A stitch in time …
By Vivek Hande
Today we live in an ‘instant” world. Instant coffee, instant relief from pains and pimples; instant fairness of skin and instant karma and nirvana. I was looking for an instant overhaul of my fraying wardrobe and walked into a series of showrooms looking for readymade trousers. After endless rounds of branded stores : ‘Latest material from Italy; Anti crease; anti wrinkle ; Anti stain ; Buy two , get half free; Buy half and get three fourths of a shirt free and so on’; I was beginning to despair. Things were not working out. Either my body was of unique contours or the companies had jointly decided to keep me out of their marketing strategy. I decided to seek out a tailor who would drape me as per my proportions. A pedigreed men’s tailor shop very close to my place was recommended and I ambled across. The master was a distinguished looking arthritic Parsi gentleman, hard of hearing with minimal vision and a touch of Parkinson’s. His trembling voice and quivering fingers did not inspire much confidence. There were sepia toned photographs of a much younger master with a young Raj Kapoor and a much younger Dev Anand – presumably his customers in much better days. The whole place carried a stale odour; a stench of better days gone by. There were deep and comfortable sofas with the upholstery clinging desperately to the woodwork. The neon sign outside had every alternate letter missing; the carpet was threadbare and the most recent magazine in the waiting area was of the 1970’s . I was on the verge of turning back to the nearest showroom, when the master called out to me with a measuring tape slung around his neck.
He was a changed man with the tools of his trade in his hand. Professional, practiced hands expertly took measurements and his movements were deft and precise. The quiver and the tremble were gone and he was confidence personified. He gave me suggestions on the current fashion trends and in an unhurried manner went on to tell me about the recession in the tailoring business thanks to the readymade cloth industry. There were no other customers and we had a leisurely cup of tea. The wizened old master regaled me with anecdotes from the past. We parted with the promise of delivery of trousers a week later. I was already looking forward to my next visit. The trousers were a perfect fit and we had another stimulating conversation over a steaming cup of tea.
I am no one to comment on instant clothing but the master from another era had struck an “instant” friendship with someone half a century younger than him and won a crusader for the art of tailoring. No instant wardrobes for me –that is for sure