I am a great fan of the sari. As a child I watched, fascinated as my mother or aunts draped, pleated, tucked and pinned away at theirs. Those days it was a pleasant pastime to drape a cloth over my shoulder like a pallu and keep patting it into place just like the pretty ladies of the house. This love turned sour during my college years as the sari was made compulsory by that esteemed institution. Enforcement can make one hate the pleasantest of things. If aerated drinks were made compulsory, we’d all insist on water. But I must thank my alma mater for teaching me to wear a sari to perfection within minutes.
The dresscode in our school offers ample liberty in the absence of one. Thankfully, teachers are a sensible lot and never turn up in beach or party wear. Through the years, users of the sari on a daily basis in the school dwindled to two – the principal and yours truly.
The grievances against the sari are many; the sheer difficulty in wearing it, the impossible mission of walking in one and the paraphernalia of matching clothing required, the lurking suspicion of loose ends and unintentionally revealed skin (deliberately uncovered skin needs to seen) are nothing compared to the task of keeping them starched and ironed . In spite of these horrors, I love donning saris, crisp cottons in summer and pure silk in winter. It is the concept of the blouse that I find encumbering (is there such a word?) It must have been an evil tailor who made that item of clothing a must, like The Joker releasing contaminated cosmetics in Gotham City.
Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to find that a book on saris is doing the rounds
I hope it will not meet the fate of Loose Cannon’s …er… sorry Shashi Tharoor’s take on the matter. The furore among the females that it aroused forced the poor man to offer an explanation. [ I wonder why Taroor does not join Bollywood as an actor. He looks pretty enough and it wouldn’t be hard to pack on some packs.] I sympathise with him though; most of what he says is misconstrued and he gets pounced upon. And like him, I feel it wouldn't be too much to do for the Indian woman to wear saris oftener.
During my trip to China, I wore salwars and was the only one in the entire population to do so. Of course, I did stand out like a sore thumb (thumb is actually quite a good comparison), but I got to be a minor celebrity, with the Chinese wanting to get photographed with me, feeling my plaited hair, aaahing at my nose stud and ooohing at my bindi. I wish I'd packed some saris.