City Hangout – Kohli Lal Yadav’s Lungi-Gamcha Stall, Chawri Bazar
The showroom of many shades.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This particular pavement stall stands out at Old Delhi’s Chawri Bazar despite all its other engaging distractions. It looks like an ersatz wardrobe fit for a poet.
The reality is somewhat different. Catering almost exclusively to the working class, it sells colourful gamchas and lungis. Nothing else.
“All this clothing comes from Tanda in Uttar Pradesh,” explains owner Kohli Lal Yadav, who points to cotton gamchas so soft you’d want to cushion your face in them.
His patrons are many. And they’re almost exclusively drawn from what he calls “the labour department”. They range from daily-wage labourers to rickshaw pullers.
Out there on the streets of Delhi are constant reminders, of scores of men wearing exactly his type of wear: lungi round their legs and gamchas around the necks. Or, perhaps, wrapped around their heads like a scarf.
Fabrics strung along a wall resemble a palette of various shades as Mr Yadav graciously engages with customers, his demeanor pulsating with quiet grace. Visiting his stall on any day of the week amounts to a soothing heart-pleasing rendevouz with him.
You may yourself find a need for a lungi or gamcha. Or, perhaps, transform the fabric into a curtain as a daily reminder of all those citizens working hard out there in the “labour department”.
Dresses for the ‘labour department’