En route to the Wedding Reception (Bombay continued)

Posted by Kitara Julian On 5:14 PM

The second visit to the tailor proved the skill and craftsmanship this gentleman still possessed. Only a few alterations were needed and they’d be done the next day. Trousers fitted perfectly, so did the Raw Silk jacket. Now, 41 years later, I still wear it.

So by the next day all three pieces were ready. I told the tailor that he was a genius and should do more of his line of work. “No, not a genius, just very good tailor”, and with that we parted. Back at the Taj I put on my newly acquired attire. With my star-ruby ring, I looked like a Maharaja.

Meanwhile the wedding reception was coming up soon (hence all the tailor-visits and shopping). This time our host came along in the limousine, my partner and I in the back, while our host sat in the front, next to Sharma the driver. He looked debonair in his swallow-tail black jacket, vest, stripped trousers, ascot, patent-leather shoes, and top hat. He also carried an ebony walking stick with a silver handle. He was pleased with our appearance , different from when we met, at the art exhibition.

India in 1967 was not what it’s become today. Beggars were everywhere. On the streets you witnessed every stage of life from birth to death, and all the illnesses in between. Amongst them, amputees missing an arm or leg (sometimes both), or with a smashed-in face. A regular “picture horror show”. It’s hard to believe at first but some are deliberately maimed as children by their parents, to ensure a livelihood (as beggars).

At one point the limousine had to stop to allow a few ‘holy cows’ pass. They took their time! A beggar approached the limousine and stuck out his’ stump’ arm. I rolled open the window to give him a few rupees. Suddenly, whack! The cane of our host landed on my wrist, sending the rupees flying. Please close the window, quickly. Do not ever give them baksheesh. We’d never get out of here, there will be dozens around in no time!” I was in shock. He’d seen the proceedings in the rear-view mirror and reacted accordingly. A lesson, well learned.

Next stop: the wedding reception, and high society of Bombay. Signing off, Henri

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