lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Monday, June 26, 2006

Ozymandias and all that

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Friends, netizens and my dear readers. Lend me your eyes. I post not to praise the durability of things but to mourn the obsolescence that seems to wear objects out sooner than I tire of them.

If I had a hundred Rupees for every hand-bag I reluctantly stopped using, every favourite pair of footwear I despairingly abandoned, every comfy nightie I had to discard because it became threadbare with age, every wallet I bid a tearful farewell as I transferred cards and cash from… Well, um, I'd be some 50 K richer. Let's not go into lingerie, okay; I don't want to cry.

It's all very well for Theodore Tilton to say

“What is fame?
Fame is but a slow decay—
Even this shall pass away.”,

and Shelley to wax lyrical about the transience of material things; why couldn't they have written about getting used to a pair of shoes or a wallet or a handbag and having to discard the item because it gets so decrepit that isn't useful any more? It would strike more chords, I am sure.

Beloved footwear getting too old and needing more repairs; favoured handbags getting old, the lining giving up its ghost, straps falling off, buckles quitting; lucky wallets getting so tatty that your cards keep falling out: what do poets who sang about impermanence know about the pangs of parting with your favourite things?

I got used to cats; kittens even, dying on me. I was fairly well prepared when our pooch went to the long W A L K in the sky. I am used to changing things as they wear out, too. But it is a painful thing.

If it is footwear, you miss your older pair horribly and pine for them as you break in the new pair. You get new blisters and new chafing points and new corns.

You get used to handbags with different partitions and different zips. You start off fumbling but you get used to the different zips and compartments and all that.

I'd boasted about my 'still going strong after a decade' jeans which now walk into history. It turns out, now that I did the numbers, grr, that they are nine years old. They were bought about the time when Indian Independence was celebrating a golden Jubilee.

Today I found a rip in the saddle-stitch (for the uninitiated, it is the double row of stitches that grace most jeans) of the inseam of my jeans. Before anyone remarks about thunder-thighs and bulging, I want it made clear that I am actually thinner than I used to be when I bought them; and my jeans don't cling, they droop. Okay? Stop sniggering.

The wearing out at the ankles and the fraying was all part of aging, jeans and me together, no problem. But this is serious. I can't repair it, or get it repaired, because it will mean reconstructing the whole affair to match the stitching. No darn darning can take care of it.

Boo Hoo.

These jeans were what I wore when I went on my only holiday ever in Nepal; I wore them when I won enough from the one armed bandit to finance a side-trip to Chitwan; and I wore them when I went on bird-watching and tiger tracking trips. But I was dressed in my then favourite and ancient work out tights and a T-shirt emblazoned with yak yak yak yak yak and five heads of the beast when our trekking party was charged by a rhinoceros almost… But that is another story.



Anonymous Ash said...

You forgot to lament yellowing books and aging kitchen utensils, Lali.

Charged by a rhino almost? Do tell.

1:57 pm  
Blogger Raj said...

There is an outfit called, "Mr.Pronto"in Chennai that repairs old handbags and footwear and does a great job of it. They are a couple of notches higher than the usual cobbler type, in that they have some fancy machinery and gadgets. Zips,lining, straps - you name it, will be replaced and you still have the feel of your old shoe or bag. So, senti-lalitas of Kolkata, search for a "Mr.Pronto" there.

2:24 pm  
Blogger Priya said...

Ooooo to part with old shoes, bags and jeans! Did you have to remind me? My incurable bag fettish has driven me to dedicate an entire shelf in one of my old cupboards in Cal to the completely unusable ones. (The better half threatens to throw them all away. But wouldn't dare, knows I'd vamp him;))The shoebox in my ma's house still has some of my old stillatoes and comfy strappies. As for my jeans, I have outgrown my favourite pair, so they just lie low in my cupboard while I go and splurge on new ones. Just watching those old pair of jeans inspires me (sometimes) to get back into shape. But alas, even those aren't inspiration enough!

2:34 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ash- You had to remind me, didn't you? I have to get a new omelette pan, and I don't want to talk about my Webster shedding pages and going yellow with age and use. It is all too sad.*wipes a tear*

Raj- Thanks for the tip. Oi, my Calcutta readers! Do speak up. Do you know any such gems of repair shops?

Priya- You are a packrat, too? I can't bear to throw away old favourites either. My lord and master has Audio Amateurs and Wireless Worlds from thrity years ago. We are kindred spirits. :D

4:32 pm  
Blogger Siva Sivaaa said...

What do you do with old furniture Missus Em? Do you preserve them making your home resemble a museum or do you give them away to antique shops?

5:39 pm  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

A ripped seam is no reason to discard your jeans, Lali. I am sure you can wear them a couple of years more before having to junk them.

I wore them when I won enough from the one armed bandit to finance a side-trip to Chitwan;

And a rhino charge? Tell us about the holiday.

6:43 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Siva- Umm, you touch a sore nerve there. Always alert, is it our motto?

I will blog about the saga of old furniture, okay?

Rajesh- At last, a friendly understanding and charitable take. I don't want to give up on those jeans yet, thanks ever so much for telling me I can wear them for another couple of years. You sweetheart, you!

For that, I may consider telling you about my Nepal holiday and being charged by a rhino. :D

10:39 pm  

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