Same Designed dresses…fashion, economics or bonding….growing up in Simla of the Sixties
Amma would get for both of us similar dresses… not the readymade ones but the self stitched ones…which was wise and economical for her as all our dresses were stitched at home by Amma. She was not the only one doing it…many of our friends who had sisters would flaunt proudly same print and designed dresses. Sometimes siblings would be recognised solely on the basis of same designed dresses!!! Not only siblings but even Devranis and Jethanis in a family would get same suit….same colour and same designs!
And during family functions when suit cloths would have to be gifted to all the relatives, Bauji would buy a full thaan from a shop in the Gunj Bazaar, near to the Krishana mandir. These small shops sold full thaans of cloths! But for us it was Hakam Mull Tani Mull only wherefrom we would get cloth of our own choice under the guidance of Bauji and Amma!!!
For Amma it would solve many a problems. The biggest was there would be no fighting over who got what…”why her dress is better than mine?” would not have a basis of any quarrel between us. Amma would stitch the clothes in same design with just a minor change so that we would be able to distinguish our dresses from getting interchanged. My elder sister was always very careful about her clothes whereas I was and still am much careless…. Old habits die hard! Do there would be so many quarrels overs who’ve dress it was….so Amma would add a different coloured piping or a lace to distinguish between the dresses!
Amma would, while cutting the fabric would make the most judicious use of the fabric…getting a sleeve from here and the other from there. When Amma would spread the cloth on the floor by clearing the available space, we would sit nearby but not very close to obstruct her hand wielding the scissors. And we would be so alert to hand over to her the “inch tape” or the chalk or anything else that she needed. Asking for a sharp scissors from a neighbouring massi was as normal as running to the scissors sharpening Sardar ji near to the Kangra Bhojnalaya in the Lower Bazaar!
And then running to the shop of Telu, with a small piece of cloth to match the thread. I loved his shop….it had threads of all colours!!! Those were not the days of colour cards…but he would open a small pack and get the thread!And Amma would start with her stitching project….the whole house would be full of threads, cloth pieces and we would watch Amma turning the cloth into beautiful dresses.
Nothing….nothing in the world can match the excitement that we felt sitting close to Amma when she stitched our dresses!! Amma would hand stich “what we called Tichh buttons”….as they made a “Tichh” like sound…. How funny it seems today that I learnt my h later in my adult age that these were “Touch buttons”!! But what’s in a name…as what was in the same designed dress stitched out of same cloth piece for us. Amma did the same when she got sons….and two of them!!! It was as if God, too, wanted her to stitch same bush shirts for her two sons… He, too, loved to see siblings dressed in same dresses!!!
In my turn when I turned a mom and had two daughters of my own….I would stitch for them dresses of the same colour and pattern…of the same cloth length!!! They looked pretty to me….reminding me of my childhood days.Now my daughter’s are in their Thirties but once a year they make it a point to get a top of the same colour and design and wear it at the same time… And how I adore them!
The eldest with two kids of her own…a son and a daughter… purchases same designed tops for them…at least a few pairs!! And it makes the Nani so happy as the child within the ancient frame of Nani rejuvenates and starts jumping up and down the stairs of Lower Bazaar Simla of the Sixties…. And the taffeta frocks….of same colour and same design….of two sisters making swish-swash sound…..a sound which would remain with me for all my life…reminding me of life in Simla of the Sixties!!!