This was inspired by this.
Thinking of the sari brings back some amusing memories.
I always liked wearing the sari. I first wore one when I was 17 or so, inspired by a horde of older cousins who looked fabulous in the then-famous kotas and chiffons. Moreover, temple functions in my home town meant that you had to wear a sari, otherwise you surely invited scorn and some nasty comments from the maamis who ruled the neighbourhood. (it’s another fact that some of the maamis themselves have opted for the comfortable salwar kameezes these days!)
I entered college and wore saris on special occasions, on Onam, Kerala Day (November 1) farewell parties and association inaugurations. Deciding to wear a sari was an exercise in team spirit as well. Many weeks would be spent planning on the colour of the sari, shopping for accessories and getting together on D-Day to actually wear them. (If I had spent as much as time on my studies, I would have aced the batch!)
The reactions at college were mostly what we hoped for. After more than 200 days of being teased, we looked forward to the ‘no reaction’ stance from the guys on the days we wore a sari. I don’t know whether it was awe, but it certainly was a ‘newly developed’ respect that surfaced selectively on those days. During Onam, we used to have the pookalam (flower rangoli) competition and the guys would only be too eager to carry the mud and the flowers so that us, dainty-looking ladies in saris did not trip or fall down the stairs. A far cry from other days when we played cricket and were sent running after the ball while they lounged under the shade of the tree. Or worse still, we were made to pay the canteen bills. Or shudder, shudder, they scribbled their initials all over our notebooks. (Rajesh, do you remember that?)
My love for the sari continued into my teens and into adulthood. It peaked during the first 15 days or so after marriage when I ‘acted’ the demure wife and daughter-in-law and wore a sari every day. Needless to say, it had nothing to do with being demure and all that (who would believe I’d be shy!!!!) but just my love for the sari.
At the earlier workplace, wearing a sari would most take us back to college mode. We would plan and wear saris on Independence Day, Diwali and Onam. And those who didn’t wear a sari were sent home to come back in one! The reactions were amusing. There was silence… (You are in a sari… How can I make fun of you? For once, you look dignified!) And one colleague had the cheek to take a print-out of a group photograph (where we preened and preened) and caption it thus: “Housemaids on the loose!” I think it also emboldened the same person, accompanied by a bevy of beautiful sari-clad women to wish a senior Pakistani colleague ‘Happy Independence Day’ on August 15 (How we laughed!). We also got impromptu hugs which brought on a ‘on-top-of-the-world’ feeling!
My love for the sari continues despite being comfortable in formal trousers and shirts most of the time. And also, I must emphasise, despite the increase in girth! There’s no other dress that’s as informal, formal, casual or smart-casual as the sari. All you need is to acquire a love for it. The grace comes, naturally…