A little bit of naphthalene and nostalgia

In a dark forgotten corner of your wardrobe, wrapped in the scent of naphthalene and nostalgia, you might have that one item of clothing that's too tight now, too old and too frayed. Something that you'll probably never wear again. But it's hard to part with that dress, those jeans or that jacket from long, long, ago. In fact, the thought of discarding it almost feels like throwing away a significant piece of your past. For our latest piece, Soup asked a few people about that one special piece of clothing in their wardrobe that they've never had the heart to throw away.

Photographed by Indrajeet Rajkhowa.

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Aqui Thami, Artist 

Aqui's Purple Baku

This baku is a hand-me-down, I got it from my sister when she was finishing school. We grew up together but are really very different, she never had something in her closet that I wanted but this baku was an exception. 

When was the last time I wore it? A few days back to the university. But with the tensions back home I feel like wearing it more often these days.
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The baku is a part of my cultural legacy and keeps reminding me of who I am and where I come from.

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The past always feels like a special time, I think we all tend to romanticise our past. But wearing this baku always makes me feel nice and special. It feels like home.

 
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Satish Sethumadhavan, Group Creative Director at MullenLowe Lintas Group

a dapper dad's tailored blue jacket

This jacket must have crossed the 50-year mark. My dad had got it stitched somewhere in the mid sixties on the insistence of his dear friend Mr. James. He had two reasons to convince my dad, the weather in Ooty deserved a jacket and secondly a man can only look better in it. So they went to Variety Hall in Coonoor (the shop still exists), a place that sells ‘suiting and shirting’, bought the material and got it stitched by Mr. Gopalan. For me, this jacket comes from an era when I wasn’t even a thought. That intrigues me and that makes it special. Surprisingly though I have never worn it, I wonder why? But I am pretty sure I’ll wear it one day. 

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I do find myself attached to things but never have I made an effort to sustain it. There are a few things that have a special place in my memory (something that I am very bad with), over a period of time these things get forgotten or I detach myself from it. For me the act of being attached to something precedes the subject itself.

 Will I throw it away? No. Will I give it away? Maybe. 

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Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, Soho Square

Buddha's pre-enlightenment Dhoti

I’ve always been a hoarder. But when I moved into a new flat two years ago with much less storage space – I realised I had accumulated lots of things I don’t need and won’t ever use. So, for months on end, I set aside time every weekend to go through my stuff and see what I could give or throw away. Sometimes I would give myself a number – such as ten things that I had to put in a bag to give away. It was tough initially, but eventually this decluttering was liberating. However, there are still things like this dhoti, to which I am so attached, I couldn’t possibly discard them.

 I was on board a flight headed towards the United States. It turned back half way because of the infamous World Trade Centre attacks. Ironically, I was on my way to perform in the title role of a play called The Life of Gautama Buddha. In the first part of the play I am Prince Siddhartha, who later attains enlightenment and becomes the Buddha.  As the prince, I wore rich garments and jewellery. One of the items was this silk sari converted to a pre-stitched dhoti.

We eventually managed to travel to the US a year later. This was the biggest and most challenging role I had ever played on stage. And I performed it all over the US, India and Singapore. The kind of emotional audience response we got meant a lot to me. A lady who watched it in New York wrote an email saying, “I’m not a Buddhist but it made me wish I were.”

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The dhoti is 17 years old and I last wore it 15 years ago. Initially, I kept it because I thought we might perform the play again. But I knew soon enough that the play had been wound up. Yet I could not bring myself to part with it. I can’t imagine wearing it in ‘real life’, so it’s there purely as a memory of a significant moment in my life.

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Poorva Shingre, Graphic Designer, Illustrator

A yellow tee, freckled with paint and memories

This tee is from a time when I was at the peak of my creativity maybe, I genuinely believed that anything was possible and I wasn't afraid of anything, except the dentist. And butterflies. 

At one point in my life all the good times or the significant times I had were in this tee shirt. I used to work in it, so it’s covered in paint stains, I even cut off the sleeves and it was almost cathartic because I was trying to metaphorically cut out a certain problem in my life. So yes, I’ll never throw this away, in fact if anything I want to start wearing it again.
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Tanya Sharma, Designer

An old jacket and a forever romance 

I found the fabric for this jacket in Jaipur and it was the first piece I made with traditional fabric and with it began my enduring love for ethnic fabric and embroidery. I have never stopped wearing it, in fact I just wore it last week.

I will continue to wear it until it falls apart.
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The jacket was from a young, free spirited and creatively excited time in my life. And yes, maybe with the jacket I am holding on to a piece of my past.

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Namita Gautham, Blogger and her mother, Anjan Gautham

Old Army pants and a patterned kaftan

Namita Gautham:

I can never throw away my dad’s Army uniform trousers, ever since I've found it I've wanted to wear it. I’ve whacked clothes from my mum but this was the first time I could borrow and never give back something of my father’s.

These pants are special to me because they remind me of my roots and my culture, which all goes back to the Indian Army. I haven’t known any other culture as much as this one and while others might hold onto a Kanjeevaram saree or a Pashmina shawl, this item of clothing is the only thing that connects me to my roots. So it isn’t as much about my past as it is about my identity.
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My childhood growing up in the cantonment were my best days. I learned almost everything there and that part of my life will always be the most important factor in forming my personality. What they say about defence kids and their families, that they are faujis first and then everything else, holds very true for me.

Anjan Gautham:

We had this unique custom where on my husband's birthday I would be gifted a new outfit by my family. Being pampered on someone else's birthday was something quite special. That is how I received this kaftan. My sister gave it to me and she bought it from Srinagar.

I am sentimental and I do get attached to things to preserve memories and cherish them and that’s why I have held on to this kaftan. I look forward to wearing it on special occasions because the memory of this outfit is so special to me.
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