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Bring Back the Lungi I Say

23/03/2015 8:08 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Raquel Maria Carbonell Pagola via Getty Images
BHUBANESHWAR, ORISSA, INDIA - 2014/01/05: Group of men in lungi in front of a temple. (Photo by Raquel Maria Carbonell Pagola/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In India, most of us sweat buckets most of the year. Rivulets of perspiration, trickling down our back is an all too familiar feeling. In Delhi's scorching summer, I start sporting the tomato-trapped-in-a-hot-sauna look. With my back permanently soaked with sweat, the face a flaming red and my hair frizzy beyond belief, I look like quite a sight. I refuse to meet most of my friends in summer -- what if they start thinking I'm ugly? What if they don't recognize me at all?

This is the season when I discard all my noble endeavours towards energy conservation, carbon footprints and gleefully help burn some more holes in the ozone layer. I'd rather keep my cool than save the environment. But what gets my goat is when I see people attired in skin-tight summer unfriendly clothes. As the mercury hits the roof, the last thing you need is squeezing yourself into your jeans or wearing trousers with full sleeved shirts. Just the sight of it makes me break into a sweat.

And this despite the many options we women have. Saris for the breezy feel, skirts of all shapes and sizes, sarongs for convenience and shorts if you don't mind men gawking at your legs! Men sadly only have a choice of length -- short, mid way or full length.

A few days back as I was twiddling my thumbs and counting the cobwebs, I came up with a designer of an idea!

Men-folk can now expect deliverance and break free from the tyranny of their trousered existence. Guys, time is ripe to go back to your roots and embrace the preferred attire of our forefathers. It's time to say yes to our desi lungi!

Look how our Mallu brothers and our Tam uncles fearlessly show off their hairy legs in their mundus. This one-size-fits-all-bottoms garment is simple, down to earth and extremely pocket friendly.

"It can be worn 'Full Mast' or 'Half Mast' like a national flag. Go full-mast for the demure look and half if you are feeling naughty!"

As a kid I used to find its north Indian counterpart, the lungi, truly appalling. A lungi which usually comes in flamboyant floral or window-curtain patterns has an instant eww appeal. Ask me, I know. My Dad in his heydays had a vibrant collection, each one more colourful than the last and no amount of glaring or cajoling worked. At home when he was relaxing, Baba was surgically attached to his lungi! When my fiancé and I were courting each other, I was plagued with thoughts of my guy in a lungi. One day, I finally managed to stutter "I hope you don't wear a lungi'? 'Naah I prefer shorts', he said. It was only when we started co-habiting, I discovered his stunning collection of shorts -- each one more hideous than the last. Why he even had a pair in red with something in French printed on it!

But now I have grown older and wiser. After my deep introspection of the past few days, I am convinced about the sheer versatility of this bedsheet-like garment. It can be worn 'Full Mast' or 'Half Mast' like a national flag. Go full-mast for the demure look and half if you are feeling naughty! And you don't have to restrict yourself to boring neutrals, checks and stripes. You can go wild with colours and patterns, a splash here and a splash there. Rest assured you will never be lost in a fair!!!!

If you are haunted by the thoughts of a wardrobe malfunction -- please put your fears aside. Ask any lungi-pro and he'll tell you about the art of tying it lies in its technique. Once you've perfected it, even an earthquake can't shake off a well tied lungi. Have you ever seen a lion of Punjab's forehead creased with worry lines as he jumps up and down in a lungi doing his bhangra? Naah, he experiences sheer unhindered joy.

The secret behind the success of Gandhi's Non-Violent movement lay in his dhoti.

You only need to worry when you jump out of a crashing plane in a parachute or you climb up a tree to save a distressed kitty. Your modesty might be a stake and if a girl is passing by you might hear a horrified scream. But hey, it will be fun way to show off your Calvin Kleins!

And looking at the brighter side, you will now have the option to look hot and feel cool. Imagine biking at full speed in a lungi on the highway, with the wind caressing not just your hair. Getting into a heated argument, don't lose your cool; just hitch up your lungi to express displeasure. The sight of your toned legs will stun your opponent into mute submission. If Salman Khan is your idol, you can always choose to go topless. A carelessly thrown gamcha with your biceps doing peek-a-boo will drive women mad with lust, including that cranky officer at the passport office. If despite wearing a lungi you feel the heat, you can use the ends of it to fan your heated parts. So convenient, so eco friendly. And you can put your reservations about its suitability in winters aside. If a Scot can survive in his kilt why can't you?

The new age man is not scared of global warming anymore, he's ready to face it leg-on. It is time to tell Louis Phillipe to go take a walk and never come back, send Levis and its sundry cousins packing to Barack's own country. The oh-so-cool Bhartiya mard will now be walking tall in his lungi.

The one-size-fits-all wonder garment is now available in Picasso prints, Martin Jansen's abstracts and Bollywood kitsch at purbaslungi.com. PS: Coming soon a zippered version with matching underpants.

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