City Style – The Classy Delhiwalla, Golcha Cinema
Searching for the stylish.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla saw this man standing outside the Golcha Cinema in Daryaganj, a neighborhood on the outskirts of the Walled City. His navy-blue overcoat was unbuttoned and revealed a longish black jacket. The cream trousers gave way to velvety-brown leather shoes. The shirt was white; only the collars were visible. He also had a black bowler hat. There was no one dressed like him.
In winter, most men in Delhi bury themselves under layers of shawls, jackets and mufflers. Monkey caps are also popular. In my hundreds of months of wandering in the city, I never before came face-to-face with the Bowler hat.
The online encyclopedia Wikipedia describes the Bowler as “a hard felt hat with a rounded crown originally created in 1849 for the British soldier and politician Edward Coke, the younger brother of the 2nd Earl of Leicester.” According to a news story published in 2010 in the UK-based The Telegraph, “The bowler was born of a wealthy person’s idiosyncratic problem in the mid-1800s: how to keep his gamekeeper’s head from hitting troublesome branches as he rode round the estate on horseback.”
The hat went on to become an essential constituent in the dress code of British bankers, civil servants and politicians. Winston Churchill thundered down at Hitler with it as his headgear. Charlie Chaplin wore one in The Tramp. In the TV adaptations of Aghatha Christie’s murder mysteries, the almost-bald Belgian detective Hercule Poirot scored the British TRPs with a frequent flaunting of the Bowler.
But a Delhiwalla… in Daryaganj(!)
On any other person the said hat would have claimed all the attention. But this man, as he saw the camera, flashed a smile. Instantly, his striking dress (an import from Savile Row?) was reduced to nothing. The Bowler, too, vanished. All that the lens could retain of the man and his style was the very bearable lightness of his being.
Mr Holmes, I presume