Just a few weeks ago I met my tailoring instructor, a lady named Roma, at the Dragons program house in Patan. Accompanied by her son, who served as a translator for our introduction, Roma led me to her clothing shop, a humble workplace filled with adorned women’s dresses, vibrant cloths, and 3 sewing machines. I was quick to get to work. Knowing I wanted to make a kurta, a traditional Indian outfit that has spread throughout southeast Asia, I drew and measured my design. After a couple days of math and measurement, I was ready to but my cloth. Roma led me to a fabric shop on a main road near Durbar Square, and I searched through various colors and patters until I found a red, white and brown checkered cloth. We bought it and headed back to the shop. As I came to realize, Roma was kind of a celebrity around town. Walking through the busy streets, many called out to her, to which she responded quickly and with a smile. I had no idea what was going on, but would put on a “cool” face that said “yeah I’m with her.” Back at the shop, I cut my fabric and practiced making straight lines on the machine. As you can see from the photo of the cloth scraps filled with thread, I easily mastered the sloppy and curved line technique, a popular technique used by tailors aging from 2-3 years old. Though I faced difficulty maneuvering the machine at first, I improved my lines everytime Roma sighed and had to pull out all of my stitching from my kurta cloth. After house of spinning the machine’s wheel with my right hand, guiding the fabric with my left, and rocking my feet back and forth on the pedal, I finished my kurta. I stuffed my trouser waistline with elastic, sewed my chest pocket onto my shirt, and placed buttons beneath my collar, wrapping up my experience tailoring with Roma. Over my time working at the shop, I learned to know her sister, mother, son, and nephews+nieces, all of whom treated me with kindness and respect. Saying goodbye was hard, but I will always remember my conversations with Roma (even if they were broken English/Nepali) and the laughed we shared (even if I was the butt of the joke almost every time). As I finish my time in Nagarkot and Dhulikhel, I look ahead with excitement, but not forgetting those who made my time in Patan extremely special and worthwhile.
Here are photos of me and Roma, my sewing station, my superb first stitches, and me in my kurta.