Ever since Dushasan pulled Draupadi’s sari like a magician pulls out linked handkerchiefs from a hat, the Indian male woke up to the sexiness of sari. There is so much that a sari can reveal that even though women tried their best to cover themselves up with T-shirts and jeans, men frothed at their mouth and gave cultural references to stop the extinction of the aphrodisiacal attire.
We all know that a sari reveals more than a western dress. Imagine Sridevi in Mr. India wearing a skirt instead of that blue sari when she flattened her lips on the lips of an invisible Mr. India and you will suck the oomph out of the song. Imagine Dimple wearing a Salwar Kameez in Saagar instead of a red sari as Rishi Kapoor does a Dushasan with her water soaked pallu and he would not have waited for her to say – Jaane Do na. Imagine Raveena in a mini skirt doing a tip-tip barsa paani with Akshay jungle Kumar and the authenticity would have been lost. It is surprising that even when a sari has been used as a sex toy in our movies, our cultural self-appointed hounds endorse it with the intensity with which Bhagyashree endorsed Himalaya.
Coming back to real life, a lot of women hate the wrapper. The primary reason is that it is completely unmanageable while you work in your office. Secondly, no one has the time to leisurely drape herself in the morning when your husband is screaming in your ear because he can’t find his towel and your child is pulling your hair because his bag is not ready. Wearing a sari is like making a dish for the MasterChef finale. You really can’t fast forward the process.
Who gave me the authority to talk on the subject? Well, I have seen women in my family grope with the endless piece of cloth. Their pain haunts me.
I have witnessed swarms of angry waves that swirl out of my mother’s eyes when she has to wear a sari. She likes Saris but only when they are hanging like slaughtered pigs in her almirah. She sometimes reluctantly wears them and ends up vowing never to touch them again. Geet and I bought her a really expensive sari recently for a cousins wedding who lives in a hill-station. She did not wear it. ‘You want me to get entangled in bushes and fall off the cliff?’ she asked. The said sari sleeps in her almirah, maybe till the end of humanity.
My sister wore a sari at my wedding. She was at the end of her tethers throughout and looked as if she would fall to pieces if anyone poked her. Before that, the only time I remember her wearing a sari was when she was in class 6th and turned into Indira Gandhi for a fancy dress competition. She went on stage, raised her finger and forgot her line. I still have her photograph somewhere wearing a white sari with a blue border, trying to remember her dialogue with a raised finger looking like a roll of cloth wrapped on a rod.
So when Geet entered the house with two large suitcases full of saris, I thought that the attire will now get some respect in our house. The saris are still lying in those suitcases, wrapped and untouched. A few of them came out occasionally for weddings but boy! what a tornado that was. Usually, helping Geet wear a sari leads to these situations :
- Deep discussions about which sari to wear for at least a week before the function. If she has to wear one to school for special occasions, then the duration is reduced to 2-3 days. This includes taking out the contender saris and answering questions like – Why do you think this is better? Why not the other one? Give logical explanation.
- Help with the accessories. There should be matching things to wear in the neck, arms and ears. Matching sandals. Matching lipstick. Matching nail-polish. And a matching husband. Well, there isn’t much of a choice there.
- Wake up 30 minutes before time on D-Day.
- On the D-Day, help her wear the sari. Squat in front of her and hold the pleats of the sari in the correct position while she tucks them in. This gets really frustrating at times because it is never done correctly the first time. Re-pleat and try again. If it fails three times in a row, yell for mom.
- If it a cotton sari, hide in the bathroom.
Needless to say, Geet was as affectionate towards a sari as the rest of the female pack in the house.
The fact that Indians managed to invent something so difficult to wear goes completely against their image in my mind. Aren’t we supposed to be utterly lazy? Going by that parameter, wouldn’t we invent attires which are less time consuming to wear? But we invented sari, dhoti and pagdi which are enough to entangle yourself in so many layers. I have never worn a dhoti but I am sure I will fall flat on my face after taking two steps. Men in cities have completely given up the historical attires but it hasn’t changed for women. It is strange that we attach Indian-ness to it. If I am an Indian male who wears jeans or a suit, then why a woman is not being Indian if she wears a skirt or jeans? It seems that in addition to what we wear to cover our skin, we also wear a halo of double standards.
Anyways, I am very sorry for all the saris lying neglected in my house. All I can tell them is that destiny must have something else stored for them. One of them was turned into a Jaipuri Razai sometime back. I am wondering if they can also me used to make pillow covers, handkerchiefs, table cloths, kitchen towels, mop clothes, car covers, men’s kurta etc etc. Has anyone tried making any of this with a sari?