Bauji’s love in contours of “garm coat” in Simla of the Sixties

Bauji’s love in contours of “garm coat” in Simla of the Sixties

Girls would be girls… always…. And so was I when suddenly I was so impulsive to get a new “garm coat” when I already had got one, only two years back. I was in college and had to be dressed appositly. The one I had, had a different collor, the one which had a button and a hole at the two ends of the collor and both ends when buttoned up would give a tugged up look to the neck, the style in vogue in early seventies. But next year it was lapel collars that were the buzz word and like all other girls of my age, especially college going ones, I wanted the new look coat and would imagine myself in the new coat. I am sure I would not have thought of a new coat had it not been for many of my class fellows changing their coats everyday the way we changed our suits! Now coats were expensive and having one was sufficient to last a few years and of course for us, the children of the lesser god’s, the entire college duration. But then these girls were having change of coats and that, too, warm and beautiful tweeds and God knows what material, so frequently.
It was because at that point of time Simla opened up its market to “phoren coats” or “rags” or “second hand” coats.

There were rumours floating that someone got a golden Guinea in the pockets of one such “second hand” coat!!! And many other such grapevine gossips made life of Simlaites so entertaining and exciting to scour for golden Guinea or green bucks that the origin owner must have forgotten in one of the pockets of the coat.
There was a shop or a godown on way to the Gunj where one could see big heap loads of these rags. The grapevine gossiping making the rounds was that the seller himself searched all the coat pockets before selling them in Sunday rah market.

Well coming back to those coats…these were outlandish so obviously oversized…especially for the little, petite demure pahari girls, but the tailors in the middle bazaar would cut and fit them to all shapes and sizes for nominal charges.

The more I saw many fashionable girls floating in multi-hued big lapel collared coats, the more I disliked my round collared tweed coat stitched by Ashoka tailors of the Lower Bazaar.

So one day I asked Bauji for one and told him about those “coats” and the tailors in Middle Bazaar who made them to fit any size or length. He looked at me and my round collared coat hanging at the back of the door on an iron peg. He didn’t say anything. The matter was closed. I continued with my big round collared coat for a few more days till it was First day of the next month. That day Bauji told me to get a coat length of tweed of my own choice from Hakam Mull Tani Mull shop where we got our clothes from. Even today, almost fifty years down the line, I vividly remember walking excitedly to the shop along with two of my friends, watching the spread of Tweed in checks and lines spread across the entire dedicated area, the multitude folds in haphazard manner unfurling the shades and textures of cloth of my dream ” garam coat”!!!

The shop had one section exclusively for the woollen and men clothings. The uncle who looked after this section lived in our Lower Bazaar neighborhood, next to Kammo and Rani’s house. A very soft-spoken person ehom I had never seen without a gentle smile on his face and black velvet topi on his head. With a beaming smile I moved towards uncle ji. And he welcomed me in a soft smile beaming across his face. We started selecting the right fabric in right colour and design…..and bought a striped one!!!
If my readers think what was a big deal in buying a coat-length of cloth….there was none as I, too, thought that time but today while reflecting on those incidents I find a lot many big deals hidden underneathe the soft contours of the “garm coat” fabric.
Bauji must have foregone his buying of “garam coat” to provide for my coat as buying two was, surely, beyond his budget. He must have continued with his rugged old coat for one more season assuring my Amma that it still had the warmth. But I could never notice it at that time as I was so excited for my new coat with lapel collars, straight pockets and brass buttons.
The coat is still lying neatly folded somewhere in my black trunk with warmth of Bauji’s love folded in all its contours!!!

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