City Landmark – Ahuja Tailor, Sadar Bazar, Gurgaon
A timeworn establishment.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s like the miniature museum of a dressmaker’s working life.
Ahuja Tailors at the Sant Lal market corridor in Gurgaon’s Sadar Bazar in the Greater Delhi Region is sparsely populated with aged objects that continue to resonate with beauty as well as utility. The wooden closet with the wide glass window instantly transports the visitor to a time when pieces of furniture tended to be handcrafted by carpenters one personally knew. The long wood-panelled mirror fixed slantingly on the wall has its looking glass grown hazy making it evocative of some bygone age. (Indeed, it wouldn’t look out of place in a movie depicting the decline of decadent nobility.)
Other noteworthy curiosities include rusty scissors, and a dainty sewing machine paired with long metallic needle stands.
The shop’s most enigmatic element is its owner. Dressed in a white kurta pajama, Nathuram Ahuja, 84, discloses that the closet was made by a carpenter he hired while setting up his shop in 1964. The mirror, however, was given to him by a friend. “But I have forgotten everything else about the friend, I don’t remember even his name… I’m too old… two of my four sons have already passed away.”
Turning his gaze to his misty self in the cloudy mirror, he mutters that he can no longer thread a needle. “At one time I was working for 16 hours daily but now…” He tapers off.
He now turns to a friend sitting in his dimly-lit shop and starts chatting about “purane din (old days)” when every household was well versed in tailoring and young men kept short hair by regularly visiting the barber. His voice resounds through the shop. Soon afterwards he takes out his mobile phone, calls up a nearby tea seller and orders a cup of chai.
Mr Ahuja says his surviving sons have taken up other occupations. “The shop will end with me.”
One hopes for him to remain active for many years so that this remarkable landmark—a piece of the so-called Millennium City’s early years—lasts longer.
You must come here not only to perhaps get a set of dress made by the experienced hands of this elderly tailor, but also to experience the shop’s slow-moving character, so far from the rapid world of today. The shop opens from 10am to 2pm. Sunday is closed.
The dressmaker’s museum