I stepped into the small shop in Mussoorie to get a bag I’d asked too much of stitched up. The man sat on the floor of the shop, which was not much larger than the strapping SUVs that wrangled their way down the narrow old streets. His wife sat in a chair, stitching by hand. He motioned me to sit on a low bench as his hands reached for black thread, and slipped it it into the spool of the hand-powered, well-oiled sewing machine. His hands moved with a precision born of decades of this motion — gossamer thread, eye of the needle, the smooth movement of cloth under the jabbing point, fingers safe, hand spinning the wheel. As he worked, I looked at the sign taped to the wall above him:
Someone belatedly caught the typo. Made a correction with pen. The tailor was done. He lifted a pair of golden-handled shears that could have cut through armor and with a delicate snip, finished the job. “Kitne?” I asked. “Das rupees,” he answered and I handed him the worn red note worth sixteen cents and gave my thanks to him and his wife and returned to the winding road that led uphill.