Thursday, April 17, 2008

Towards perfection

The very first time I picked up an Arrow shirt, I had no idea what made a shirt good. Till then, we used to buy cloth and get it stitched at the friendly neighbourhood tailor. It seemed perfect, till a friend showed the differences. (These are not exhaustive, but if there are more, please leave a comment.)

The first difference is in the fabric itself. See the fabric at eye level. There will be no raised threads, none at all, even after a few washes. On the cheaper stuff, it will stand up on end like someone told the cloth a ghost story.

Then the stitching itself. Your shirt wont lose a button. Ever.

Then the way the threads on the inside are stitched. There are some different types of stitching.

The collar is another giveaway. No frayed edges. Ever.

Now see the way the pocket is attached. If it is a striped/dress shirt, the design across the pocket should be seamless with the actual shirt. Also the shoulder and the back and the sleeves - the stripes will join them in near perfection.

So, wash after wash, your shirt remains new. And, I of course, had no clue. It took my first job at a shirting company to get this understanding. Not sure why this was not discussed at our first management trainee meeting!

But in any case, many a time, we dont seek perfection because we do not know that a perfect situation exists. RAC in trains, extra travellers with a current ticket - please adjust, despite the fact that I paid for a berth in full, there are freeloaders. We in our simple minds accommodate such people - all in all, telling our brains that there is nothing that is perfect.

And then, the services that we received, throughout the 80s. The postal services, telephone services, roads - almost everything. Nothing, was ever perfect. And then of course, we had the conspiracy theory, the big foreign hand...

Now before you rush to think that I am talking of perfection (the acme, the paradigm of everything) in a philosophical sense like the perfect world, I am not. 

The perfection that I mean (and that is an imperfect definition in itself) is a simple "deliver what you promised". So if you promised to deliver a car, let it be a hassle free car. If it is a shirt, let it be a good durable shirt. If it is a wall, it better be straight. If we agree on a price, let that price be final - not the autorickshaw kind of price where one turn of the wheel could mean a ten rupees more. No hidden costs? Perhaps. 

Previous thoughts, here and here...


Kavi said...

Yes..perfettion can be as simple as keeping your word !

Well said !

Kavi said...

Perfection. That is !

Miti said...

I just read your previous thoughts on this too, and I am sure that every other person in our country is going to connect with what you said.

In Bombay, the first thing that comes to mind when one says "thoda adjust karo" is the local train travel. Even if the next person is practically standing on your toes, someone else's elbow is pushing your middle in, and a third person's bag poking your back, you dont protest. You push around a little, and bear it. Because as everyone says "This is the way it is" or "If you dont know how to travel by train, dont get on" and many others.

Of course no Railway official has ever promised comfortable travelling in Bombay (he would be laughed down). Nevertheless, one would expect a certain basic level. But then, these are Bombay trains, and one must "adjust".