| Subhas Chandra Padhi works at his home. Picture by Ashwinee Pati |
Bhubaneswar, June 30: From a seven-year-old brought up by his maternal uncles to the most sought-after tailor in Bhubaneswar, Subhas Chandra Padhi charted out a difficult route to success.
And Padhi’s clients have included political stalwarts like Biswanath Dash, Nandini Satapathy, Binayak Acharya and Biju Patnaik, all former chief ministers of Orissa.
His father left for Brindavan and became a sanyasi. In 1957, his maternal uncles brought him to Bhubaneswar to provide him a better education. Little did Padhi know that destiny had something completely different in store for him. After a short stint at a primary school, he became busy with domestic chores. Eventually, he became one of the most sought-after tailors in the state.
Former Governor B.D. Jatti, who became the vice-president of India later, also featured in his list of clients.
Padhi remembers the likes of former chief secretary Siva Ramana and political leaders like Batakrushna Jena, Laxman Mallick, Jagannath Mallick to name a few.
“Some of them who are still staying here, recognise me even today,” he says, adding: “But the memories associated with Biju Babu, Biswanath Dash and Nandini Satapathy were different.”
Padhi’s alma mater, Up-to-date Tailors, was the first shop in the city to start tailoring work and within years of learning the tricks, he took over as the chief. “I used to go to the residences of bigshots for measurements and to check their fittings once the orders were delivered,” says Padhi.
“However in Biju Babu’s case, the experience was different. I had stitched more than 600 kurtas exclusively for him.” “His kurtas always came with round necks sans collars. He was also very particular about his fittings and during trials,” Padhi reminisces.
Biju Babu perhaps had the largest collection of kurtas among all politicians in Orissa and he wore them matching with his dhotis.
On Biswanath Dash, Padhi says the former CM discouraged him to join the Government Ayurveda College near Mausima Square in Nageswar Tangi area. “There is no better option than to go and start your own enterprise,” Dash had said.
He had also granted Rs 1,000 from CM’s Relief Fund to Padhi in 1971 to purchase a sewing machine. “I also went to Nandini Satapathy’s residence to take orders. However, she came to know that there were no female tailors in the city previously. Then started a change and tailoring shops managed by ladies started coming up,’’ Padhi said.
Still the greatest encouragement and help always came from Biju Babu. “We were given Rs 175 for stitching each kurta while other tailors were getting Rs 55 for the same.,” smiles Padhi. However, Padhi still has not been able to get his own shop despite several attempts. He even tried to meet former chief minister H.K. Mahtab but with no luck.