Bubble Wrap

Wanted: a karigar and a darzi

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How the unfaltering demand-supply logic collapses when it comes to good, reliable blouse tailoring.

In a land so obsessed with jewellery and tailored clothing, I’ve never understood why it’s so difficult to find a good karigar (artisan) who works with jewellery, or a punctual, sensible darzi (tailor). Earlier this year, I wrote a story about the search for the perfect blouse. Thinking back it should have been a story about the search for the perfect blouse tailor. I’d speed-dated several tailors for my piece, and by the end I thought I’d found “the one”. Alas, Ghulambhai wasn’t.

First he promised to get the work done within a week, then he said two weeks, then a month, finally, after two months of having my blouse pieces gather dust in a corner of his shop, I took them back. The most difficult part of the end of our relationship has been knowing that he was very good at what he did, when he chose to do it. (So good in fact that I bought him oils for his arthritic limbs.)

Jewellery artisans have that same genetic dysfunction. They’re punctual and brilliant at the start, but quickly start slacking off once they know you’re hooked. I think they just get bored. Maybe they simply tire of dealing with the same client. I don’t know. I’ve thought a lot about this—and, believe me, done a lot more than just think about it. But I still don’t have a karigar who can follow a design correctly or a darzi who’s punctual and good at the same time. Let’s see if my luck will turn this Christmas.