x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

'Dubai is full of all kinds of people'

This much I know Shashappa Pujari, 48, is the head tailor at Whistle & Flute in Satwa, Dubai.

Shashi sees customers of all shapes and sizes in the Whistle & Flute tailors in Satwa, Dubai.
Shashi sees customers of all shapes and sizes in the Whistle & Flute tailors in Satwa, Dubai.

Shashappa Pujari, 48, is the head tailor at Whistle & Flute in Satwa, Dubai. Known to his customers as "Shashi", he is responsible for sprucing up a growing clientele from a host of nations. He has lived in Dubai for 16 years. I was born in Bangalore, in India. I came to Dubai to work. Somebody called me and asked me to come here to work, so I did. That was in 1992, but before that I started as a tailor in Bombay. That was maybe 30 years ago. And before that I started studying. I decided to become a tailor because my mother told me it was nice work. It didn't involve going outside too much, you could work inside. You get to meet lots of people when measuring and making suits, there are always people in the shop. Yes, it was my mother's advice and it was good advice.

I wake up and I'm ready for breakfast at 8.30 every morning. I'll eat anything - bread, parotha, and maybe some dosas. But I only eat a little bit, and no more. I'll have a cup of black tea. But in the morning it's not good to eat too much. I save that for dinner. By 9.00 I'm ready to open the shop and start work. Customers come, I show them the fabrics, they have fittings. At 1.00 we close, then we open up again at 4.00 until 8.00 in the evening. I take a long lunch break! I like to have a little bit of rest because this job involves lots of standing up.

I go home for lunch. I live in Satwa, so it's within walking distance of the shop. But when it's very hot in the summer, sometimes I'll take the car. We have nine people working here but you can't always see them. They are upstairs, working on the suits, shirts, dressing gowns, everything. We all come and go at the same time. I started my training in a tailor's shop in Bombay. I began at about the age of 28 or 29. First I learnt how to hand stitch, put buttons on, little things. Then, later, I began making suits. I worked my way up, up, up. It took me maybe 10 years to learn how to make a good suit. The people that work here have similar training. They are very skilled. That's why we have all kinds of customers. The name of our shop is Whistle & Flute, which is English slang for "suit". So we get a lot of English customers. The owner of the company is British. He's a very nice man. But we have people from Germany, France, America, Cyprus...

The average waist size for men is around 32-38 inches. But with some of our customers we go up to 60 or 65 inches. That's difficult. Look at these trousers. They're very big, but sometimes the men are not tall. They are round. We have people of every shape and size. A lot of the big men are from the UK. If they lose weight they can bring the suit back and we will adjust. If they get fatter... well we can only make the suit a little bit bigger. Then they will have to buy a new one.

My family are back in Bangalore. I have three children, two boys and one girl. They are studying. My wife is a housemaid in Bangalore. I get to see them at least once a year. Sometimes my wife will visit me in Dubai, but I always go home to Bangalore every year for one month. It's a good holiday. I don't remember how I met my wife, but my mother told me that we are related. I really like my work in Dubai. We get customers from all countries here. Dubai is full of all kinds of people who come to work, from India, Pakistan, UK, America. They all speak nicely to each other, they get on. It's very nice like that. I like Satwa, but I don't like the big five-star hotels. They are too expensive. Parking is a problem in the city, but Satwa is one of the better places. Here we have supermarkets, hospitals, restaurants. I have lived in Satwa since the beginning.

I am happy when there is not too much trouble and hassle. My children make me happy. After five or six years, I plan to go home and retire. I might have a small business in Bangalore - maybe as a tailor, maybe making cabinets - I am happy there. But nothing makes me unhappy. I am a Hindu. I believe in God, and heaven. But I don't know if I will go there, that's for somebody else to decide.