It is very easy to miss KB Shivshankar’s tiny green shop as you whiz by Cooke Town. But what most Davis Road denizens don’t realize is that their humble neighbourhood cobbler has a very interesting hobby that has even managed to gain an entry in the Limca Book of Records.
KB Shivshankar is busy at work when I go and meet him. The tiny space is cluttered with shoes and extra supplies. Two of the walls are chock full of shoes that he has made.
Piled with tiny shoes perfect for any citizen of Lilliput, one wall immediately grabs my eye. Ballet flats, slippers, kitten heels, stilettos and clogs all vie for attention on that small space. But it is only when you take one down and actually examine it minutely do you realize what a perfect scaled-down model the tiny shoe really is.
Shivshankar is no stranger to fame. He proudly displays all the newspaper cuttings of each story that has been done about him. “They are there in nearly every language - English, Hindi, Kannada and Tamil. Even a Malayalam newspaper did a story about me,” he beams.
He has over 200 hundred unique designs he’s created, out of scrap leather and rubber from his shop. “Each pair of the shoes takes more than an hour to make. That is, if I’m not interrupted with orders from customers midway,” he observes.
Shivshankar is an old hand at making shoes. He took up the profession when he was eight, after his father had passed away. “Being one of six children, I knew I had to start earning. I needed to ease the burden laid on my family. So I left school and began my career. I worked in many different shops before starting my own stall,” he explains. The diminutive shoes made their appearance about six years ago, while he was waiting for orders on regular shoes. Instead of sitting idle, he started making the shoes out of leftovers.
Entering his name into the Limca Book of Records was quite a task, he acknowledges. “I first heard about it on the radio, back in 2008 where the RJ was talking about someone’s record. Then I thought to myself, why can’t I have a record for the shoes I’ve made? My first interview was with Prajavani. After that interview was published, TV9 did an interview with me. The story was carried far and wide. A number of news organizations did stories on me. I really had no idea how to go about applying for a record. Then one day, a military officer visited my shop in Davis Road. He brought with him the Limca Book of Records and together we sat and checked whether any one else had already made a category for the most number of pairs of the smallest shoes in India,” Shivshankar recalls.
There wasn’t one.
He immediately contacted Limca and waited for the good part of a year to hear back from them. In 2009, they responded. He immediately sent them pictures of his shoes and details about his work. “At the end of 2009, they came and checked out my shop and the shoes too. Finally, they promised to add my name and picture in the book. I sent the money and I got the book,” he says.
He refuses to sell any of the tiny little shoes in his shop. “I have taken orders from people to specially create the shoes. One lady from USA came here and asked me to make 30 shoes of the same design to be crafted into key chains. People from England, Germany and Sri Lanka have come for special orders. That I’ll do. But I will never sell any shoe that I already have,” he said.
He doesn’t do this for the money though. “It is the support of my family and well-wishers that keep me going,” he admits.
So, what’s next for the man with his little shoes? "I dream of applying for a Guinness Record for the most pairs of miniature shoes, even though I don't know how," he says, hoping for the best.
KB Shivshankar can be reached at 9242145101/ 9141421241.