My Puttoo Coat
NOSTALGIA BY Z.G. M
Ours was an austere childhood; very simple, but full of fun and frolic. Austerity, I believe had more to do with limited means than with religiosity. I vividly remember my childhood dress. During summers it was white cotton - ‘laathe’ Kameez and Pyjama or Kameez and Shalwar. During winters we wore Kameez and ko’tana, trousers that narrowed down towards the bottom, and pherans; all made of soft woolen fabric, flannel.
I don’t exactly remember the year when we bade adieu to the coarse cotton and flannel dresses and started wearing a bit more expensive, colored cotton poplin and cashmere tweeds during winters. Bu I do remember the thrill on learning about my father on the eve of Eid having bought a tahan of Dhaka-Malmal for making our clothes - these were perhaps first and last clothes of malmal that I wore.
Our school uniform was cotton sky blue shirts and Khaki shorts, later pantaloons. Dressed in starched uniform and clicking my black ‘ford shoes’ with small school bag slinging from my shoulder every morning, I would strut like rooster throgh a maze of lanes to my school. But no sooner I reached the school gate I often lost my rhythm. On seeing lean bony cheeked headmaster Ghulam Ahmed Zargar waiving a stick and checking uniform every student. But, I do remember a good number of boys could not afford to buy even a pair of these cotton uniforms. Many of them for the fear of headmaster would not enter the school at morning assembly till they would get a pair from school out of the ‘poor fund’- a fund raised by school out of donations from students. I don’t remember there was an elaborate winter uniform prescribed in my alma mater as that in the C M S Biscoe School. The Biscoe boys in their grey woolen paints and jackets, that they called ‘battle dress’ looked smarter.
They made us envious. Most of the boys in our school during winters used to come in pheran - which they would take off either at the gate of the school or on entering into the class. Some boys from affluent families would come to school draped in puttoo, homespun woolen full buttoned coats - know in modern India as Nehru jacket. It was the happiest day for me, when my father got a camel colored putto coat stitched for me. This homespun Kashmiri woolen despite not being that soft had won lot of admiration from European visitors for its warmth.
On my way to school, I remember watching puttoo being manufactured in a shop near one of the gates of the Jamia Masjid. I don’t know who owned the puttoo manufacturing units, known as wanns, but I do remember the men who toiled hard inside these units. We knew them as Dards and they were part of cultural landscape of the city. Dards were fair complexioned, robust and had rubicund cheeks. This hardy race from Gurez valley; land of delicious raspberries and currants, had earned a place of respectability for their honesty and hard work in our part of the city.
Puttoo was made out of finely woven old woolen blankets known in local parlance as chadar. These old blankets were pounded in a sink filled with water for hours together in the work place called as Mandangar Wann. It used to have four to five sinks and a wooden railing. While pounding they sang in chorus folk songs in shena language. After hours of pounding and making it thicker and softer, the woolen cloth was put in sun for drying. Then it would be rolled tightly around splits of two and half long pole. To remove any wrinkles from puttoo wooden pegs were inserted between the splits.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 6 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 6 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 7 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST
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