Article in brief: The author reflects on his grandmother’s sewing machine and what it meant for the previous generations.
I have always been fascinated with traditional buildings and historical findings. At one point I wanted to become an archeologist and work in uncovering the mysteries of the past. As I grew up I have decided to turn archeology into a hobby and pursue a different career path.
However, my passion for history still makes me stop in-front of old items I come across on the streets or inside museums in order to have a better understanding about their history.
A few days ago, while visiting my uncle’s house, I noticed an old sewing machine covered with a wooden box. I couldn’t resist the temptation to uncover the machine and have a closer look. I slowly started removing the cover, and there it was: an old black sewing machine with golden lines across its body which my late grandmother used for many years as she was one of the few tailors in freej (neighborhood) Al-Ali in Ras Alkhaimah. Next to it, there was my grandma’s old scissors, which I remember were too heavy for my little hands to carry when I was young.
Seeing the sewing machine after such a long time brought back old memories of when I used to sit across her wondering how this machine works. I remembered the joy I had when I was able to get the thread into the stich slot while grandma failed to do so as she couldn’t see well any more.
Those memories were not enough, I wanted to go back in time. I wanted to hear the sound of this old sewing machine. So I switched on the power and pressed on the foot control. “bbbbrrrrrrrr” – the same sound like I used to hear before, but it isn’t as noisy anymore like the old days.
Unfortunately, no one is using the sewing machine anymore because it is easier to go to the local tailor or maybe buy a ready-made outfit. With my grandmother’s death, her sewing machine also stopped working.
Jobs like tailoring, carpentry and fishing were very popular in the good old days. However, they are no longer attractive to the UAE nationals. The young generation seems to prefer working in large corporations rather than being in the field. As a result, we see more expats in those fields and the numbers are increasing. The government needs to setup programs to encourage locals to take on industrial type jobs and reduce the dependency on expats.
Until that happens grandma’s sewing machine will be out of service.
Abdulla holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration. His abstract passion for history and literature with a hint of photography adds to his noble enduring quality. Abdulla enjoys visiting museums, art exhibitions and likes to spend his spare time in the outdoors. His column “Emirati Reflections” is a mixture of stories from the past and insights of the present, which blend together and formulate his understanding of the UAE’s culture.