Hosni Padal, 57, or “Pak Hosni” to his friends, has been mending shoes for nearly a decade now. Beneath his relaxed exterior is a tale of ups and downs that had dogged him since he left school in 1970. He started off as an office-boy at the Prime Minister’s Department in Kuala Lumpur. “You know, I served Najib’s father, Tun Abdul Razak,” he told Ipoh Echo.
From delivering letters and running errands for the high and mighty along the corridors of power, he took a job as a kitchen hand at a 5-star hotel in the city. Since the heat in the kitchen was unbearable, he quit and became the personal bodyguard of an executive of a private firm in the capital. This too was not to his liking. “My responsibilities were quite extensive, leaving me with little time for my family.” Obviously, he was not cut out for these jobs. “Kuala Lumpur offers little prospect for a family man like me.”
Hosni had the advantage of learning a trade while attending a vocational course at Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara, Dusun Tua in 1971. He learned how to mend shoes. And since a career in both the public and private sectors was not forthcoming, Hosni decided to try his luck at cobbling for a living. He moved to Ipoh to seek his fortune. “It is less stressful in a provincial town like Ipoh and, moreover, opportunities are aplenty,” he reasoned. The rest, like they say, is history.
Pak Hosni plies his trade in Strawberry Park parking himself underneath a tree at the main road leading into Rapat Setia, Ipoh. His makeshift stall, with its trademark beach umbrella, is most conspicuous to passersby, coming in and going out of Rapat Setia.
Hosni has built a reputation for himself by being a conscientious cobbler who takes pride in his job. “Customers’ satisfaction is my priority not money,” he said matter-of-factly. Hosni’s fees are very reasonable prompting many to ask whether he was charging them properly. “If they’re happy, they’ll keep on coming.”
“I am satisfied with his work. My worn-out shoes look as good as new,” said Zamri Osman, 42, one of Hosni’s many avid customers. Hosni’s client base consists of the rich and the not-so-rich. “Their continued patronage is what keeps me going.”
His routine involves patching, stitching, gluing and replacing. “I receive all kinds of shoes, branded and non-branded. Even stilettos, boots and bags!” he exclaimed. Hosni’s delivers what he promises. That is what endears him to his customers.
Pak Hosni operates his open-air stall seven days a week between 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. This affable doktor kasut can be contacted on his mobile at 017-581 5560. “I welcome all customers with open arms,” he remarked.