Sunday, 1 August 2010

Unconventional Body-shape

If you live in London you feel pressurised to buy lots of clothes, controlled as you are by the changing winds of annual fashion. I feel it especially, having been brought up in an environment where it was very normal to buy clothes a few sizes too big: boys grow after all. In Calcutta, boys grow up to be men and feel the need, without exception, to buy size 42 shirts, even when they've stopped growing. And this in a people who seldom grow more that 5 ft 6. A couple of years back I went and bought myself two one-colour Italian big knot ties - but by the time I got comfortable wearing them, harsh diagonal stripes were back in, and when I got used to wearing them .... If you approach Bond St with a Foriapukur mindset you'll forever be playing catch up! But then men in London are man enough to wear 38. It is in London that I first came across grown men openly discussing man-boobs. (Common in Calcutta of course, but never discussed, always hidden behind size 42 shirts).

Its my blog, I told my darling wife, as she read the paragraph above. I will write what I feel like. But I also undertake that I will write of myself, not of generalisations and truisms. So on to my personal predicament: I have an obsession with semi-formal jackets. I must have about a dozen of them; none of them fit! Since this note is about shoe-horning Bengalis into today's England I can tell you why they don't fit: its my unconventional body shape. I have a slight deviation from plan just above the belt which makes me a chop-and-weld job that went slightly off. In Calcutta the decision would have been made for me by the friendly panjabi seller of Kingbodonti (size 42), in London I make my own choice -- I have size 38 shoulders, to hell with the rest. I have now discovered what it means to say I have a jacket for every mood: am I feeling confident to be a 38 today, or do I feel the need to hide in a 40. As a risk manager I must diversify, and because I am a moody man my latest two purchases are size forties.


  1. And you forgot to mention that you have also developed the critical illness of compulsive hoarding.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Just returned from Kolkata with a glut of gifted shirts - some size 42. I'm thinking of wearing them with a t-shirt underneath or maybe saving them for the Madison winter when people can't see much more than the collar anyway.

    BTW, do not let Europeans tell you that the bulge above the belt is a deviation from plan. That _is_ the plan in India. I remember trying to avail the buy-one-get-one-free offer of some new brand of jeans, back when we were in college. I was surprised to find that if the legs fit, the waist was too large and by the time the waist was the right size the legs were coming apart at the seams. The tailor chacha type gentleman who was helping me pointed out that I lacked enough volume around the middle - "thoda khaa-peeke tandrust hona padega." Either that or full price jeans!

  4. oh c'mon boys...its just your waist and legs....thinks about how much more we have to worry about...the bum, the tum and a whole lot more!

  5. As you must have noticed, I have encountered the same problem over the years. To be very honest, I needed a shirt that would have been 42 at the shoulders and 44 at the waist; and trousers tapered towards the bottom.

    In other words, I needed apparel that would fit a rhombus.