Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ali Usta's place

"Ayakkabı tamırı." Those two words, printed on a small piece of plain white paper and taped inside an upstairs window, were the only advertisement for the shoe-repair shop a friend had directed me to, explaining, as people generally do here, that it was "across from the phone store and above the bad accessories shop."

Poking my head around the corner of the building, I spied a dark, narrow doorway, beyond which an even narrower set of stairs wound steeply up to the next floor. I pushed open the door on the landing and squeezed alongside the elderly shoe repairman's desk into a bathroom-sized space stacked floor-to-ceiling with dusty boxes, tools, shoes, and bags. A television blared and a heater ran full-blast, trying to ward off the chill outside.

Waving me into the one vacant seat, Ali Usta picked up my two pairs of tattered leather boots, turning them around in his wrinkled hands, and pronounced that he could have them fixed by the next day for less than 10 dollars.

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