Tuesday, February 22, 2011
The Shoeshine Man
"Look, Mom! It's the shoeshine man!" I always assume everyone will ignore Eleanor's piping voice since she's speaking in English instead of Bosnian, but this time, the shoeshine man we always pass on the main shopping street turned and looked at her (eye-level since he was sitting down) and said, "Jest" (It is!).
Turns out the shoeshine man, čika Mišo (Uncle Mišo) is a Sarajevo icon. His life sounds part-fairy-tale. His family, from the itinerant and sometimes marginalized Roma community, arrived in Sarajevo in 1946. His father taught him the shoeshine trade and he took over in 1952. He's been shining shoes in Sarajevo ever since, even during the war. In the mid-Sixties he and his wife rescued a newborn baby from a trash bin, adopted her, and raised her. The government has just recognized his contribution to Sarajevo by giving him an apartment.
And he doesn't mind acknowledging a 5 year old girl, even when she's speaking another language.
(Image from this site.)