Take a good look at the below photo.
On first impression, it looks like a photo of two of MBs shirts hanging on a door. But looks can be deceiving, as General Custer shouted to his troops when he realised there were far more Indians to deal with than he previously thought. In truth, said photo represents one of the greatest victories in the history of humankind. No kidding.
The related story involves the victory of a single Irishman over the country (almost a continent) of India. The incident in question took place in the city of Doha, Qatar in first week November 2015. The fact that the incredible victory did not make international headlines is solely due to the fact that the victorious Irishman is brimful of humility and compassion. He does not like to flaunt his victory in the faces of the vanquished.
The Irishman in question is well known to you all, for he is none other than your favorite blogger MB!
A month or two back MB got a notion to throw some business the way of a backstreet tailoring establishment quite close to his abode in Doha, Qatar. A deal was struck between MB and the tailor for just under USD 300 for a 3-piece suit of jacket, waistcoat and trousers. MB was measured upside down and inside out. The entire staff, who to a man hailed from the southern state of Kerla in their homeland, assured MB that all would be well.
And so it turned out to be. When almost complete, MB called in for a final fitting. Some minor adjustments were carried out and a few days later MB collected his suit. All good.
The tailor then suggested to MB that no hand-made suit is complete without a hand-made shirt or two to go with it. Some nice fabrics were unrolled for MBs inspection and after agreeing a price of USD 20 per piece MB ordered two shirts. The shirts were collected some days later and despite one or two small moans from MB, the shirts were, generally speaking, quite ok. So MB got talked into ordering two more. And that’s when the fun, and the international incident, started.
Having previously taken all MBs athletic measurements, and already having produced two shirts that fitted MB quite well, MB reasonably expected that two more shirts would be easy money for the tailor. Copy the previous cut, stitch it up, take MBs cash and hand over the shirts.
MB duly arrived at the shop, and despite not expecting any excitement, MB is in the Middle East for far too long not to expect the unexpected. He therefore took the two shirts into the cramped fitting room, as the Indian staff assured him that there was absolutely no need to do so, being exact copies of the previous order, and proceeded to try them on.
WTF shouted MB. These shirts seem to have been made for a mini MB. An MB about half the size of the MB who was at that moment struggling to close any of the buttons on either of the shirts. Following some brute force MB managed to close three or four buttons on one of them, but there was an imminent threat of button-pop, as MBs bulk (MB had previously, for many years, considered that he actually did not have any ‘bulk’) strained buttons and fabric, to or beyond, its limit. MBs shoulders were also putting enormous pressure on the shoulder section of not one, but both shirts. At that moment in time, MB thought to himself that he looked very like the Incredible Hulk, from that old TV series, just before his shirt rips apart and goes flying through the air.
MB departed the fitting room wearing one of the shirts which more resembled a tight fitting wetsuit than a hand-made shirt, or any shirt for that matter. “WTF” said MB to all the assembled Indians, and to the few Indian & Arab customers who happened to be in the shop at the time. The tailor didn’t bat an eyelid and his usual smile never left his face as he confidently approached MB. Grabbing the bottom edge of the shirt, the tailor gave a gentle pull in a downwards direction, as it such a maneuver would miraculously increase the shirt size by the required 75%. Failure. “Very sorry Sir for our mistake”, said the tailor to MB, “we will make new”. MB has had too many dealings with Indian rascals in his years in the Middle East and he knew full well that “we will make new” meant only if we absolutely must after trying every trick in the book to avoid doing so. So MB laid down the law even before the “we will make new” commenced. “My friend” said MB, “there is not enough surplus materials in the seems to restitch this shirt to make it fit. So please ensure that you do actually “make new”. “Of course Sir” replied the tailor to placate MB and get him out of the shop as quickly as possible, lest he lose all his paying customers who were listening intently to the whole encounter.
A few days later MB arrived back to collect the “we will make new”. MBs suspicions arose immediately he was handed the “make new”. They looked suspiciously like the “make old”. And so it turned out to be. A little restitching here and there, and some other applied tricks of the needle had failed to find the necessary 75%. Another large failure was the inevitable outcome. MB again emerged into the middle of the shop in his ‘Incredible Hulk’ outfit and launched into an Irish tirade against the entire Subcontinent. “Sorry Sir, Sorry Sir, Sorry Sir” said the apologetic tailor, in front of yet more open-eyed customers.
MB called in again on following week. This time, thankfully, there was no drama. The tailor actually did “make new” and handed MB two of the finest shirts that MB is ever likely to wear. MB did, of course, try them on before he departed. But all was well. MB paid the balance due on both shirts, accepted the many humble apologies of the tailor for all the drama of the previous visits. “No matter” said the victorious MB, “only the end result is important, and thank you for two great shirts”.
Both men smiled, happy in the knowledge that this particular passage of their lives would now move behind them and both could move on.