Poo On Your Shoe

Hear Bill Tucker assemble his consonants and you’ll spot he’s from Australia but his job as an architect is 6,500 miles away in New Delhi, India. A no-nonsense guy, his corduroy mind is consumed with approved processes and how things done right are best done by the book. This background is helpful so you’ll get the full measure of what comes next.


Cerebral Bill was recently walking toward his client’s offices near the venerable Connaught Place in the frenetic financial district of Delhi. CP, as its locally known, was originally built to be the central nervous system for England’s colony of India while the sun was still never se

tting on the British Empire.  It’s a crescent pair of white-washed buildings dating back to the 1930’s when England was feverishly trying to tamp down India’s thirst for independence by a building boom of classic, memorable public buildings fit for a capital city. Today, Britain may be long gone, but this is still ranked as the fourth most expensive commercial real estate space in the world.

As Bill got near the stairs down to the Metro (i.e. the Underground subway line), he heard a man shout, “Sir, there’s poo on your shoe! There’s poo on your shoe.” (The shouter may have actually used another, more earthy word of which you might not approve and which wouldn’t rhyme with shoe.) He kept yelling it until Bill realized that he was the actual target of the announcement. Bill stopped, looked down, raised one sole to check. Then the other.

He was right! There was definitely poo on his shoe. And in that very moment while Bill was inspecting and scraping, that same entrepreneur swooped in on his knees with his shoe shine box to wipe away what Bill only too slowly realized the man himself had actually been tossing in front of unsuspecting pedestrians to drum up business!

Hindi-speakers of the sub-continent have a word for it. Jugaard. Its actually a source of great national pride. Gnarled men with orange turbans grin knowingly when you suggest it. Like a collective inside joke.  It means a highly-clever, even cunning and quick way of solving or fixing a problem. A work-around. A clap trap, short-cut. The shoe-shine guy was flexing his jugaard to solve his problem of finding his next meal.

The rush and rapid-fire intensity of this place keeps anger always near the surface of your emotions. But sometimes you just have to laugh really hard and toss a hungry guy a clump of rupees whether or not his appetite is for food.

This entry was posted in On My Mind, Travels, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply