From trendy teen to, ahem, sophisticated lady... It's been a rather interesting journey. A journey in which a lot of men have played important roles. And one truly important man was my darzi.
A true master he is. A darzi incomparable. A good tailor is a rare, rare commodity. A good tailor who stitches your necklines deep as you want is rarer.
They all seem to become extremely protective and assume a fatherly stance when it comes to low necklines. Hemlines don't bother them much -- short, very short, no, not there... that is fine by them. But plunging necklines are taboo.
"Nahin, yeh itna achcha nahin dikhega [No, this won't look nice]", "Thoda problem hoga [It will create some problem]" and other such flimsy excuses they offer. And if the one you are dealing with is exceptionally protective, he will nod his head and go ahead and stitch an extremely prim version of what you specified.
Fortunately for me, there is this couturier, if you please, who is every woman's dream. Passionate about dressmaking, he is one designer who knows what I have in mind even before I do, if you know what I mean.
He knows my taste, doesn't flinch when I ask for a particularly adventurous neckline, has great ideas on patterns, knows exactly what will look good on me and, most importantly, gives me an excellent fit.
I remember, once I had wanted him to give me a simple pattern for this khadi material. He plum refused!
"Isme kuch mazaa nahin aayega [This won't be much fun]," he told me.
I was taken aback. I wanted to shout that I don't care if he had mazaa, I wanted him to give what I wanted. Of course, it didn't take him very long to convince me he knows best. That man is a king, a blessing, a Master.
But our association was tragically terminated when I moved to another town. And the hunt for a new master began afresh.
Over the years, I have made some insightful observations about tailors.
One: When you give some inexpensive stuff to a new darzi, it fits like a dream. You then give him your lovely turquoise silk material you want to don for your cousin's wedding and I guarantee, he'll ruin it, and ruin it in such a way that it cannot be salvaged.
Two: Very rarely do tailors deliver on time. They are more often than not late -- and not fashionably either.
Three: The rates and cuts of tailors are not always directly proportional.
Four: You cannot afford to threaten your tailor with murder if he happens to be good though late.
A good tailor is a gem. He doesn't necessarily have to be a good man. Because, hey, even if there are a few good men, not all of them are tailors!
Shilpa Athalye's search is still on.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
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