Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hand Me Downs

If you were a child that grew up in the 70s and 80s and from a middle-class family in India chances are you ended up with hand-me-downs.  The funny thing was that the source of hand-me-downs would typically be from siblings, relatives or close family friends - but it was considered absolute taboo to get any "second-hand" clothes from shops!

It didn't matter if the clothes didn't fit.  Too long - no problem - fold, run through machine (singer sewing machine) - there you go.  Too loose? Again machine - who cares if the sides are uneven?  Too short or too tight?  Hmmm... sadly discarded and handed over to some other recipient.  The parents weren't picky either - so a mistakenly shrunk pair of office trousers from an uncle, with a mismatched plaid shirt from a cousin (machined over) and became part of the wardrobe.

For a long time I had to put up with my sister's clothes - she being the eldest in the entire family - got spanking brand new clothes.  Note the clothes weren't handed over directly - they went through a few cousins first!   The only time we all got new clothes was only for occasions like Diwali or some other festival.  

Also remember those pattu-pavadais with their innumerable tucks?  The joy when the last of the tucks was removed!  Remember our moms washing them with the special soap-nut seeds?

Sometime after those lean childhood years - the hand-me-down system abruptly ceased.  New clothes became the norm and not just on special occasions either.

And so I got this beautiful new gorgeous (and expensive) silk kurta - unfortunately it shrunk a size too small (should have dry-cleaned it but mom swore by her soap-nut cleansing).  Well I simply handed-it-down to my sis. You see by then I'd grown taller than her!