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Boot polish veranda in the heart of Chandigarh city
But irony is that a place which is located in the heart of sector 17 is the ?Boot Polish Varanda?. Through this place thousands of people and the visitors pass through but without much notice. In this varanda more than 35 shoe polishers are shining the shoes of the residents since last more than 40 years. My interactions with these shoe shining boys came out with interesting revelations. The leader of this team Mr. Pappy informed me that on this place his grandfather used to work then this profession was taken over by his father and now he is there to continue. He tells me that our parents were settled here way back during 1960. They were the residents of famous Kumhar Colony (sector 25 Chandigarh) and now were allotted separate residential units in Bhaskar Colony in Chandigarh. Meanwhil

The city plaza (open spaces in French) was designed by le Corbusier himself. This is main shopping centre. It is a very vast commercial complex and most favourite time pass for the city residents and the visitors. Window shopping with leisure and pleasure and crowd gazing near fountain has become a craze among youngsters.

City Center which is the most popular shopping arcade is also located in sector 17. The area is dotted with fountains, sculptures, and groves of trees and is considered as pedestrian’s paradise.

Branded showrooms, restaurants, pubs, disco and other eating joints like Hot Millions, Domino Pizza etc are part of sector 17. The Indian Coffee House is another famous place which is frequented by young and old and holds its own importance among old timers of the city.  Its outer area is surrounded by SBI Building, Local bus stand, office of Municipal Corporation, Hotel Taj, Shiwalik View, Park plaza and other big and small business centers. The upper level of plaza buildings mainly includes tailoring business and other tailoring supplies. One can easily look for jewelry, electronics items, books, fabrics and branded clothing.

The other important buildings in the heart of city are SBI building, regional office of RBI, main post office, estate office, accountant general offices  of Punjab and Haryana besides very famous bank square and parade ground adjoining to bus terminus.

But the irony is that a place which is located in the heart of sector 17 is a ‘Boot Polish Veranda’. Thousands of people and visitors pass through this veranda but without much notice. More than 35 shoe polishers have been shining the shoes of residents for more than last 40 years here. My interaction with these shoe shining boys came out with interesting revelations.  

The leader of this team Mr. Pappy informed me that his grandfather used to work there, then his father took over and now he is there to continue the family profession. He tells me that our parents were settled here way back during ’60s. They were the residents of famous Kumhar Colony (sector 25 Chandigarh) and now were allotted separate residential units in Bhaskar Colony in Chandigarh. Meanwhile, few more join and start sharing their experience while working at this place. One of them tells me that “film shots of Punjabi movies were taken at the veranda and since then we have become very famous.”

With wrinkles of worries on his face, Mauji Ram, another shoe polisher, says, “Our business has gone down because of shifting offices of Punjab and Haryana besides shifting of ISBT from sector 17 to sector 43 Chandigarh.”

He further lamented there is less flow of customers after district courts were shifted to some other sector. The rush of visitors is comparatively low during summer months. On an average between 200 to 300 customers visit daily for shoe polishing  in winter, whereas in summer months only 80 to 90 persons come to take the services. Earlier in the beginning, the boot polish charges were 15 paise per pair and now the charges range between Rs 10 to 15 depending on the type of work.

This is the most accessible destination and a common address for the outsiders who do not know the geography of the area. “Best place to meet who are unable to find each other while shopping,” quipped another boy who recently got into the business.

I found that they are the best guides to tell the visitors and the strangers the exact location of the shop, offices and other important buildings. Through this write-up, I urge all my readers to spend few moments at this veranda.  Believe me, just watch and appreciate their profession.

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