Tuesday, 18 October 2011


Sometimes X and me sit on the steps leading to Big Bazaar - the one near my house.In the background there is huge cacophony of traffic which irritates me while exhilarating X. I used to sit many times with my mom there.She used to get tired standing because after her chemotherapy  her knees and legs gave her pain .The pill Altraz she was on had among other side effects - leaching bones of calcium. So , invariably when i used to coax her during the 10 months after chemo and radiation but before the cancer came back in her brain, mom sat outside at those steps  while I finished buying groceries at the store.

So, now I coax X to sit with me - i still don't like the noise and all that vigorous honking but she seems to enjoy it while i reminisce about Mom. I miss her terribly and after her i don't think i'll miss anyone else so much. X and me are both losers however in different ways [she is going to kill me , I know, for saying this] . I believe however there are more losers walking around than truly content and happy people with everything going for them .. ..infact there are few people who have probably been just tapped lightly on the head by Life and not smacked or tossed around like a football ! X and me both have had hard lives from last 10 years.And both of us blame it on Fate or destiny !

X : Gosh ! whatever did we do to end up alone like this i mean we are 33 and not getting anywhere.I feel so lonely at times i wish my 6 year relationship had never ended !
Me: May be we should start new habits ! How about social drinking?
X: Social drinking ? Where ? We have no social life to speak of? Its difficult to even make new friends at this age ? Where have all the people gone ?

Me: I wish your relationship had ended earlier ...less pain ! 6 years and it went nowhere ! And about people ,...they are all married ! Married people have to compulsorily socialize with each other especially married indian girls. Most husbands don't like their wives spending time with their friends ...or so the women think ! Married people hang out with married people usually!

X : Why ?
Me: Its maths , i think.Things are easier to add up when couples hang out together.
X:[ sits thinking while  i wonder why do we end up talking all this crap]  There are only so many mall visits one can make. It stinks to be single middle class Indian girl ![she concluded... and sighed]

Me: Yes..i have been saying this all this time...and thats the only reason i want to get married !I mean if i find some one to just hang out or go on vacations with i'll think i have hit jackpot !
X: That's all ! That low your expectations are ? you want a touring companion ? What about love ? [she looked at me...wide eyed aghast!]

Me: Oh ...lot of my expectations have been silted and washed away by incoming tides through all these years ...is that so bad ? What's wrong with a touring companion ? I want to go and see the world and India which i can't do now alone. Its no fun alone for me .I guess i am not built that way. And love? Maybe its not for me...i have come to accept it.Anyway, if it had to happen it would have happened a long time ago.

X : [rolled her eyes at me and sighed ] yeah maybe...we don't even have ways to meet anyone anymore ..most of the guys on the market are either divorced or with kids.
Me: Oh..we might not even have kids to baulk at ..you know...its a possibility the biological clock ...
X: [she sighed even louder] yep...gosh its scary....are we destined to die unloved, alone and without progeny ?

Me: I hope not...i i desperately hope we don't die alone ..unloved because we are quite loving people ![ i tried to cheer her up]

X : Do you believe we are at fault? Do we make our own destiny ?

Me : [ i thought hard and put my arm around her to console and pacify her while i fought back my tears] If you had asked me 10 years ago...i 'd have said ..yes -we make our own destiny ! Not anymore !  I think...we can just clear the path ...you know..pick the weeds out,plant some seeds ..hoping they survive and grow into strong plants and trees and fill the path with beauty and fragrance. But the path ...where it leads and goes is beyond us.Where the path is destined to end and branch out is in some Superpower's hands',.....there is Someone out there who is pulling the strings and spoiling all our plans, X !

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Snip snip !

