As I walked along the shopping street adjacent to my hotel in Hong Kong I was assailed by hawkers, all attempting to get me to go inside their shops to buy counterfeit Rolex watches, Gucci bags, and tailor’s services, I realized how much a white-haired Caucasian stands out in a crowd of primarily Chinese people. Did I have “American tourist” on a Post-It note on my forehead?
This is the Nathan Street Mansion, home to scores of small shops and home of my tailor, Khan Afsar and his colleague Abdul.
The first young man to thrust a tailor’s business card in my face was a fellow named Abdul Afsar, a native of Calcutta, who with his boss runs a small tailor’s shop on the third floor of a shopping center on Nathan Street in Kowloon. I took the bait.
In his shop, Abdul took my measurements for a new wool tuxedo, something I have wanted to buy for many years. I sing in various choruses throughout the year, and will be singing Handel’s Messiah in the Cuesta Master Chorale on the 23rd of this month (tickets are still available!). Thus, having a nice tuxedo is of real value to me. I have had two prior, one made of polyester that I bought from a catalog for performers, and it made me sweat profusely while I was in concerts. That was awful. The second I bought on the Internet, a moderately expensive wool suit from who-knows-where, but with an impressive Italian brand inside the collar. It was more confortable, but has never fit me well.
This is Abdul, assistant to Khan the Tailor. Abdul and I are now great friends.
This one will be made of real Cashmere wool, and it will fit me perfectly. I went in for my fitting this afternoon. The finished tux-opus will be ready for me tomorrow afternoon at Abdul’s shop. I am excited.
I learned that pretty much all the business suits sold in this neighborhood in Hong Kong come from one workshop, located in an adjacent building (called a “mansion” in local terminology) where seven workers cut and sew suits, shirts and trousers for white-haired Caucasian tourists who take the bait for the tailor shops along Nathan Street. I met one of those tailors today, a slender young man named Timmy who had me put on my suit (only one sleeve was there) while he put pins here and there, and smiled, and then took the unfinished suit and bolted out the door.
I’ll post a photo of myself in the suit when it’s finished.