Passing by the closed leather tannery in Calcutta, my heart sinks for the closed factories and the character of the distinctly Chinese settlement of Tangra on my way to the airport. I could feel the memory of the odour of leather permeating my senses & into my nostrils. The odour of the past when I lived in Calcutta. I saw buildings close to each other and large sheets of weathered leather being tanned. I often thought what would become of the finished leather. Would India ever be able to compete with the international standard of coveted world-class products. I know India has all the raw material but the lacks the endorsements it requires to create a product that the world would desire to pay the price it deserves.
Nostalgia is my companion, it keeps me warm on days I feel I the cold around my soul like a companion you nurture over the years. This transaction that life has to offer in our companionships, was always my gnawing thought of how life happens and your concept of relationships change over time. I realised that some inanimate things remain our companions forever. I love the Spanish term Kompanero which is a companion. So when I look back at the friendships I lost, my things that didn’t stay the same. A thought occurred to me about how some daily accessories are like a comfort pill in our lives. I never leave home without saying bye to my dog and my handbag. This is my kompanero. It holds my hidden notes of the fragility of my relationships. My lipstick, my book, my money and my other knick-knacks for the day.
My head is filled with so many jumbled up memories of the city I left years back. I suddenly realised I had time before catching my flight and sit in the Calcutta airport to catch my connecting flight back home. As I passed the stores and men sitting and sipping beer with a familiar bonhomie. My eyes were hooked to a store inside the cacophony of aeroplanes taking off and landing.
I saw the term Kompanero written in bold on a store. I was automatically moving towards the entrance to be greeted by a gentle Bengali salesman. He didn’t push to buy and I was relieved. I searched every rack and loved them all.
Suddenly there was this brand of bags in India, it was international in its style and extremely good quality leather. I had found my eyes blazing on every rack. The salesman told me that they have 50,000 sq ft of space in Calcutta, where they produce these bags. The local craftsman is being employed to sustain this culture in Bengal. It is intricate the work. The leather has a distinct distressed look and is created to perfection.
I sighed as I held one of the absolute gorgeous craftsmanship in my hand and felt the softness of the leather and its subtle branding that wasn’t shouting out loud but was absolutely done to perfection. I didn’t want to check the price tag and was pleasantly surprised at the cost. It was competitive without being too pricey. I pulled out my card, did the payment and was proud to have my Kompanero on my shoulder. I didn’t pack it in its cloth bag but emptied out the contents from my bag into my Kompanero.
It gets attention every time I carry it around. The fashionable lunching ladies ask me which international brand is this bag? While feeling the leather and discreetly trying to read the brand.
I smile and tell them. It’s my companion and it’s called Kompanero. It started in Bangalore and now is found all over Europe and in UK too. And yes it is made in India.
Look no further, you have so many brands in India with the excellence a connoisseur would search in their wine or cheese. Kompanero is superbly stylish and crafted to perfection. Your bag is your secret holder. Stuff in your ego inside your bag and carry it over your shoulder or across your tummy. It will always add and not reduce. I love it with all my heart and soul, my Kompanero, my companion forever.