Undressing the Dress Code | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Oct 19, 2017-Thursday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Undressing the Dress Code

Recently I approached Simranjit Singh Mann for an interview regarding a book that I am writing. He cordially agreed to my request and invited me to the Chandigarh Golf Club for tea. Writes Khushwant Singh.

chandigarh Updated: Jun 15, 2014 14:19 IST
Khushwant Singh

Recently I approached Simranjit Singh Mann for an interview regarding a book that I am writing. He cordially agreed to my request and invited me to the Chandigarh Golf Club for tea.

Given his capacity to court controversy, sure enough, he was stopped at the reception area for he was not adhering to the dress code as prescribed by the club management. Yes, he was wearing the sort of thing that social clubs are highly allergic to. It’s a sacrilege to wear a kurta-pyjama to a club; more blasphemous than a member crashing a beer bottle on a fellow member’s nut.

But Mann being Mann would have none of it, and warned the management that if they did not change this rule soon, he would be forced to launch an agitation whereby even women would not be allowed salwarkameez in the club. “Tell the President if the rules are not changed to allow men in kurta-pyjama, aurtan vi pher skirtaan which aangayiya,” he said.

Though known for his bizarre comments otherwise, his logic that if salwar-kameez, the feminine version of kurta-pyjama was allowed, then why not the male version, had a streak of merit. While we leave Mann and the club management to sort out their logics, it may not be a bad idea to try to decode the dress code culture -its benefits, disadvantages, inclusivity of traditional dresses in clubs and the colonial hangover that still exists. Frankly speaking, I don’t know which side of the dress code lobby I myself am, because terrible dressing can be a put off, but then, some of the best dressed can equally peeve you off with their rowdy behaviour. So, who is a gentleman -the guy in the kurta-pyjama or the suited and booted drunk chap on the bar? Oops sorry! One tends to forget that clubs only recognise those people as gentlemen, who wear western outfits.

One understands the logic that dress codes and rules aspire to bring about consistency in the atmosphere of a club, but what defies me is the reasoning behind deciding dress codes.

So the question is that what ails kurta-pyjamas from not making the cut to decent club wear? Incidentally, if you wear a jacket on top of the same kurta pyjama you suddenly make the cut and certain clubs have even kept jackets just in case members turn up in kurta-pyjamas. Secondly, why is it that a churidaar kurta pyjama passes off as formal wear but not the free flowing pyjama, whereas the difference is just the same as between loose fit trousers and slim fit ones? Is it because that the jacket and the churidaar help differentiate between a night suit and formal traditional wear?

No, no one is joining the debate with the dress code extremists who would want to clobber this by saying then why stop people from coming in undergarments. The point is that, do club managements suffer from a hangover from our colonial past that refuses to go? Or is it the urbane society’s lack of confidence in people who wear traditional dresses as a kurta-pyjama is stereotyped with people from rural areas, politics and religion, the latter two facing serious credibility issues.

Or is it the other way round that, the governing members of the clubs do not have confidence in themselves to try inclusivity. Or is it that they turn into such classists that they cannot think of allowing dresses that are traditional in nature. If the parliament allows it, why not clubs? Or is Parliament a club that promotes inclusivity and clubs exclusivity?

Classists I say, because notice boards of various clubs in today’s day and age have the gall to write, ‘maids and servants not allowed.’ Come on; is this what educated people write on notice boards? It is almost an equivalent of what the British wrote during the Raj.

Coming back to the kurta-pyjama debate, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi being pitched as the new fashion icon by the western media, maybe it’s time for the babus (they head most of the club managements) to take a U turn on this one too.