5 Rs. Shoe Shine Scam!
5 Rs. Shoe Shine Scam! Mumbai Reviews
5 Rs. Shoe Shine Scam! Feb 16, 2012
I first came across the ‘Shoe Shine Boy’ in 2006 during one of my yearly visits to Mumbai on Linking Road in Bandra.
As I was walking down the street, I was approached by this young man who looked like he was 18 or 19. He offered to shine my shoes. “Only 5 Rs. to polish your shoes Sir!!” he said in perfect English! (5 Rs. = 10 cents). This really grabbed my attention for a short while, as I was not expecting that level of English from someone who shines shoes on Mumbai streets. I politely refused his offer, but he kept following me and kept trying. He kept saying how he has not eaten all day and 5 Rs. would really help him to buy his meal. I finally gave in..
As he started polishing my shoes on the street, he started talking to me and asking me where I am from etc. (again in perfect English). I asked him how come he’s on the streets polishing shoes when he speaks so well and perhaps even better than most educated people! He then went on about how he arrived in Mumbai from Rajasthan few months ago after finishing his University Degree and was unable to find a decent job. He had his mother and siblings to support back home in Rajasthan and therefore he was left with no choice but to take up shoe polishing.
He then went on to say how he could have made a lot more money if he would have a shoe box whereby he could officially shine shoes on the busy areas of Mumbai like the railway stations etc. Apparently the Mumbai Police drove off the shoe polishers from the streets if they did not have the so called “Show box”. He then asked me if I could help him by buying him a shoe box. That’s when I felt something fishy and I realized that I am most probably being emotionally conned by Mr. Shoe Shine Boy! I then said sorry politely again and asked him to finish with my shoes soon as I wanted to move on and was not interested in buying him a shoe box.
He did not stop there and went on and on about how life was unfair to him etc. I started ignoring him and wanted to walk off, but he then started demanding Rs. 250. I kept refusing from there on, as my common sense (finally) kicked in and I realized what was going on. He was very disappointed and even cussed at me in some language, which I did not understand. I did not react and just moved on ignorantly.
Since then I have already come across 3-4 more of such Shoe Shine boys in different cities in India, mostly Mumbai. I have heard similar stories from other friends as well and a simple Google search led me to realize that this has been an on going scam since quiet some time now.
I just thought I share this with fellow travelers so that you don’t find yourself in a situation like that and are emotionally blackmailed into shelling out some money.
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