As the final part of my project to augment my formal wardrobe – the previous ones being measurements and fabric selections, and the classic grey suit – I decided to go for something a bit different and, with western fashion in mind, contemporary: a Chinese suit, also called a mandarin suit. No, not like the citrus fruit, those are for Halloween – and I don’t think they come in jet black like this one does.
As far as the style goes, it’s much simpler than the western suits; the jacket, also known as a Bangala, is closed all the way up to the upright mandarin collar, and should stay that way while you wear it. You don’t unbutton it when sitting down, like you would with a classic one.
Underneath is a shirt with a mandarin collar – ties or other accessories are not used. There is a breast pocket where you can put a neatly folded handkerchief, but the main principle is that the entirety should be kept simple and elegant.
That’s why the texture of the fabric is important, since it has a slightly more important role than in the classic suit. For this one I opted for a lightly striped pattern, which from afar looks like a uniform texture but up-close has a more detailed motif. Going for a plain fabric could result in an overly simplistic and borderline boring look.
The suit is surprisingly comfortable and the fact that you don’t wear a tie is a big bonus. It might make me look like a Bond -villain, but I’m looking forward to donning this the next time I’m supposed to wear a dark suit.
Big thanks to Raymond’s in Phoenix Mall at Pune, especially to the master tailor. If you decide to drop by, listen to his advices and remember to address him by his title – he’s earned it.
A few weeks later they called me and asked me to come down to the store; it was ready.
It’s an exciting moment when they bring out the suit. I was a bit anxious about whether the fabric I selected – based on that small swatch – would match that inner vision I had. But as they opened up the carry bag it all went away – it looked really good. The texture and slight shine of polyester worked just as well as I had hoped.
The fit is as good as a made by measure suit should be. The pants and vest sit perfectly, and after a tiny adjustment of the shoulder padding even the jacket was exactly as I wanted it. The shirts – one white and one textured light blue – were also tailored so they hug the body without constricting. Finally a shirt with long enough sleeves and a collar that doesn’t feel like it’s trying to slowly strangle you! The cuffs – French one-buttons – are embroidered with a monogram, next to which I added a pair of cufflinks by Arrow.
I needed a pair of good shoes to go with this, and opted for a pair of brown ones by Aldo.
Now I just need to get myself invited to formal occasions where I can flaunt this shamelessly.
I was so happy with the results I decided to order another suit – this time a black mandarin one!
I’ve been doing Mysore Ashtanga yoga for some years now, and one of the things I was looking forward to when moving here was to get some serious in-depth lessons, straight from the source. Think Miyagi-san in Karate Kid, the whole trimming the Bonsai tree and doing some “wax on, wax off”, inner enlightenment thing.
But no. This might come as a surprise, but yoga is not a big thing here. It’s not a national sport – that would be cricket – or even a common hobby.
In Helsinki I would see people carrying yoga mats quite often. The gyms would be crowded to the point of every class being a hot yoga class. And that’s good, people taking care of themselves is a very positive thing.
But here the only time I’ve seen anyone, ever, carry a yoga mat has been by some foreigners down in Goa or Kerala. In Varanasi, the birthplace of sun salutations, the only people doing them in the light of the rising sun were westerners.
So that’s one myth busted.
Oh well, at least the Chinese still do Tai-Chi every morning. Right?
Yesterday’s bull session left me feeling like I had a few cobwebs in my head this morning, so I decided that I needed to get out and do something. Pashan is a small town on the outskirts of Pune, a bit South from Baner. I’ve been there once before, and have since then wanted to explore it a bit more. Today was as good a day as any, so I grabbed my camera and a bottle of water and headed out.
If you look at the map, you’ll notice that this little rural town has some interesting, off-limits areas, such as: a Military Area, a Defense Research and Development Organization and, my favourite, the High Energy Materials Research Laboratory. Which sounds like a place waiting for a catastrophic experiment failure, resulting in a rift in space-time by creating an inter-dimensional black hole and thus irreversibly changing life as we know it. This has, to the best of my knowledge, however not yet happened.
Anyways. Pashan has some nice small market streets and alleys. Not that different from other parts of the Pune perimeter, but nice nonetheless. Good place to bike to when you need to move around a bit and happen to have your camera with you.
After dropping off the equipment from our photoshoot, Sidd and me stopped by the Starbucks in Koreagon Park. Feeling like getting some change from the usual m-a-r, k-u-s spelling routine I decided to use the Indian name given to me by my local colleagues: Mahesh.
As the guy behind the counter started marking the cup and I gave my name, he didn’t skip a beat even though I’m without a doubt no Mahesh. We sat down and waited, and soon enough they yelled out: one tall hazelnut latte for Mahesh!
Guess I’m starting to blend in.
Mahesh is a very common name in India, which became apparent five minutes later as another completed order for a Mahesh was announced. I scanned for someone with equally non-blending complexion as mine, but this one was a bonafide local.