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   The most comforting thought about living in Bombay is that it will not get any colder than what it is today. Perhaps, and it is a big perhaps, a drop of another couple of degrees, but still what they call as shirt-sleeve weather. (June 1, 1995)

Bombay really has no winter. It has two seasons: monsoon and non-monsoon. And a long time back Bombay gave up the pretence of designating the end-of-the-year months as winter months. The Royal Western India Turf Club used to do it. The races conducted during November-December were Winter Races. They were followed by the Bombay Races, which included the five classics. And the rest of the season was Spring Races. Then came the Gymkhana Races, but they have nothing to do with the season.

Winter was also the time when the maharajas came over from their feudal states and stayed either in their Bombay houses or at the Taj. They wintered in Bombay, as the British summered in the hills of Simla. And their winter routine included races at Mahalaxmi on Saturdays (most of them owned and raced horses), mornings and evenings at the Willingdon Club, since even maharajas were not allowed at the British clubs, and fittings for suits at Laffans.

Laffans were a bit of an institution. They were gents tailors, very exclusive, and had their shop in Churchgate Street, now occupied by the Only Vimal showroom. Their up-country clients included maharajas and district collectors and judges. The shop kept the measurements of these clients, and whenever new stocks of materials arrived, they would snip off samples of these and send by post to their clients. The clients would then select the material and the suit would be tailored from the measurements that the shop had on its record. Once a year, when the clients came to Bombay, probably for the winter, they would visit the shop and get their measurements updated.

Mr. J.C. Jain was one of the Laffans clients, as he naturally would be. And, it is said, for some 50 years his measurements remained constant. Of course, you may ask, who wears suits in Bombay winter? A lot of people used to and the trend is returning. The Willingdon, for instance, required a suit in its dinning room. Now it only requires shoes. And when Eros cinema opened, it had considered the idea of dress regulations. The idea was dropped when the public objected, though this is what I have been told, I cannot vouch for it.

But I can state that the Rendezvous at the Taj required a suit; it used to keep spare jackets and ties for gentlemen who came improperly attired. I recall once having to wear one of the Rendezvous jackets. It smelt.

 
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