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Wednesday 16 December 2015

Shopping For A Dress

There done.....finished the chore of ordering online all our Diwali clothes, for the four of us! What a big load off my head! So glad I have done all my shopping from the comfort of my home, that too a whole week before the festive frenzy takes hold of people as they mob the malls....I will be escaping all that! 

And then out-of-the blue I remembered something....while ordering a dress for my daughter, a lovely vision in pale rose....the childhood memory of shopping for my Birthday dress! 

The high-point of my childhood was shopping for new clothes, only Diwali, birthdays, and functions in the family warranted such extravaganza. 

This activity was a month-long-sometimes-longer entertainer! Firstly you had to go shopping for the fabric (pre-Amazon/Flipkart/Myntra era) since ready-made shops were few and virtually unaffordable! And then you got the material tailored.

My birthday was a month away, and this time around, we decided we would be smart and get the dress ready well in advance! Accordingly, after visiting three shops (may have gone to more, had they existed!), Mother and me decided to buy the fabric we liked at the first store! The indulgent and boisterous salesman complimented us on our selection and added that, we had been lucky to get the last piece from the bale!

This purchase was triumphantly carried home and exhibited to all and sundry to be ooohhed and aaahhed and for everyone to offer their designer suggestions! 

Then came the poring over various patterns from magazines and straining our memories to recollect what Mrs Vohra's Chinky had worn last Diwali! 

Once we had zeroed in on our aspirational design we decided to take it to the best tailoring shop in town - 'Stitch-Well Tailors', a crummy, stuffy old place in a crowded market. This 'Haute-Couture' fashion house, was famous for its ladies tailoring in latest designs and also known for its particularly nasty and bad-tempered proprietor-cum-Master Tailor.....known as 'Masterji'!

The power this diminutive bespectacled man wielded over the brawniest of women was note-worthy! Brusque no-nonsense womenfolk were found gushing and cloying around in his shop, in the hope that he would tailor their clothes better than others or at least deliver them on time. And heaven forbid if you raised a voice of dissention against the 'Master' at an unsatisfactory creation or at the delay in delivery!

He would vent vengeance on them the next time they came to him! While measuring them he would mention in clear hearing, that their waist size had shot up....again! That would make any weight-conscious lady cringe and wilt....especially in the presence of an audience of her contemporaries!

To Stitch-Well Tailors we headed. Mother nervously stuttered to explain the design we wanted and even displayed my zealous sketches of the same......only to be waved away by the 'Master'! No one but he decided what we wore! We meekly handed over the material and measurements and returned home fervently praying that he would be in a good mood while cutting out the pattern! 

My last experience with Masterji had been a happy one!
Oh! The ecstasy at finding a perfect fit was unbeatable! Immediate requests for dress trial and ramp-walking were only too eagerly obliged! Strutting around and posing in different angles/lights was of course mandatory! 
And then of course you couldn't always be so lucky! After half-a-dozen visits, post the delivery date scribbled on the bill, the dress finally arrived! I remember being practically delirious by then!
The Master's  bad mood could sometimes result in a creation so agonizing, you wondered whether he had meant the outfit for you or the midget Joker from the visiting circus! This was one such creation! :(

The tears that followed this debacle, mandated an alteration trip to Stitch-Well. If Masterji had been surly earlier when we came in with virgin cloth on our hands (for massacre at his hands), it was nothing compared to the attitude he meted out when we came in for repairs/alteration on his creation! 

Mother began delicately, 'Masterji, this frock fitting has gone a bit awry, could you just fix it, her birthday is just a week away.' Masterji cast a sidelong glance at the offending garment, and nonchalantly continued ironing his latest 'masterpiece' to set it on display. Mother continued in her best cajoling voice, 'Masterji, just see what you can nowadays I tell you, so fussy about fashion and all!' I was looking at my feet with a shameful look....after all how ungrateful was I to come to him...again...after he had gone through all that trouble to....MESS UP MY NEW DRESS....I was seething inside!!

Eventually, he absently nodded his head and said, 'I'll see what I can do....but I am not sure I can fix it by her birthday! See that huge pile of pending new orders? If I sit down to resolve all the fussy customers with already delivered items, when will I complete the new ones?' 
A very valid theory when you consider his viewpoint!

A distressed pair, me and Mother walked back home, racking our brains to come up with some brainwave to wade through this trying challenge! Father noticed my wan face and discreetly asked Mother what was bothering me. Mother's outpourings on the tailor's ill-fitting creation, disturbed this otherwise non-interfering-in-parenting-matters-man!

I miserably began counting down the days to my birthday 6,5,4,3.......I could not bear to think of facing all the friends, family and neighbors wearing the 'almost brand-new hand-me-down dress' from a cousin living was the only dress people had not seen me wearing, reason being - my cousin was at least 6 inches taller than me! Imagining myself in the said costume, now altered by Mother, set me off on a fresh bout of bawling! 

Enter Father: Carrying a large plastic bag bearing the logo of 'Milan' (not sure whether this Children's clothing store in Dadar, Mumbai was named after the famous Italian fashion capital or the boring Hindi word meaning....getting together, I prefer to think it was the former!) 

He came up to me and handed me the bag with a lovely smile, a wink and a pat on my head. I could not believe my eyes when I opened the box within to reveal in between layers of tissue paper, the most beautiful dress I had ever laid my eyes upon! 

It was a light peach chiffon creation with a printed profusion of English country roses , a beautiful lace collar and a lovely satin bow at the waist!


My parents watched me pirouette in the dream creation with all the love and indulgence that only parents can have! Mother managed not to cringe at the exorbitant figures even as she surreptitiously snipped the price tag off the dress!

That was/is/will remain the best dress a little girl can desire! 

This hallmark dress was duly showcased on the said Birthday and many future events, and every time I wore it, it received compliments like never before! 
Even Mrs Vohra had to concede, her Chinky's new dress that her husband had bought on his UK trip wasn't as pretty as mine! 

And what happened to Masterji's repairing/altering you wonder? Well, the old rascal finally found time to rectify the garment, only by that time I had shot up a few inches taller! This dress was handed down to a younger cousin (poor thing, wonder whether she ever wore it?)

Sighhh.....will I experience that kind of thrill for a new dress ever again? 
Will my daughter feel the same about the dress I ordered for her? (after browsing four sites and buying from the first site!....heheheh....Yes! Somethings haven't changed!)

I seriously doubt it!

What do you think of online shopping? 

Does it satiate/thrill you just the way shopping at a regular store does? 

Do you miss the simple pleasures of the years gone-by? 

Do share your thoughts,would love to hear......

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