Last year, within six months I lost three pairs of new chappals (footwear)- one outside a temple complex, one inside a marriage hall and one outside a Doctor`s clinic. Having been `thrice bitten` I have learnt my lessons. Today I carry an extra-old pair of chappals in my car which I wear whenever I enter any public place where I am expected to leave behind the footwear before entering the venue. If the distance between the parked car and the venue is short I leave them behind in the car and walk barefoot to the venue.
It is not uncommon in many of these venues to find your new pair of chappals missing and in its place an identical but old worn out pair staring at you.
A friend was reluctantly compelled to walk away with someone else`s pair of chappals when he found his own missing outside a temple in a village. ` What to do yaar, I heard that there were no footwear shops in the village and it was so hot in the afternoon that I shuddered at the thought of walking around barefoot,` he said sheepishly. So much for his conscience!
I remember an occasion when I was the guilty party. Let me explain. I was travelling back from Trichy by Rockfort Express. I normally get off only at Egmore, the final destination of the train. But that day as the train was entering Mambalam station I had an impulse to get down so that I could save some time reaching Adyar where I live. As I was getting out of my chappals after reaching home, I realized that one of the chappals was brand new- identical to the old one I was wearing on the other foot. Obviously in my great hurry to get down I had blindly worn the mismatched pair of chappals next to my seat. The number of times I choked on my `saliva` (Porai) that morning made me realize that the gentleman who lost his brand new chappal must be cursing me repeatedly. Thanks to my absent mindedness I had made two pairs of chappals; his as well as mine useless!
Then there are people who are so possessive of their footwear, old or new , that they discreetly pack the pair of chappals in a bag and tuck it under their armpits as they walk into the sanctum sanctorum of temples. You see, they don`t trust the guys who promise to look after their pair of footwear for a small fee. Reminding me of the old pre-security days, when villagers, who could not afford to hire rooms, carried their small steel trunks containing their belongings on their heads inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Balaji temple in Tirupathi causing a lot of inconvenience to fellow devotees; especially those behind them whose view of the deity was obstructed by the trunk.
I have also come across anxious devotees, when visiting small street side temples, who keep peeping out every time they come to the entrance, while going around the sanctum sanctorum to ensure that the footwear that they have left behind just outside the temple, is not missing. They are more worried about their footwear than concentrating on the deity.
One solution to this problem can be to insure your expensive footwear from loss due to theft, fire etc. Will insurance companies consider such an insurance policy not only for foot wear but also other expensive items like mobile phones, wrist watches, gold jewellery etc which we have in our person when we go out? An idea worth pondering over!
This article has appeared in Adyar Times issue dt.29th April -5th May,2018 under my column `Rajan`s Random Reflections`