The Weaver


Written by Ramesh Nair (1982)

1977 was probably a memorable year in many ways – the Janata Party swept to power in India, Morarji Desai declared urine therapy was good for you in more ways than others, Gawaskar and Vishwanath were the king’s of Indian cricket, the ‘Kissa Kursi Ka’ case embroiled Sanjay Gandhi, ‘The Rajan Case’ was a sensational event (he was a REC Calicut student who disappeared after the police got hold of him) and Yes – I joined Lovedale on February 13th.

The 1st week in school was important as one made important choices about the arts and chose between band, indian music, sculpture, art, carpentry, weaving etc (ABMDP) and considering my not so agile mind- I followed in the footsteps of my brother and chose weaving.

There were a few of us from 7B who took weaving – Muthu for sure but the others fail me right now. Muthu was a talented weaver who would have made the carpet weavers from Iran proud but in this case, the only thing that mattered to the honorable Mr Dhanagopal was the ability to keep the shuttle going back and forth between the warps. Nothing could have been more disappointing to him than dropping the shuttle on the floor while concentrating on using the foot treadles (1-2, 1-3, 2-4….) and the rhythmic pull on the handle that sent the shuttle like a guided missile but in this case creating a towel or a serviette and not destroying the target.

Alternately, one could be assigned to hold yarn placed between one’s outstretched arms while the thread was spun into balls of thread and then onto a spindle. The net result of this weaving exercise was the creation of serviettes, towels, and finally in 8th grade with the introduction of the punch card weaving machine – bed covers.

To be engrossed in one’s work year after year in that musty and damp room (we had to take our shoes off) might have seemed like a chore to us, but it was a man’s calling and he was Mr Dhanagopal. His day of glory was once a year during the exhibition that accompanied Founders – parents gladly bought their children’s products and ‘Dhana’ as he was fondly called, should have been proud that his products were useful to society.

Thank you for knocking me on my head when I dropped the shuttle, it hurt at that time but reminded me that with a little more effort even I could churn out towels and other useful products.

In Peace, Mr. Dhanagopal.



And from Lakshmanan Solayappan (1982)

Very well said Ramesh.

I was one of the weavers. My forte was first loom . I remember pressing the tredles. 1 3 2 4 , using left and right legs alternatively. This was a lot easier than the last – 8 th loom , which had a more complex pattern. I recall my target was to complete 1 towel every class of 80 min. I still have – pretty well preserved & unused – one of the towels which bore my name – and not like what Chari mentioned. The cost of each towel was a princely sum of Rs.7.50 . An important aspect was that there had to be a border with a different color , 1 bobbin away from either end. We had to be careful when we started every towel and almost at the end of each towel not to forget the border. I still recall the border had to be exactly 32 threads wide.

If my memory serves me right Muthu was in 7 th loom.

The jacquard loom was a new intro when we were in school and only a few were permitted to weave on it. You are correct, I wasn’t one of the privileged few. The speciality was it had a single tredle and one had to stand while weaving. This was in contrast to the other looms where one remained seated through out … Now guys don’t start comparing this to something else …. 🙂

Yes. I did curse Dhana in school , but realised later what it did to us.

He taught me the meaning of repeating the same task over and over again, which could be quite boring, to gain perfection. I recall solving multiple problems in accounting and math during my CA days!

A nice man indeed. Grateful to him and many of our other teachers!



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