Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Five-and-a-half Hands Of Trouble.

They come in all colours and combinations. They can make you look like the belle of the ball. They can be made to look traditional, or rather sexy. They do not need seams and buttons and strings. You just have to hold it and go round and round and drape it. They can be worn on any occasion... be it the puja celebrations or the filmfare awards. They have made the whole world go gaga over Susmita Sen and Kajol. It is the Indian woman's answer to the West for minis and micro-minis and nano-minis ....the symbol of unparalled style and oomph!

For me, it is all of these, and a little more. I'll place it in the same pedestal as reptiles, physics, and cookery..... bugaboos.... things I've always been scared of. In my 24 years of existence, I can barely remember seven occasions in which I've actually had the nerve to wear a saree, the last time being the 5th of September, the day we were formally kicked out of the department (the departmental farewell). And the feel of it was as scary as it had been on the day of my tenth grade farewell when I'd put on another saree.

Well, this time I wouldn't have, had it not been the dress code of the day. I don't own a single saree in my wardrobe, let alone the other things that go with it. Mom was kind enough to lend me her green South Indian Silk that dad had got her from Chennai. Sister was good enough to let me wear her jewelry. Dressing up started 3 hours before I was to leave for college. It took me 3 pairs of hands and 2 hours of "standing like a statue" and "turning around and around" in front of the mirror to finally make the saree look decent enough on me. At the end of these 2 hours, I was all a bunch of nerves, and a bunch of safety pins precariously hidden in a hundred different places so that the saree firmly remained where it was.... on me.

And then, there was this volley of instructions from mom...

Do not walk fast like you always do.

Make sure that the aanchal doesn't come off.

Do not spill food on the saree (as if I would purposefully do it).

Do not get on crowded buses.

And do not take the cab. Single woman and all that (as if the cab driver was jobless enough to kidnap me at 10 am on a crowded street in Calcutta, just because I am wearing a sari).

Keep the jewelry in your hand bag and wear them once you reach the department (as if they were made of real diamonds).

Do not dance, or even tap your feet to any music.

Make sure that the aanchal doesn't touch the ground while you walk.

Give us a phone call once you reach college so that we know you have reached safely.

See that you avoid potholes and waterlogged streets.

Make sure that you give it to the dry cleaner once when you are done.

Surely she was more worried about the saree, a wedding anniversary gift, than me in a saree. She didn't think of what if I stumbled and fell down and hurt my shins or broke my bones. As long as the saree did not have to bear the brunt of my gustatory exploits or carrying myself carelessly on the roads, nothing mattered to her. Wish I had a husband to gift me expensive sarees and then I could have had the satisfaction of giving her the same instructions while I let her wear one of mine.

I and my saree, both reached safely to college. The saree stuck to me all day like a faithful puppy. I tried hard, but didn't spill biryani or ice cream. I took a bus and then a metro, but nobody stamped on it. And cab drivers didn't even bother to look at me at the bus stop, let alone kidnap me. The only cause of my angst was that I couldn't sit with my legs danging on the chairs like I usually do when the professor is not around. I could not play "catch me if you can" and "lock and key" in the classrooms. I could not get up on the desks and jump from them. I could not run my way up the stairs to the 4th floor, taking two steps at a time. I felt so hot and suffocated and clumsy, and I had to make sure that my lip gloss and hair was okay every 10 minutes. By the end of the day, all I wanted to do was to get into my old pair of shorts and tee shirt and jump off the bed and sofa.

I wonder what good does it do to keep dress codes like this. Why weren't the guys made to wear a dhoti? At least I wouldn't have to wear a sari for the next few years, and that's a relief. Perhaps I am a disgrace to the "Bharatiya Nari" concept after all.



Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Whew!! That was some post... I never knew that girls were so uncomfortable in a saree... I guess it is more of a matter of practice than anything else --- being used to it, that is. My sisters at home ususally plan for a couple of weeks in advance about what they are going to wear on the D-Day :)

BTW, your husband-to-be (assming he reads these posts sometime) is sure in for a treat of his life :)

coolnishad said...

i think u can do court marriage and avoid all the saree hassles
or u can marry on an exotic island on a two piece like the carribean way
i agree with sudpta u r husband is in for a royal treat:)

Kapil said...

Ok...You obviously know that you are a good writer...
There is however,just two things that really irk me abt your writings...
One: U just make 2 much of an effort 2 use d BIG words.It becomes painfully obvious.U dont really hav to use all d 3k words that u learnt up in ur GRE prep!
& 2nd: U seem to hav not come across d word "brevity" at all..
But, & its a big BUT(pun intended!); your blogs r still immensely enjoyable!!

P.S: I came across this other blog: . The author has offered to help any1 with their Blog's templates etc. Maybe u cud ask her help to spruce up ur blog...U know just a li'l sprinkling here & there..

sunshine said...

sudipta....The truth is that I am one of the laziest people as far as dressing up and applying make up is concerned. So you will never find me planning what to wear. All I do is dig into my cupboard, take out some old tattered jeans, brush my hair, and there I am. READY ! So that way my hubby will get another treat for the rest of his life.... He will not have to invest on buying expensive clothes and jewellery for me.

Nishad.... Lemme tell you a hardcore truth. Be it marriage the usual way or the court marriage way or the Carribean way..... every Indian man wants to see his wife in a sari. And you know it.

kapil....Surely I do not know the meaning of brevity. And the big words I use is just the hangover of GRE. It'll surely pass away with time. Thanx for the link.

Ashish Gupta said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ashish Gupta said...

I always felt something like this while mumma always asked me to straighten out plaits in her 'heavy' saaris.

Whereas 'she' has never tried a saari in her 22 years of existence #-o Duffer :P I promised her we are gonna go to court where she can put on her chudidaar :) but then I gotta get to keep my jeans too >:) *smirk*