The hunt for the black shoes

5:12 PM

Two more days until Ishita starts Jr Kg. With this important milestones comes school stuff shopping. In India that means school uniform and school shoes shopping as well. And Ishita’s school asked us to come today to order the uniform which will be handed to us on the first day of school, the uniform in question is a very toddler friendly one very similar to the one Ishita got to wear twice a week in playschool and nursery: a skort and a t-shirt. Along with it the school will provide us with standard uniform black shoes in September, until then and for the duration of the monsoon, we are to send our kids in black Velcro sandals to school. Which is a good idea as the monsoon usually ruin shoes and keep socks and feet wet, making it a nightmare for the kids, the school and the parents.
The problem is that while the school will take orders and provide the uniform shoes in September, for the monsoon shoes we are on our own, the only specification being that the shoes should be simple and black.
I thought that black being such a usual common colour that would be a simple task. After a hunt spanned over two days I can tell you that there is nothing simple trying to find simple black sandals in toddler sizes.
I started my quest on Saturday, aiming at the local commercial streets in my area, visiting small shop after small shop, figuring that they would be the one to have what I was looking for, but most shops had official school shoes the typical girl Mary Jane shoes, the ones I will get from the school in September, and had Velcro sandals for adults and older kids but not in small sizes. The small sizes come in Barbie and Dora pink prints for the girls and in Spiderman and Ben 10 for the boys, with only black accents if they come in black at all for the boys. Upon my asking for black sandals the shop keepers helpfully suggested imitation crocs, and seriously I can’t believe the school is not considering these as monsoon shoes because I don’t think I saw a single shop in my area not selling crocs. After visiting about 6-7 shops that day and having a cranky little girl tagging along, we went back home, with the plan of heading to the mall where there is a Bata store on Monday. Bata is the ultimate place to find basic sturdy decently priced shoes in India, and interestingly enough there is no Bata in the main commercial streets in my area, but there is one at the nearest mall…oh the irony.
So here we were off to the mall today. Right after we went trying t-shirts and skort at the school to book the correct size of uniform and been told once again that Velcro sandals stands for plain good old Bata type ones. Arriving at the mall I zoomed all the way to Bata, just about happy to find them, grab a bite and go home and be done. Simple I thought, except that it turned out to be yet another fail. They had plain black Velcro sandals there of course…for adults and teenagers! None for small kids, these come only in pink for girls and green, blue or brown for boys, none even close to pass muster as simple not so black but still basic enough. From there a mad hunt started : Lifestyle, Westside, Shopper’s Stop, Max, Ginny & Jonny, Ruff, FBB (they have no shoes), Pantaloons (No shoes either), Mom & Me which had only one pair that wasn’t very simple looking but at least black and with no cartoons on it but in a size two numbers too small, Woodlands, Mochi, and even Big Bazaar, which usually sell that kind of cheap simple things, but had only neon colours crocs for toddlers. At this point we had been at it for an hour and Ishita was starting to whine so we headed for a quick lunch of idli and dosa before tackling the Croc brand store where they actually did come with a Velcro strap model, but in blue with a red strap! Gah! Passed in front of Clarks not wanting to even try because the idea of possibly finding something there and ending spending close to 2k for shoes she’ll wear 3 months was a repellent, gave Nike, Adidas, Puma and Reebok the same miss.
2 hours after entering the mall full of energy I was dragging my feet defeated while ironically one of these “ta-da-da” instrumental track you would picture as a score in an epic movie where the hero returns home on his valiant steed triumphant with his hair in the wind, or steps down his fighter plane being the sole survivor and saviour of humanity…Musical score probably destined to perk shoppers up and make them feel all powerful in search of the perfect item…Unless of course what you are looking for is the holy grail itself..err a very simple boring basic pair of black sandals for a toddler. So the music kept on going ta-da-da, Ishita kept saying “let’s go home” and I kept thinking “Bloody school uniform rules”. And just because I had to find them or else send her in red and white Velcro straps we already had at home I decided to go back to the market area near my place, this time focusing on the shops that were or closed or missed the previous trip.
The first shop we tried today was closed on Saturday when I visited, they had them, all in sizes too small for her…but at least I finally saw that no I was not asking for the impossible and that yes toddler shoes in plain black do actually and truly exist, at this point with over 20 stores visited this was the glimmer of hope I needed to keep me going. I figured out that if one store had them in tiny size, there must be another I missed the other day that must have them too. that’s how I decided to give a try to a shop that was selling, prams, baby walker, diapers and children toys a try, but only after I saw that they had 3 pair of colourful fake crocs in the shopping window. At this point you think that any shop that display footwear even if it is just crocs might be worth investigating.
And that’s were the miracle of miracle happened! They had ONE yes ONE pair in Ishita’s size!!!! One pair of simple, sturdy, practical, basic plain black Velcro sandals, with no embellishment, prints or cartoons.

I never thought in my life that something that simple looking would end up being such an ordeal to find. Back home kids are not even allowed to wear shoes in the classroom until grade 6, parents are told to buy a pair of soft soled indoor slippers of their choice which will kept on the shoe rack outside the classroom by the coat hanger and in which the kids will have to change into upon arriving to school, the idea behind the move being to not drag dirt in the classroom the kids will stay into for 6 hours of their day. And while I remember my mom hating taking us school slippers shopping because it would end up with us hating most of them, at least she wasn’t limited to one style and one colour and could if my sister and I ended up being too picky just pick one pair in any colour and just tell us that bargaining for styles and colours was efficiently over, and we were usually done with the ordeal in one or two stores max…not over 20 to find the one style and colour imposed by the school itself.


  1. Beatrix7:17 PM

    Geez, wonder where all of Ishita's school mates got their black velcro sandals?

    When we had to buy school uniforms we were given a list of stores where we could find the specific items.

    Guess we lucked out?

  2. The schol will be giving us the uniform t-shirt and skirt on Wednesday so I don't have to run around finding these, they will also give us the shoes in September, now why oh why could they not make our life simpler and provide the darn black sandals? I have a feeling there will be a lot of parents asking where to find these shoes or if other almost black colours can do too on Wednesday, there are 5 divisions of each 25 kids just in Jr Kg that's a lot of pair of shoes in small sizes to be bought in small stores int he area.


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