Sartorial Somethings

Saturday, October 21, 2017

If it can be counted as a past-time, then my favourite would be listening to my grandfather discuss his professional work life with me. 

He comes from a generation of suit wearing men to work. As a former diplomat passport holder, there's not just pride in calling the job he did for his life an achievement but also celebrating it. 

My earliest memory of him is sitting in the dining room. With more pepper and less salt handlebar moustache, and a goblet full of Chivas at house party, one after the other, he's quite the charmer when I think about it now. However, back in the day, narrating instances from work, with bosses he hated across the world to the cities/missions he was posted to with his family of a wife and three kids, it was almost boring to be in the room. 

In my defence, how many times can you hear someone tell you that the dinner parties in those times were exquisite or how the kids were not permitted (probably some shade at me, sitting and stuffing my face from the bowl of namkeen offered to the guests) and how my grandmother would sing for the audience regardless of who was hosting the dinner. 

Despite that, at twenty six I can confirm, I don't know half of it. I think his memoirs will be a bestseller. It's a pity typewriters are out of fashion and he doesn't care for computers much.  

The more I equate my professional life with his, I feel like he should be awarded a medal for sticking it out to the point of retirement. The man raised three kids with a wife, and built a house all after starting from nothing. Those with the genes that I have inherited is nothing short of a m a z i n g.

I'm in a house full of everything. I have no kids and no significant other. I can't keep my shit together for eight hours at work, despite everything. 

Maybe, it's a generation wide gap or maybe the working conditions are extremely hostile where I am at, but the fact is that anyone who has stuck out with their job for a year, for two or ten or life, they have all my attention. My time only stops for people who know their shit. 

With my grandfather, things are different. Though he may be the only person in the family I take seriously with regard to taking professional advice, man, I can't match up to his swagger. 

Impeccably dressed with a pack of cigarettes, I'm sure he dies a million deaths when he sees his grandkid walking to office in a pair of rugged Keds, ripped boyfriend jeans and a t-shirt that has a banana embroidered on it. 

Although, he should be pleased. I didn't opt for what I wanted to do when I was young, become a Channel V VJ. They shut down the music channel, I'd be jobless by now. 

Last year, when I was leaving for my vacation, he handed me cash as parting gift and asked me to pick "Office clothes".

"What can I possibly buy? I don't wear that stuff."

"Just buy shirts and pants. People look good in formal wear. You should look smart when you go to work."

"Nobody cares. People wear anything and come."

He's seen me through my "Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animal" ugly sweater phase to dhoti to even Minnie Mouse acid print t-shirt and still cheered me with a "Have a good day!" on most mornings. 

Until this year again, when I was traveling for my annual vacation and he gave me money on account of buying clothes. 

"Buy your office uniform. Kids look good in it."

"What office uniform?"

"What people wear to work. That uniform."

"We don't have one."

"Still buy some. You should have those clothes."

I stopped Sinner at a place where she was buying this adorable Catholic School girl pleated skirt when I saw a formal skirt, two sizes too big. 

The price was obnoxiously high and the lady selling it, too rude. I paid her in cash and made my way out. 

"My grandfather wanted me to buy some formals. This should be okay, right?"

I returned to Delhi with two ripped boyfriend jeans, a whole lot of crap including another Storm Trooper tshirt. A fortnight after I settled in, I had a work meeting with obnoxious clients, where a formal skirt would be the only accessory I needed to shoot myself in the head.

Decked in a straight, stiff shirt (lifted from my sibling's closet) and that skirt, I looked every bit an average MBA graduate seeking a job at the said corporate. 

"You look lovely! You should buy more such outfits."

Both my grandfather and my mother were pleased to see me that day when I returned home early than usual. 

Since then, I've been wearing shirts more often and trying to clean up but it's hard. However, if anything, it's worth going by that people do take you seriously if you clean up for once. Professionals value your face because it's wrapped around a collar. 

Lesson learnt- if you're tolerating your boss, make sure you give them your best bitch face. That can't happen when you're in pyjamas. Show up in a formal skirt and give them fresh hell. 

Experience and wisdom can teach what no Cosmopolitan or Vogue can. 

Grandfather - 1, Fashion Magazines - 0. 

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