City Landmark – Arman Sewing Machine Repairing Shop, Jaffrabad
A thing of beauty.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
A room half-submerged in darkness. Rusty relic-like equipments piled up next to each other. And a man kneeling upon a desk, his hands blackened with grease, his forehead furrowed into deep concentration.
It could be a scene from one of those 17th century Dutch paintings.
Arman Sewing Machine Repairing Shop in north-east Delhi’s Jaffrabad has the character of a contended introvert, happy in her own company.
This is an illusion. The little shop in fact depends on its neighbourhood for survival. This part of Jaffrabad is bisected into a series of parallel streets, and many of them are lined with professionally run tailoring units, locally called “factories”, that process denim pants. And guess where do a number of these “factories” send their faulty sewing machines for repair?
You ought to visit the workshop simply because of its beauty, so rooted to the particularity of its own setup and location that its ambiance cannot be duplicated elsewhere. The walls are scribbled over with phone numbers. While a giant sal wood table appears to have lived through such extremes of Delhi’s diverse seasons that its texture looks like molten chocolate.
This afternoon a damaged sewing machine is lying upturned on this table, like a hospital patient waiting for surgery.
Another gorgeous piece in the workshop is a long wooden “pechkas stand” nailed on the wall. It is stacked with a series of screwdrivers, as well as with the black-rimmed reading glasses of Ghulam Waris, the owner. Aged 54, he, along with his brother, Mahmud, founded the workshop after moving to Delhi from Amroha in UP some three decades ago. Actually, an item of his “wedding dowry” is the workshop’s most striking memorabilia–a hand-embroidered verse from Quran, set in a wooden frame. “It was made by Shabana, my wife” says the poetically inclined owner. Looking around at his establishment, he observes in a sing-song Urdu that “some things are not merely to be seen with eyes, but also to be felt with the heart.”
That’s certainly true for his workshop.
Situated on street no. 18, it’s open daily from 10 am to 9 pm. If Mr Waris likes you, he might even treat you to the excellent ginger-flavoured tea of Fahim Chai Walla (on street no. 19).