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Shaping the ramp

Zulfiqar Pappu stands dwarfed by the ramp and the model. He isn't tempted to look up as he hammers in the nail to the beat of the stiletto.

Written by Alia Allana |
October 24, 2010 3:09:25 am

Carpenter Zulfiqar Pappu fashions the ramp but never gets to see it

Zulfiqar Pappu stands dwarfed by the ramp and the model. He isn’t tempted to look up as he hammers in the nail to the beat of the stiletto. But each model has her own speed,her own “chaal” and Zulfiqar has to ensure that the long-legged stays balanced. Zulfiqar,34,the carpenter working on the main ramp,has been given the duty of getting the catwalk primed and ready for the glitterati as they flock to the Wills Fashion Week in the city this weekend. Time for him is as precious a commodity as beauty is for the fashion industry. Yet seventeen hours of work aren’t enough. It has taken him five days of hammering,over a thousand nails to erect two 60×8 feet ramps,yet he has never seen the final product — the show. “We’re not VIPs,we’re VVIP,” he jokes.

Zulfiqar is privileged,he gets to see the pre-premier show — the rehearsals. But he has never seen the models polished to perfection. Rehearsals allow for imperfections and cracks. “Imagine,we stopped the work when the models asked us to. But on the day we open,like the models,we too can’t allow imperfections,” he says a day before the Fashion Week opened on Saturday.

In the backdrop,a red cotton cloth is being stapled to the walls,to hide the broken tiles. On the other side stands a tall board with masks fastened to it. A hundred people are employed to fuel the image that the industry promotes — perfection. “The first time I was involved in building the ramp,it seemed like nothing I had done before,but three-and-a-half years later,it’s just a job. And not much has changed — only the skirts have gotten shorter,” he jokes.

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But his friends in his home town,Bijnor,are “in awe”. “They think their daily chore of working the fields is monotonous and that I get to see Salman Khan and Aamir Khan.” His wife often gets annoyed with him for the long hours he keeps. Sometimes,the hours get to him and the other workers too. He recalls how,he once he found another ramp contractor asleep under the stilts of the catwalk. “He woke up after the show. No one knew he was there.”

Such is the fashion trade,the famous faces glide on top and the faceless sleep below.

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