If traveling here in India teaches me anything, it’s how easy it is in America to buy basic things.
Yesterday, I got a new appreciation for a commonplace item we take for granted when, tying my running shoes, the right shoelace broke. No big deal, right? Wrong, because most people in Southern India wear sandals, and though running shoes are readily available, the ties that bind them are, I found out, hard to find.
I headed to a department store called Big Bazaar with broken shoelace in tow. Seeing a salesgirl in the shoe department, I held it up to her. “You want lace separate?” she asked. “Not available… look outside store.”
I was in a mall, so I headed to, not one, but two stores that sell name brand running shoes and hit the same brick wall. My shoelace dilemma was going to call for some good old-fashioned American ingenuity.
I thought about using electrical wire, there’s plenty of that lying on sidewalks… but I rejected that idea for lack of wire cutters. I thought about buying a cheap pair of shoes just for the laces, but the cheapest were fifteen dollars—I’d rather buy a pair of wire cutters.
I went back to Big Bazaar and walked the aisles, hoping something would jump out at me… and came across rolls of clothesline. Hmm. They had the same thickness as shoelaces, and they’re made of vinyl so you can cauterize the ends with a match. As an added bonus, it turns out that clotheslines in India are really, really stylish. Bingo!
I took a roll to my hotel room, cut them to length, cauterized the ends and prepared to celebrate my victory, but I couldn’t shove the flimsy ends through the shoelace holes. Darn it! Frustrated, I just tied the two ends of the broken lace together and made it work. Then I scribbled this entry into my travel journal: “Bring extra shoelaces next year.”
Now that’s good, old-fashioned American ingenuity!