Friday, February 22, 2008

The Perfect Fit

The other day I helped myself to a shopping spree at the Shopper's Stop sale, during my Court lunch break. This isn't as glamorous a post as you think it is. For starters, I was shopping for work clothes. Which can be fun. But not for me. You see, my life is, and I kid you not, black and white. And maybe grey, and off white. Beige. Brown, but not too much of it. The Bar Council of India refuses to "move with the times" and allow for Indian lawyers to appear in Court in Formal Clothes, and not the black-and-white rule that we have been following for centuries. Harsh, but then again, looking at the way most Mumbai lawyers dress even with the dress code, I shudder to think what I could be subject to if the rules were relaxed. If you don't believe me, you haven't seen the infamous Zebra Crossing trousers, highly popular amongst the men in trial litigation, and on certain occasions, my Boss also strides in with them. I'd have burnt them, but I would rather see the stripes that get my Boss to take his pants off.

Now Shoppers Stop has its "Sale" merchandise arranged in several piles of clothes marked "XS", "S", "M", "L", "XL" etc. I gleefully moved towards the "Small" pile, gleeful because I discovered that that was where I belong just a few weeks ago, at Westside. After subjecting myself to various shapeless Medium sized Kurtas, I found one which was just right - and dare say I - flattering. As I slipped out of the kurta (as opposed to squeezing out of the kurta) I noticed what was different - it was a "small". Yay!

After much digging I found one smart looking beige one, and one in black, with interesting work in front, including a metallic attachment which resembled a small photo frame. At first I thought I was playing with fire, but when I put it on, I wore my band (the freakish white collar that lawyers wear for no explicable reason) I found that it served as an efficient cover up. However, the sleeves were baggy, the waist was of no consequence and it looked a little like a sack. As regards the beige one, while it was a little too snug around my hips, the lower back portion of the kurta puffed up, there was easily enough space in there for a Nano. Which brought me to the conclusion: I needed a size larger for the beige, and a size smaller for the black. One woman, two sizes.

I was a circus freak.

I pulled my own clothes on, shoved past waifish women trying on clothes and asking their mothers, who are bearing the burden of middle age and the accompanying bulges, whether they looked fat in them. As I returned to the pile, I found an XS (gasp!) in the black, but was not so lucky with the beige. Harrowed, I returned back into the room, threw on the XS and cringed at the lack of adjustment to my lower body (but admired the fit of the shoulders and sleeves). I put the beige on again, for a second look. Maybe I would have lost the weight I had on 10 minutes ago and this would fit just fine!

As expected, it was as ill fitting as ever. I decided to take a second opinion from the one person who would tell me the truth and not feed me some candy floss just so I could feel good about myself and buy it.

I opened the door and stood in front of the scowling trial room attendant, who looked grossly underfed.

"What's wrong with this?"

She looked me up and down, and turned me around. "It fits well up here... but..."

Well, at least she didn't have an issue identifying the problem.

"Aye raju, is mein bada size dekho! Large!"

"This is a SMALL" I growled.

She looked at me disbelievingly.

This could not be happening. I was a Large now? This was one promotion I certainly wasn't looking forward to. Women around looked at me, in my ill fitting kurta with the back that made me look like a confused kangaroo, I could hear their not-so-sympathetic-tut-tutting. But I wasn't going down without a fight.

"Aur size nahin hai ma'am", scowlface informed me.

"Look. It fits till here. Why can you just get the alterations guy to open it up from the side till the point at which it fits?" In actuality, this would result in the beige kurta becoming party wear, but this was a prestige issue, and besides, it was 40% off.

She exhaled slowly, and realizing that she was way out of her league, she called the alterations guy.

The AG was short, with a measuring tape draped around his shoulders and a pencil behind his ear. He was scruffy, bald, and wore nothing that looked designer even by a longshot. He walked in looking completely bored and nothing seemed to catch his interest, not even the semi naked women or my ill fitted disaster story.

He took one look at me and said the words I least expected from him:

"This has to be tighter."

So saying, he bunched up my 'backpack' and furrowed his brow.

"Not tighter," I explained. "It's already tight. Here." I placed my hands on my hips for emphasis.

"That I'll open." he yawned. He scribbled some notes on a pad and yawned again.

I suddenly had a brainwave.

"Wait right here"

For the next ten minutes, I modelled Black XS and Black S in front of him, explaining how I loved how XS fit my frame, but the fit of S was so much more comfortable, but even then, it looked like a sack. Or some such gibberish. He watched my little parade nonchalantly, made me wear the Small, again furiously scribbled, and that was that. I paid, and was told to come back in 1 hour.

After window shopping and a Bembo's burger (don't even ask) I walked back in, and claimed my clothes. I was too scared to even try them on. I went home, in the midst of Raj Thakarey's arrest, and while Mumbai speculated on whether he was going to be remanded to Judicial or Police Custody, I tried on my Kurtas.

And, by Jove, it was, a perfect fit.

In the midst of the mad scribbling I asked the AG if this was normal, having to all but restich garments completely.

"Size ka kuch nahin hota hai" he cooly replied. "Har aadmi ko suit karta hai, waise banana padta hai."

Life may not throw up situations in which you fit very well, but at least there are some places where you can achieve a perfect fit. :)