Thursday, May 13, 2010


When we were kids, jeans were not the ubiquitous youth-gear they are now. The only jeans brand that I can recall was AVIS (a spin-off from LEVI'S???), which sold out of a glass-fronted shop in the centre of Kolkata's iconic New Market. On the rare occasions that we stepped into the hallowed portals of New Market, I would gaze awestruck at the Avis Shop-window, so engrossed that I would nearly bump into the old canon that stood in the middle of the market courtyard. My cousin brother, Dadabhai, then studying to become an engineer at Jadavpur University, had a couple of pairs of stylishly faded indigo Avis-es. But he was a rare creature, orbiting our ordinary existence from his distant hostel life; so jeans were also something like Halley's comet, rarely seen, but never worn.

My first jeans was a hand-me-down from my cousin Tinnididi (who thankfully grew at a faster pace than me for all of twelve years, so I got lots of coveted second-handstuff. Unfortunately, she resolutely stopped growing after twelve, and my chief source of clothes ended there and then.). It was indigo at its indigo-est, with brown cord piping around the pockets. My legs being considerably longer than Tinnididi's, it was never really a comfortable fit, but I mulishly insisted on getting as much mileage out of it as I could, although I could barely sit down in it.

My first very-own, true-blue, first hand pair of jeans was gifted to me when I was twelve or so, by another cousin, Didia (who was my fashion inspiration for a long long time). It was a 'foreign' jeans - Didia stayed abroad with her husband and returned home once a year laden with goodies for all of us - so its NRI-status upped its fashion-quotient considerably.

It was hideously stone-washed in the fashion of the day, and horribly baggy, also in the fashion of the day.But baggy had its advantages - I could sit/lie/run/stretch in it comfortably. However, it was too precious for me to treat it like a second skin. I wore it only on special occasions - like on visits to cosmopolitan Calcutta and to birthday parties and suchlike. T-shirts were not good enough for my only pair of jeans. I wore it with pintuck tops and lace-embellished shirts. I even remember wearing it to my Mama's wedding (mother's brother), with a shot-grey full-sleeved pearl-embellished favourite top.

I might have looked like an awkward fashion disaster, but I sure felt awesome in my jeans.