Sunday, November 8, 2009

A strike of sorts - to get shorts stitched

(Not the Narayana Rao I refer in this write-up but a namesake, my FiL - we had no free access to cameras to click the original Narayana Rao in the early 70s)

Seldom do watch-repairers, goldsmiths or tailors keep up their ‘promises’ of delivery dates, much different from the EDD that gynaecologists are familiar with [expected date of delivery]. So, it was no wonder when my tailor kept 'that reputation' up, esp. once, which led to a bizarre and memorable incident, much to the tailor’s surprise.

It was the day prior to announcement of our 1973 SSLC results. We were to attend a maternal uncle’s wedding. I had given a length of blue-gray-cotton cloth to my tailor ten days ahead to stitch me a Chaddi (shorts). He had not taken up that work even on the day I needed it, in spite of many reminders.
My father knew this tailor, Narayana Rao, for some years and his shop was just a furlong from our house, in the Chamarajapuram Co-operative Society 'complex' where we had (and still have, except the tailor) a hair-cutting saloon, a washerman's (dhobi) shop and a small flour mill. (see picture below).

The 'strike' took place here:

We used to give most or the tailoring orders to him, as he was quite skilled and his young son, Prakash too. May be because of these, he seemed to adapt the ‘take it easy policy’ to us, as was his usual wont. But that day, it was Prakash who was in the shop and he was not allowed to do so. Even at the eleventh hour, there was no sign of him putting scissors to the cloth! That was the last straw. I decided to stage a lone dharna [strike] till my chaddi was delivered. I said to him to stitch the chaddi NOW, or I wont budge from there. They were still the days when people respected each other and did not resort to bullying tactics as we see today. So there I sat in one of his wooden stools. If I do today, I am sure I'd be thrown out because they care two hoots about such things as respect and human value - but then this is a general opinion.

One by one, all my family elders came to fetch me, but I would not budge. Yielding to such unusual pressure, most reluctantly, the cloth was finally picked up from the shelf. I witnessed my chaddi made ready in about an hour, by noon. My stubbornness had won over his. Pleased about the ‘achievement’, that left the tailor annoyed and angry, I went to the wedding, wearing the brand new chaddi, which in fact happened to be my last. I was to graduate to trousers but even during my first year at college, I was so fond of this chaddi that nobody could stop wearing it on holidays and I withstood my friends teasing me for that! Of course, they were much prior to the "Bermuda Shorts" days. Now we see people of all ages wearing half chaddies and three-fourths chaddies almost for any occasion.

We continued to patronize this humble tailor for some more years even after the passing off of Narayana Rao, and I think he was the one who stitched my first pair of trousers also. He continued with his usual wont but when it came to my orders, Prakash was half afraid of another dharna (strike). He is no longer in that profession - he has diversified. I told him when I met him last year after many years about it and he had forgotten it after all.

That was about the incident.
In the 1980s I decided to try my skill in stitching my own shirt as we had a sewing machine at home. I bought a length of cheap cotton cloth and taking clues from my mother who knew the craft, cut and stitched. It came okay and I was using it for some days, much to the astonishment of my friends. Later on I made a few skull caps for my use on the cricket field. I still use a few of them!
Also, I do all my own repairs - a stitch in time really saves nine and I can tell you the sewing machine is a very handy equipment!


This is a most recent scene at a ladies's tailor shop at KR Circle. Now they have mobile phones to inquire and communicate if the material is still in the shelf or stitched ready to be delivered!
Tailor Shankar Rao takes an order.

This is a picture taken about 1965 with my grandfather at Mysore Sports Club Ground.. Look at those shorts and that terylene shirt. I don't remember if that was ready-made or stitched to order. "Terylene" was a popular fabric in the 1960s and 1970s, but cotton was the most preferred fabric for us.


YOSEE said...

Enjoyed reading :-) Can't help laughing remembering the similar "chaddis"my brothers wore....yes, Sri Narayana Rao and later, Prakash, were the ones who tailored clothes from them too.

Dinakar KR said...

Would you mind telling who your brother was and where did you all used to stay here? Same Prakash, same Narayana Rao... Later Prakash's younger brother Ganesh was trained up. Now Prakash has a Bedding shop near Devraj Urs Road, selling mattresses.

YOSEE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
YOSEE said...

Mr.Dinakar, you may please mail me at : sharadambika(at)

Nirvana said...

Dear Mr.Dinakar, This is not a comment regarding your particular posting here, but in threading through memories of tailor Narayan Rao, Sharada Vilas, Kukarahalli Kere, KM Subbarao, Bombay House/Ramaswamy, Mysore Gymkhana, BS Chandrasekhar etc. I may be discovering the thread of an old family connection with you! Please let me know if this blog rings any bells? If so drop a word to the email address provided in the blog.
Thanks, and keep up the beautiful work!

Princeton, NJ

Dinakar KR said...

Many thanks for responding. I've taken a glimpse of the blog just now and will go into it later. It indeed rings many bells! Have sent out an e-mail as wished by you, just now. Hope it is a 'discovery' that has some value!