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Anand Tailoring: the man who hosted probably the last great adda in central Kolkata

He ran a boozeless pub where friends were made across ages, liquid preferences and religious sentiments

Mudar Patherya | Published 13.08.22, 06:37 PM
Anand Govindan in his shop with his framed diploma from a tailoring college in London

Anand Govindan in his shop with his framed diploma from a tailoring college in London

‘Anand Tailoring’ passed away more than five years ago.  

For all those who grew up in central Calcutta in the Seventies and Eighties, Anand Tailoring was not a shop where you went to get kapda silaaoed; it was your boozeless pub where friends converged to celebrate life.  

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Anand Tailoring was a serious tailor. There was a diploma on the wall from a tailoring college in London, the frame more than monopolised by the red embossed seal of the institution. One looked at that and prepared to pay Rs 20 more for a shirt he was about to take measurements for.  

In between trading gossip on whose wife had decamped with who — he would punctuate the conversation flow with “Really?” when all he was thinking about was the Raymond’s suiting that had just been brought in for his approval — he would place a pin between his teeth, clasp the two belt ends of the buckram trousers with his thumb and index finger, look up with left eye to ask “Tighter?”, take a cake of blue-coloured soap-like chalk, write incongruous code on the trouser pleat and then abruptly pronounce, “Done! Come next Friday to collect!” 

Anand was a stud. He looked like one. Well-muscled. Grew a beard. Rode a sturdy Enfield. Killed a bottle each evening. Cut clothes well. Spoke courteously. Made friends easily. Was unhurried grace. His shop was the Mecca for all those who needed the refuge of its air-conditioning to critique the blur of the world. 

In between trading gossip on whose wife had decamped with who — Anand would punctuate the conversation flow with “Really?” when all he was thinking about was the Raymond’s suiting that had just been brought in for his approval

In between trading gossip on whose wife had decamped with who — Anand would punctuate the conversation flow with “Really?” when all he was thinking about was the Raymond’s suiting that had just been brought in for his approval

Politburo of social commentary

The result was that his shop, shoulder to shoulder with the venerable Anandabazar Patrika, was possibly the last great adda of central Kolkata. The world converged to debate, dissent and dissect. Anybody walking past his crowded shop on Prafulla Sarkar Street would be convinced that Anand was doing good business when in reality an entire politburo of social commentators would be in session.  

Boxwallas from ABP reached home late with the excuse “Kaajer chaap!”, when all they had been doing that evening was demolish bottle after bottle (always at Anand’s residence on the floor above his shop). Youngsters whose shorts he had at one time stitched would now walk their evening pilgrimage to his place, put an arm around him like “Hail fellow, well met!” and friends (running businesses in another part of the city) would double up to write the Tailor Master’s naap (“Collar 34, shoulder 18…”). The cocker spaniel he owned would issue a periodic yelp and scuttle between dozens of legs. The Tailor Master, spectacles perched on the last inch of the nose, grinding the supari with the last left molar and lips pouted, would put his tape end to your chest and say “Chhattees” while Anand scribbled. 

Anand with some of his friends

Anand with some of his friends

Like an L9 passing through CR Avenue

Meanwhile, Adil would be explaining to ABP executive ‘BKC’ (Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee) how trade payments were getting delayed. Paresh would be offering a rumoured insight to Kalyan Mondal how a certain Indian batting opener (not to be named) had accepted money for swishing outside the off stump. Pappu would be in discussion about the declining standards of bikesmanship in Phears Lane to Kittu Khurana. And all this would be transpiring within just 60 square feet. There would be no standing room but the attendees would hang on like in an L9 passing through CR Avenue. Inhaling the nicotined oxygen. Talking with uninformed authority. Pronouncing judgement on the world.  

And then one day.  

The world changed. People moved to readymades. Friends increased. Customers declined. Anand left for Goa. His brother ran the shop. Then he too sold out. 

The sadness is that in one corner of Prafulla Sarkar Street, where friends were made across ages, liquid preferences and religious sentiments, someone stocks motor parts today. The other sadness is that in a corner of the world, the full-of-life Anand Tailoring (who the hell cares if his surname was Govindan or not) is just some ash bobbing on the Arabian Sea. 

Kolkata was poorer then; the world is poorer since. 

Anand at home with his mother

Anand at home with his mother

Last updated on 13.08.22, 06:39 PM
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