Friday, April 03, 2009


A few days ago someone dropped some of my dance costumes at my favourite dobi shop. The uncle quoted her a price and as he was checking the costume. He found my initials on the costume (its their tagging system) and immediately asked are these Visithra’s?

After inquiring how I was, he immediately reduced the prices for the wash. (yes we get special prices everywhere – people like us).

Funny thing is, I haven’t been there in years.

A friend introduced them to me about 9 years ago when I was looking for a reliable dobi. The previous few I had used had damaged my sarees. The place was a rundown shack by the corner of the road. You walk in to find the room bulging with sarees and ironed clothes. He worked his magic on my sarees and we have been loyal customers ever since.

When I changed jobs and the place got too far for me to go to. Dad got assigned the task to deliver and collect our sarees. A friendship blossomed between both sides and the occasional times I would go there, the uncle would tell me stories and wonder where dad was.

A week before my dad passed away, he had gone to place a few sarees for dry cleaning since my parents had just gotten back from India and Navarathri had just ended. That and the uncle was all forgotten in the events that followed.

Sometime later we remembered that our sarees were there and were due to be picked. Only then did we realize that we hadn’t told the uncle about dad’s demise. I spent a good half of 2004 gently telling people that dad was no more. It had to be gently done as, the reaction were always same, disbelief.

I finally went to see the uncle and he asks

How are you ma?

Appaveh pahkurathe illeh?
Haven’t seen your dad in a while.

I slowly told him the news. The uncle who had been looking for our sarees was so stunned he had to sit down. It took him a while before he could actually speak again.

It took all the courage in me to not break down as the uncle reminisced about dad.

That was the second last time I went there. I stopped going as the uncle would get sad everytime he saw me. So we got different people to send our sarees for us.

Anyway I was reminded of why I stopped going to see the uncle after the person who delivered the costumes came back amazed with the value of my name.

I was telling the same story to a friend on Wednesday afternoon as I decided it was about time I went back to see the uncle and capture the uniqueness of the place. I have wanted to photograph the place forever.

That evening I find out one of the uncles (the elder brother) had passed away on Wednesday afternoon in India. As you can imagine I was just stunned. While I was relieved it wasn’t the younger uncle, I’m still shocked by the coincidence and the lost.

May his soul rest in peace.

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