Friday, October 1, 2010

The watchman and the fish

The watchman and the fish

Looking at your photo and at all those clothes being made and repaired by the tailor, I think of how skilled craftsmen/repairmen (and women) have provided services for so many generations. Now, they seem to be a dying breed, as more and more people buy clothes sold at malls (made in sweatshops around the world) or go to generic repair shops, where an anonymous seamstress or repairman sits behind a wall, separated from the customers. Such is the practice of creating distance between the producer and the consumer, resulting in lack of knowledge about these workers and their lives and conditions. The less we see, the less we empathize.

I'm told by an anthropologist that young people are now less inclined to learn from elder skilled workers and continue their traditions. I hope that's not the case. Personally, I like meeting and talking to those who make or repair my clothes, shoes, or watches. We should try to support their way of life and work -- bring our business to them and be informed consumers. We should break away from those faceless transactions and mode of consuming that mall culture perpetuates.


*A watch repairman originally from Jolo, Sulu with one of his fish on display, which he says can ward off bad luck.

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