Thursday, October 15, 2015

Master Tailor + Studio, Alwar, Rajasthan, India, Fall of 2009



It took months to finally wear the pants and shirts that this man made for me with such care. They hung in my closet all the while like articles from a distant past, a connection to the ancestors before him. This wonderful man is descendant from a long line of distinguished tailors, with one of his ancestors depicted in the painting behind him.

His family made clothing for everyone from royalty to the local, general population. Their work has been published in books, and remnants of those times still hung in the shop. He took great pride when he pulled them down from the hangers with a long stick to show me. The stitching was impeccable, the designs timeless. These were the very pieces that his father and grandfather had made.

When it came time to measure me for the proposed job, he smiled and told me that he had already measured me. He rattled the numbers to his son and my friend, Niranjan. Then he went ahead and made my measurements just in case, and the numbers coincided perfectly. The entire time I placed a recorder nearby to remember the moment when this most elegant of men did for me what few will ever experience.

We made his portrait in front of the very desk on which he would make my shirts and pants, the very desk on which his ancestors had worked. He stood with his tools nearby and allowed me to make twelve exposures. After which we had tea and biscuits.

Then Niranjan and I walked downstairs and into the street to find the fabric for the clothing. We walked a block or so to the store his father had sent us. The service provided was incredible in that they would pull any fabric down for us to see, without hurrying us at all. We selected four colors for the pants and the same number for the shirts.

My time with Nirvanavan Foundation was nearing its end in a day or so, so we made plans to meet after my work with Humana People to People India ended in order to make the exchange. When I did meet Niranjan for my clothes, they were prepared so beautifully in boxes, folded neatly and with the utmost respect. I remember placing them into my luggage and hoping that nothing terrible would happen to them during transport.

For the first time on my way back from my travels something more important than my camera equipment sat in the luggage. Today I wear this clothing with more ease, yet every time I need to take them to the local dry cleaner my heart skips a beat. I do look forward to another visit to India and to another fitting by the Master, an honor always to be remembered.