Paromita Vohra: Woh darzi hai kahan?

By  Devdutt Pattanaik | Posted  22-Jan-2017

Illustration/Ravi Jadhav
Illustration/Ravi Jadhav

Are you, like me, languishing and sighing, waiting for that one man (and sometimes woman) who will fulfill certain dreams for you?

Yaniki, do you, like me, have that one big drawer or shelf in your closet? The one full of beautiful fabrics gathered from various travels, pieces of embroidery or mirror work salvaged from once-favourite outfits, that special swatch of silk you’re saving for the best most awesome dress ever… and yet. Where’s the tailor who will do this for you?

Once buying readymade clothes was rare. Clothes had to be stitched and involved attentive preparation — purchase of fabric, matching of linings and trimmings and confabulations with tailor.

I don't mean to romanticise these encounters with Masterji. Sometimes the same darzi had been stitching for a couple of generations of your family. Which meant, yes, you know it, the battle of the neckline. “Three inches” he would measure a neckline that was one centimeter short of a noose or a millimeter from a convent. “Eight inches” you’d try, hoping for a compromise at seven. “Six” he’d agree. You would of course get a demure five inches in the end.

Not that new tailors were better. “Yeh aaj kal style hai” they would insist. You would insist on your pattern firmly you thought. But the hand that wields the scissors rules the world, so, yes you might get some very eccentric result and had to accept it.

As for delivery time — see above on who rules the world.

Maybe this drama has led to masses of people opting for the moderately well made, predictably pleasant and just a little (but not dauntingly) overpriced choices available in the various readymade stores that fill our malls today. On a local train as you look at people, you can kind of guess where each of their outfits were purchased. Others, who are not as fabulously rich as to buy designer beauties buy a kind of designer readymade with colonial-sounding brand names that masks its sameness by pretending to simplicity and clean cuts or anti-fashion.

But, in the end it all feels kind of impersonal. Our relationship with clothes becomes a bit like our relationship with bad pornography. We keep hoping the next outfit will really satisfy us at every level, but its satisfactions are temporary, always keeping us going back for one more shopping trip to buy something that gives us a fleeting high then we're back for more of the same.

So, along with that drawer of unstitched clothes we now also have shelves of clothes barely worn but not calling to us.

So, isn’t the solution to cancel the shelf of unworn clothes by doing something about the unstitched cloth drawer? Ah yes, the darzi.

Everywhere I go I ask people hopefully – do you have a good tailor? They answer “No ya, I’m also searching” or a cagey, “I do, but he’s not always reliable.” (yaniki, keep off).

One friend sadly advised me: Just find a tailor, accept him for what he is and make the relationship work. I might do that. Another said, if by chance he turns out to be the one, don’t ever move suburbs.

So, ya, see you on the other side, in a high necked unfashionable but highly stylish outfit.

Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at www.parodevipictures.com

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