The most enchanting thing about Belgrade are most certainly its people. Every time I come back to this wonderful city, I get reminded of that fact. I find myself in the role of a not so passive observer, always noticing some new details around me. And I get excited, every single time. It is so easy to have a lovely conversation here in Belgrade. All you need to do is smile and just start talking, simply, from your heart. The response you will get will disarm you and make you remember the tiniest details about those people, that will later make you smile. The same thing keeps happening to me, and it have happened just a few days ago. I have rediscovered the place that not only is the monument of high quality craftsmanship, but also a place of hard work, diligence, family, tradition and most importantly, love. Allow me to reveal you this wonderful little spot called Obucar Toma (The Shoemaker Toma).
The truth is, I have been going to this lovely store since I was a little girl. I never paid that much attention to it. I was simply accompanying my mother on our way to our traditional stroll through Balkanska street. As I was growing up, I have noticed that Obucar(Shoemaker)Toma has wonderful Italian female high heel shoes, the same ones I used to steal from my mom and dress up as a princess. Nowadays, Obucar Toma for me is a place where anything can be fixed, and by anything, I mean anything, even beyond your shoes. You can order customized shoes by just bringing a sketch of your desired model, you can reinstall your oldest shoes, order an orthopedic footwear if needed and basically repair all your footwear so it looks like it is completely new. But I am not talking only about that. I am talking about the people, the family of three generation of workers – grandpa, son and grandson – who are always there to greet you with their brightest smile, open heart and great humor. They have created a family brand dedicated to making unique shoes from top materials imported from Italy. For the last 60 years the synonym of their business is quality and tradition, and for me it is getting things done. It is the place I always love to come back to.
And indeed, I have. Just a few days ago, I have returned to the store Obucar Toma and had a pleasure to greet the oldest craftsman of the family that is almost 100 years old. I entered the store and rang a bell twice. Then I called for:”Chika Tomo!”, despite the fact that it is not his name but name of the store. Then the old gentleman came in, involved with his work, and greeted me kindly. I asked him how he was, and he humorously replied:”Here, I am still alive. And how are you doing sweetheart?” which made me chuckle and also admire his energy and humor. I asked him for a huge favor to fix a detail on my shoe, which he unquestionably accepted. And then I asked him for how long he has been working. “Today, since this morning, and in life, well for 86 years, but in this store for 60. Now it is up to my son and grandson to keep up with the business.” Needless to say that I was impressed and left almost speechless. I asked how he was handling all of this hard work in his age, he simply shrugged his sholders and said it is really ok, as long as you do it from your heart. I had to smile on that. I felt the need to talk to him longer and longer but it seemed as if I was keeping him away from his work and that he has been quite busy. I just said that I will write a small article about him and left the store thinking about all the devotion and hard work invested in it. He smiled and waved at me :”Hope to see you soon.” If you need your shoes repaired with the best quality hand craftsmanship, you can go anywhere. But if you need all that, plus a great example of how anything can be done with hard work, passion and love, than go to Obucar Toma.
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