Blue and red – checks and charm

Day three of diving into colour…

When I chose the uniform colours for our little school, I looked for a material that was simple, bright, affordable for poor parents and a little bit traditional. Most uniforms here are simply dull, grey, white, brown or black. I designed a simple pinafore with a pocket for girls and long pants for the boys over a red or blue T shirt. The girls also wear black leggings. We have found a local tailor who measures students on their first school visit and then makes their uniforms for a minimal cost.

In the early days our students were sometimes laughed at for wearing a uniform that didn’t look like ‘uniform’. Change can so often cause controversy. Nowadays there are a couple of other local schools that wear uniforms made with a similar checked material.

For almost the past two years, our students haven’t come to school in uniform. That’s how long primary schools have been closed. How does a child study with no access to the internet and poor network connections? Fortunately our wonderful teachers have found ways around the situation, including phoning students, handing work to parents in the market place, going to their houses with school supplies and gathering a small group of kids on the front doorstep.

Towards the middle of last year, students were able to come into school under the guise of ‘doing tuition’, wearing their everyday clothes and arriving at differing times. We have less than sixty students, so they were able to manage being ‘undercover’.

Finally in January, we were officially able to open for a new school year. Students came in their uniforms, they can play sport outside again and enjoy art lessons.

I especially love this photo because her jacket is buttoned up wrongly!

Of course, I’m not there in person at the moment and haven’t been for almost two years. Hopefully it’ll be possible later in the year. India still hasn’t opened to international commercial flights after almost two years.

These blue and red checks fill me with cheer, even though as you’ll notice, it’s almost impossible to find a matching roll of material two years in a row! This used to cause me constant frustration whenever we drove to the capital to buy another roll. “Please could you order me another with exactly the same pattern?”

“Yes, ma’am, no problem at all,” as he snips off a small sample with his giant scissors.

A few weeks later over the phone, “Has the new material you ordered for me arrived yet?”

“So sorry ma’am, it’s no longer available.”

“Could you please order me one exactly the same for next year, as you have a batch number stamped onto the cardboard roll?”

No matter whether the response was positive or negative, when I went in the following year with my blue and red checked scrap of material, I would be greeted with a totally blank look. Over the past twelve years, I have visited every material shop in town with similar results!

The picture above of last week’s class badge winners clearly shows how many combinations of checks you can create out of blue and red with some white thrown in! It doesn’t really matter, everyone is just happy to be back at school.


6 thoughts on “Blue and red – checks and charm

  1. Oh my gosh, I *love* this piece. Your writing is just lovely. The colorful uniforms are delightful, as are the details behind how they came to be. And the pictures!! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. >everyone is just happy to be back at school.<

    The struggle is real! I love this slice because it shows that we all have been struggling over the last couple of years, but in so many different ways!

    A couple of questions: You said you weren't there. Where are you right now? Is there anything that we slicers could do to find fabric you could use? Just a thought, this is a tremendous community that could rally around something like this! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing!


  3. Hi Darin, I’m in Australia, so not in the US…! Thank you for your offer to find fabric, but I think for now it’s cheapest to source in India itself. This kind of check is quite common and traditional throughout the state (Meghalaya) and costs less than the equivalent of a couple of dollars per metre which is usually enough for one student. The frustration is the lack of being able to order exactly the same fabric every time, but it doesn’t bother the students or their parents.
    Thanks much for your kind thoughts and words!


  4. What lovely pictures! I bet you miss those smiling faces so much. I bet it’s frustrating not being back to find the same material year after year. That’s such a south Asian problem, isn’t it? I hope you can get back there soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for reading! Yes, we hope so too and yes, it’s definitely a south Asian problem! I do get to see their smiling faces on zoom every week, but there are now some faces I haven’t met ‘in the flesh’!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s