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Dirtscapes

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Middle Class Denim Dreams - A Small Jeanology

Monday, November 12, 2007
Once upon a nostalgic-coma-inducing time, buying a pair of jeans used to be a slightly dodgy affair. It wasn't something I used to look forward to much, but contrasted with what you go through nowadays, it's enough to crank out a post. (Crank out... is right. Hear them squeaks already? Good...)

The first pair of respectable 'jean pants' I had bought was way back when I had got 'good marks' (that aspirational cornerstone of middle-class upbringing. More references here) in the tenth standard. All pairs of jeans bought prior to that are not being taken into consideration here, because they all had elastic bands with cute Snoopy/random ghoulish cartoon character labels on them, and they were all chosen by the mother.

Now, going shopping with the mother, is one thing I look back at, and wonder how I managed to live through it. A tribute to the sheer resilience of the human spirit if there ever was one. That was an age of brandless entities, and I'd go after stuff which you know, appealed to me. Holding up a pair which I'd like, I'd beam "Mummy, this fits! This fits! I want this!". Only to be swatted aside ruthlessly with a "Bhaisahab, baba (Oh how I hated to be called that. Oh how. And how, to this very day, she continues to call me Baba in front of strangers...) ko do size bada waala pant do." I'd go "What the...?", the shopkeeper would give us his best Vidya Balan smile, and the mother would go "He outgrows his clothes too fast... the same clothes won't fit him 6 months down the line." by way of explanation, one eye firmly on her monthly budget and one eye on crestfallen me. Of course, she doesn't recollect doing that ("I always gave you whatever you wanted!!!"), when confronted now, but some things do scar you for quite a long time (wearing a pant two sizes big is not exactly easy on the eye, body and soul)... and so you have no option but to remember them, time and again. A form of mental self-mutilation for the so inclined...


Psyche trip over, back to that first respectable pair. From the Flying Machine ("F-F-F-F-Flying machine, yeah, that's my jean(positively sic)") stable. Coming to the fits, there were just three. Slim, Comfort and Loose. Loose was too 'baggy' and tight was for football playing 'Catlick' friends. So Comfort it was. Least risk approach as always. Thought I'd get the best of both worlds - I was paying a packet for this, what if the tight ones made me look too twiggy/piggy? And my waist size was an odd number. So, you guessed it, the bigger size prevailed (full circle, full circle)...

Only to find out that it fit me, yes, but not so well, and made the lower half of my lithe, taut, running machine body look like an amorphous blob. Not to mention the horrors it did to my shapely rump, by simply making it disappear. But hell, it was worth 700 bucks, and I strutted around in them FYJC classrooms, wearing it like it was the dog's somethings. Till slowly, classmates started to make fun of it with increasing regularity. And suddenly, it wasn't all that anymore - contrasted with stuff my classmates were wearing, and all I craved for was a good, cheap pair of jeans that FIT.

Then came deliverance via a friend. A small little shop in Dadar, where you got 'brands' (Giordano, 'Dare') that 'fit'(and that included odd numbered waist sizes), and where you could snap up 3 pairs of jeans for the price of a Lee/Levi's et al. And so, with a little bit of 'out shirt' trickery to camouflage the classy labels (some other gems I'd seen were 'Currency', 'Zorba', 'Gainda' - as in Hippo and I really, really sh*t you not. It had a pic of a Hippo to make doubly sure you were sane, and 'Boundry'), one could stride around purposelessly in a nicely fitting pair of jeans, which did give you the occasional fabric burn thanks to the world-class, lightweight, soft textured denim which went into the making of these pants. But what the heck, they FIT. You just walked into the shop, and asked for 'feeting waala 400 ka' jeans, and that was it. No fancy ass descriptions (no pun intended).

College days over, and with the advent of corporate drone-ism, the jeans (like so many other aspects of life) started to fray and fade. On visiting the shop for replenishments, I was shocked to find air conditioning, glass counters and a bunch of snazzy, jhakkkasss, acid trip inspired clothing, all enough to give me a cumulatively dirty feeling. The guy recognized me, and said "Boss, ab woh waala maal nahi rakhte hain... baaki bolo to kuch accha item dikhaoon kya?" which added a little more to forementioned feeling, that I'd been buying god-knows-what till now.

Ah woe is me, and all that later, the hunt started afresh. But with a major, major difference. I had more money, and no constraints. Save one. The world of fits had moved on to downright avant-garde surrealism. Contrasted with the simple three earlier, you now had the motherload. Low Waist, Mid Waist, Super Low Waist (almost Shakira-esque if I might add. Smallest fly I'd ever seen), Button Fly, Regular, Regular Comfort, Straight Leg, Distressed, 'Classic' Anti-fits, and who knows what else. With varying washes, rips and flare sizes and assorted bling. All enough to make you give up the whole idea already...

When faced with this, it helps to narrow down your waist sizes, and then simply do an 'in-pin-safety-pin', and take the damn thing home. If you're lucky, it fits. If it doesn't, chances are no one will notice or care anymore, and beyond a point, neither will you.

posted by Tapan at 10:30 PM