Cut to size

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By S V L Narayan


Most of us need some alteration to be done to our clothes. Whether it is to reduce the length, increase the waistline or even change a defective zip. On Lodhi Road in New Delhi, you have a whole row of alteration specialists going under exotic names like 9th Wonder, 12th Wonder and even Wonder Ka Wonder ! However, tailors in Bangalore are a snobbish lot. They feel it is below their dignity to accept such menial jobs like alteration.

In our apartment complex, we have a tailor named Shamanna who thrives on doing alteration work. He has been provided a place in the basement along with the ironwallah. No one knows what exactly he used to do in the past but from the time he arrived here it has been like manna from heaven for the residents.

I bought a lot of ready-mades at a sale in the US. However, as my physique is nowhere near that of an average American, these clothes were lying unused for a long time. Thanks to Shamanna, I have been able to resurrect them. He has in turn reduced the length of trousers, narrowed the bottom, removed or added bottom folds. He has even converted my Nordstrom gabardine trousers to stylish golfing shorts. For shirts he has shortened the half sleeves, altered the full sleeves cuff, or even reduced full sleeves to half sleeves.


However, there are times his judgement goes haywire. A couple of Hilfiger shirts had to be shortened. He took the measurement and returned the altered ones in an hour’s time. Unfortunately, he forgot that American shirts generally have a curved cut on the sides. So the front length was okay but he had gone ahead and cut the sides, too in a curve. When I wore those shirts they looked like something the modern Indian girl wears on top of her jeans!

My wife gives blouses to be altered or a fall to be stitched on a sari. In a weak moment she also gave him a brand new material to stich a salwar kameez. Shamanna was at his creative best. One leg of the salwar had vertical stripes and the other one had horizontal ones. He claimed there was not enough cloth to match both the legs. If that had been designed by Manish Malhotra or Abu Jani my wife would have worn them and showed off.

Unfortunately, Shamanna has a weakness for a tipple. He completes quickly any work given to him on a Friday morning and collects his money immediately. The after effect of a hangover generally delays his arrival to work on Saturday mornings. Recently there was a move to throw him out. Most residents, including yours truly, stood by him and persuaded the residents’ association to keep him back.


  1. December 16, 2011

    S V L Narayan

    Mohan,the tailor is back!He returned unheralded just the way he had disappeared.His first task for us was to stitch together two single bedsheets to make it in to a nice double bedspread.

  2. December 11, 2011

    S V L Narayan


  3. October 28, 2011


    Ha ha, very creative (and life-like too). And what you say is absolutely true.. CB’s books are Indian-ised Mills and Boons stuff. No more depth than that!!

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