I have grown up wearing exquisitely stitched salwar kameez,frocks ,jumpers,skirts and what not simply because my mom used to stitch my clothes and my sisters'. When i was growing up there were no malls ...there were shops one went to buy the frocks and baba suits for children.Women usually bought material at mill stores -atleast that's what my mom did and gave it for stitching.Darzis were carefully chosen and good ones were stuck to. The quality for darzis were honesty and thriftiness in using the cloth and most women at that time had compulsory 'sewing ' class either at home or at schools.My mother of course went a step ahead primarily because she had 3 daughters to swathe elegantly. i don't ever remember my mom buying"salwar kameez sets". These sets which contain dupattas,kurta and bottom materials were unheard...instead people mix- matched and bought material at the shops and they scoured for matching dupattas .In doing so people usually bought only required material depending on the length and type of kurta or salwar they wanted.
Nowadays, the sets offer huge advantages..first you don't have to scour for matching dupattas.secondly the darzi cannot cheat you and ask for more material incase you are tall.For short people it doesnt matter because darzis have a field day because lot of material is left behind after he stitches and gives you the salwar kameez

Unfortunately nowadays, many women don't have any sense of material,or cloth requirement so they buy whatever the darzi says instead of doing mental calculations of their own. Here is the general rule of the thumb: if you are 5ft to 5.5 ft,wear a salwar of length-40-41" and kurta of 38" or less- you just need 2 mtrs for kurta ,2 mtrs for salwar of panna 42-45" i.e width of the cloth material.

The panna of cloth especially doesn't matter in kurtas because of the styles that are worn these days...sleeveless,halter necks and short sleeves. I'm 5ft 8" tall so i easily stitch  my salwar in 2 mtrs and churidar in 2.25 mtrs, kurtas in 2- 2.25 mtrs depending on length i want 40-43". I have got my salwar kameez stitched from tailors when i didn't know stitching and mom couldn't do it anymore- they never made the length of the kurta more than 43-45" [the time i'm talking about is when long slit kurtas with churidars were in fashion] and made piddly churidars from the sets though the salwars made were good.
Here are few tips i 'd like to share:
1. If you don't know stitching here is important things to look for in a darzi these days: your height has got nothing to do with cloth requirement when you buy standard salwar kameez sets ie. 2.25 -2.5 mtrs top,2-2.25 bottom and dupatta.If you are below 5.5 ft and thin ask your darzi to give you remaining cloth back especially if you have got a plain kurta and salwar stitched. Usually in these sets the panna of cloth is 42-46" ,the whole length wise cloth band remains after stitching if the darzi has folded and cut the kurta properly. Don't expect much from bottom part of the material set. If you have a hobby you can use the cloth and you can also use it to rafu /repair your dress in case they are get torn accidentally.

2.Ask the darzi to keep silai so that you can alter the dress if you put on weight
3. When you are testing a new darzi,check his stitching,salwar and churidar that he makes. A salwar should not ride up your thighs when you walk or sit with folded legs,the paincha [bottom part] of salwar should not be too wide nor too narrow.The fall of the salwar when you wear it should be perfect. Its meant to be loose and flowing and width [gher] as much as possible.
A churidar has to have 'chudis'. the chudidar is cut on diagonal fold of cloth so ideally its going to have joints.A smart darzi will and can add joints so that as much 'chudis' can be made and joints will not be seen too.

4. And most importantly- a good efficient darzi never ever spoils your clothes. If its a fitting problem take it back to the darzi and tell him, he can alter it.If he makes your kurta extremely tight don't go back to him at all with a second order.
5. Nowadays darzis charge price depending on locality they are sitting in and not according to their skill so your job of finding a good and reasonable skillful darzi is even more difficult.

Lastly, i wholly recommend learning basic hand stitching,repairing your clothes .Its one skill which is worth it.You don't depend for alterations on a tailor.It saves your time. Believe me,If there is extra silai on sides of the kurta you can rip it open and make space to accommodate a few extra inches in case you have put on weight or vice versa when you want to wear it . You will not have to wait and make a trip to the tailor for something as small as that. You can handstitch - you may find it difficult to believe in this age of sewing machines but neat handstiching is strong !
So, you cannot excuse yourself from repairing clothes because you do not have a sewing machine !

Sewing came to my rescue. Its destressing ,challenging and its one skill where if you do it again and again you only become better. Its my mom's greatest gift to me.In 3 years i have learnt from books, from mom and my aunt and now i can make salwar kameez, saree blouses, churidars,pillow covers ,curtains. Sometimes, hours pass by while I'm concentrating on a particular pattern making. I have now moved on from basic kurta and now i try to create patterns, piping, necklines and yokes.Sewing is an endless art - your creativity is your limit.
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