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Tied Up In Knots: When Saris Refuse To Cooperate

13/03/2016 8:30 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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Indian Saree

Women have engaged in the art of draping ever since the concept of clothing captured the imagination of Neanderthal women. And yet, some of us are destined to spend hours struggling to drape a sari.

Those who wear a sari on a regular basis can hardly comprehend the dilemma of an occasional sari enthusiast. The cosmic dice never falls in your favour when you are late for a wedding. All too often, you are rendered helpless when it comes to the length of the pallav, the symmetry of the pleats or the fall of the border. Total haplessness.

Several variables can dampen the enthusiasm of an occasional sari aficionado. The weather is one of them. The time allotted to drape a sari is another. As is a husband who can't tell between a georgette and a crepe.

When I tuck in the pleats, the outcome does nothing to attest to my month-long attempt to rein in my belly.

Just as I'm warming to the task of wearing a sari for a wedding and debating serious issues--like which sari to wear, which blouse will fit and what jewellery will match--the husband throws a spanner in the works. Subtly, of course. "We'll take an hour to reach. The traffic is bad." In short, hurry up.

I struggle with the damned safety pin that refuses to dive into the folds of a Kanjeevaram. When I tuck in the pleats, the outcome does nothing to attest to my month-long attempt to rein in my belly. Moreover, my back hurts after failed attempts to pin the pallav right. To add to the misery, the men folk are ready in a jiffy. As drops of sweat begin to play with my make-up, I overhear the son, "Dad, why do you think women haven't learnt the art of wearing a sari, in like, say thousand years? Isn't it against evolution?"

This is when I lose it. The husband comprehends the gravity of the situation and plays pantomime with the son. I notice their 'nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say-no-more' moment in the mirror.

Finally, when we reach the venue, we are the first to arrive. The anger simmers. As guests begin to arrive in Swarovski-studded chiffons, I wonder if silk was appropriate for the pleasant weather. Nonetheless, I try to ginger up. But when women know that they are not looking their best, they get entangled in weird emotions. Now, don't get all judgmental. It's human nature.

I overhear the son, "Dad, why do you think women haven't learnt the art of wearing a sari, in like, say thousand years? Isn't it against evolution?"

As the venue reverberates with 'Congratulations and celebrations, I want the world to know I'm happy as can be', the silence between us is deafening. The husband tries to warm me up. "You look lovely. Besides, who remembers what you are wearing?"

He gets it when a cousin chimes in, "Wow, Bhabhi. I love this beige sari you wore at my wedding." Bingo. Perfect timing. If he gets a glacial look, he totally deserves it. Because his expression is like, what have I done now? Also, because he can happily wear the same suit for the engagement, wedding and reception and the universe will not notice.

It gets worse when the videographer captures our cold war for posterity. There is something about videographers who act as if they are capturing Bhansali's magnum opus. The shameless pervert in them will never miss any embarrassing moment. Like when you are wiping curry-stained hands in a napkin or tucking in your bra strap.

The trigger for writing this piece is the reflection that a sari means nothing until a woman revels in the joy of being a woman. She either looks her best, or doesn't. It is about something that feels right. And drapes right. Mind you, it has nothing to do with narcissism. Vanity, perhaps? All said, women dress for themselves, and of course, other women. If women dressed for men, as the saying goes, they would just walk around naked at all times.

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