“Why is it that people who are honest, hard-working, principled and god fearing do not seem to thrive? Why is it that material success goes to those who concentrate not on turning out quality products, but on the light and sound shows that make others think, for a brief while, that a good job is being done? Is it a sign of our times that standards keep falling and the packaging has become more important than the product?” – Ravi Menon
I stared in disbelief and anger at the seams that had given way on my new trousers. Barely six-months-old, tailored and sold in an air-conditioned showroom by gentlemen who, by their clothes and demeanour, would not have been out-of-place in a five-star hotel. They had the manner common to all salesmen in showrooms selling upmarket luxury goods. They managed to be deferential and supercilious at the same time. I took it back to the showroom where I was received without emotion, informed that it would take a month. They would be in touch on the phone.
When I reached home I took out an old pair of trousers. I had worn them for 10 years before I had to accept that I couldn’t get into them anymore. Twenty-years-old, but every stitch, every button was in place. The dedication of the tailor in every seam. My mind went back 20 years to the tailor.
He lived on the first floor of a building on a crowded street in a leading metropolis. His drawing room doubled as his work place. When you rang the door bell and you would be greeted with quiet courtesy. He would, of course, attend to you personally. Your measurements would be carefully entered against your name in a big register. A piece of the material would be precisely clipped and pinned against your name in the book. A date would be given to you for a trial. The first of many. He would not give you the trousers before he was satisfied.
He was from a family of tailors and cutters and took great pride in his profession. He was full of advice on how clothes should be worn, how they should be cared for and the evolution of styles. He never pressed you to order something you didn’t really need. Clearly he loved the job he was doing.
Yet, he was never successful. His cousins and relations in the city who were also in the same line ran huge showrooms, had large numbers of employees and did roaring business. This luck seemed to have given him a miss. He was scrupulous in his transactions, meticulous in his work and was stringent in the practice of his religion. Still, success seemed to avoid him.
Why is it that people who are honest, hard-working, principled and god fearing do not seem to thrive? Why is it that material success goes to those who concentrate not on turning out quality products, but on the light and sound shows that make others think, for a brief while, that a good job is being done? Is it a sign of our times that standards keep falling and the packaging has become more important than the product?
We have come to accept that my tailor is part of a vanishing breed along with the family doctor, the carpenter who takes pride in his work or the school teacher who would lose sleep if her pupils did not learn.
Civilisations, nations and institutions rise and fall depending on the values they cherish. Values live and die with individuals. Today we face what can only be described as a crisis of values. We tend to forget that a crisis of values is not something we can solve by flying to Mars. – The New Indian Express, 18 October 2012
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