September 20, 2006

Shine Garments rip

During my last term in college, some of us were looking for a “chill” course and came across “international trade”, presumably full of international gyan! Unfortunately, the course was a tough cookie and remains a mystery but for one comment; “free trade benefits societies as a whole but not all individuals”.

Shine Garments was our village tailor shop (Shine being his son and my class mate) which our family frequented. Over the years, the shop grew from owner-operated to employ 5-6 people! During festivals, he would be working overtime but always found time to deliver mine on time even delaying my brother’s work (which enraged my bro). Once, I overheard him telling my dad that he refused an offer from “Gulf” as business was far too profitable to close down.

Then slowly things started to unravel. I noticed the change in my brother first; infuriated by delays and being “fashionable” he switched to “ready made”. I remained loyal for a while but soon began to like the convenience as well. The tailor noticed my absence and once caught hold of me and remonstrated and a chastened me went back to “tailor made”.

Nowadays, on trips to Kerala, I often go by his shop but never enters, partly out of embarrassment and partly because I have no reason to. But he was one of those fixtures on which you hang memories of a pleasant childhood. However, I did notice that the shop was looking less prosperous with fewer freshly stitched shirts on display. On a recent trip, I noticed that the shop had disappeared. I asked around, fearing death, and was relieved to hear that shop had been shifted to another location. Next day, I found the much smaller new shop and went up to chat with him (relieved he was alive but guilty for thinking he was not!) and asked about Shine. The answer was painful!

“Ready made” garments destroyed his business so badly that he had to fire all his employees. Hence, Shine decided to go to “Gulf” as construction labor. He still runs what is left, being too old to try his luck in “Gulf”. The main portion of his income now comes from “alteration” of “ready made” clothes but he also works 2 days a week as an in-house tailor in a garment shop.

After chatting for a while, I left and on the way back decided to get a pair of trousers stitched. But that didn’t seem enough; I represented a group which gained massively from the new economy while he represented the group of which my professor spoke; the ones who lost for the changes that benefited society as a whole!


PS: I never managed to get those 2 trousers pieces stitched; I was too lazy and instead purchased a few “ready made” back in Mumbai…unfortunately I don’t even feel guilty!