For 61-year-old Rajesh Rokka, shoemaking runs in his family. The Nepali – who hails from the city of Lalitpur – has been plying his trade as a cobbler in Kathmandu for 45 years, after learning the ropes from his father and grandfather when he was just a teenager.
Continuing that tradition, he has since passed on his skills to his eldest son, 36-year-old Ram Krishna. Today, father and son run a shoe shop together in the city’s Nagal neighbourhood.
We ask the cobbler to share some of the highlights of his long career.
How did you get started?
It’s a family business, but to be honest, there was no other work around at the time.
How much do you charge for your services?
I charge between NPR10 (US$0.10) and NPR700 (US$6.90) to repair old shoes. If I’m making a new pair, my fee ranges from NPR500 (US$4.90) to NPR1600 (US$15.60).
What are your hours like?
I work 10 hours a day, from Monday to Saturday.
What are some of the challenges you face?
It can be hard to get the raw materials for the shoes. Also, my customers tend to bargain a lot.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I’m happy to see that people, epecially the older generation, still want to buy handmade shoes.
This article was originally published in the July 2017 issue of Silkwinds magazine.