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A sari state of affairs

This wedding season, spare a thought for the sartorial black sheep

brunch Updated: Jan 20, 2018 23:48 IST
Rehana Munir
Rehana Munir
Hindustan Times
A Sari Affair,sari story,sari woes
The wedding season is still synonymous to gorgeous saris(Photo Imaging: Parth Garg)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that winter is an exciting time fashion-wise. Short skirts and knee-high boots. Artistically draped scarves. Carefully matched woollens. And then there’s desi wedding music, which makes a strong case for kala chashmas, high heels and swagger. ’Tis the season to dazzle with brocade and impress with suede. Conversely, it’s also the time when the sartorial black sheep feel more sheepish than usual.

Consider the wedding question. The embellishment of lehengas and measurement for suits prepare the couple for life together well. Popular wisdom dictates, if you’ve withstood tailoring disasters close to wedding events, you’re pretty much ready for the challenges of marriage. What could possibly be more stressful? (EMIs and kids, illnesses and in-laws are, at this point, things that happen to Other People.)

Tailor-made for each other

While family and friends have moved on from fittings to accessories, I am selecting saris between dust-triggered sneezes

But spare a thought for the wedding guests. “What will I wear to the wedding?” is a vague yet imminent threat that looms on the horizon weeks before revelries begin. Closer to the date, the question turns into a 24x7 neon sign I carry over my head. My early defence is standard – “Some sari.” And then it happens. The days to D-Day advance quicker than Donald Trump’s tweets and spread as much panic. And then, just like that, it’s here. The day of reckoning. While assorted family and friends have moved on from fittings and trimmings to hairstyles and accessories, I find myself sitting in a room surrounded by inherited saris, rapidly eliminating choices between dust-triggered sneezes.

From Benares to Kanjeevaram

Old Banarasis are a thing of beauty. But like the city of their origin, they’re also a great metaphor for decay. Nothing rips the heart like a fatal tear in an old Banarasi. Which brings me to the next option – a Kanjeevaram as intense as an M.S. Subbulakshmi bhajan. (There’s even a sari shade – MS Blue – named after her.) Only, it has no fall. I have no interest in being a prelapsarian Eve. My saris must have a fall, else they rip at the border. The old red-and-gold favourite will undoubtedly clash with the bride. And so I settle for a trusty green and gold. But I have no idea where the petticoat might be. And the blouse was clearly fitted for a younger self.

By the time I arrive at the venue, I realise my sari pleats are in the mood for anarchy, moving from their stable centrist position to the radical left. The pallu is proving several Newtonian laws at once

Once the nightmare of choosing a sari has passed, there’s the bitter truth of its draping to face. I have, in the past, dashed over to the nearest beauty parlour to get it done. But planning even at this level seems to be beyond me these days. And so I have my walk of shame to contend with– a last-minute phone call to the nearest friend at/near whose home a sari-wearer might reside. From aunties to neighbours and cooks to cousins, everyone’s stood hunched over me, pleating and straightening, tugging and pinning, while I stand robotically, shamefacedly, ineffectually.

The pallu strikes back

And then finally it’s done. The last barrier is the footwear – many saris necessitate heels, but I regularly twist my ankle wearing flats, so heels are an impossible dream. Time for the old Kolhapuris to make an appearance. A flash of red bindi. A streak of black kajal. A hint of gold jhumkas. And I’m all set.

By the time I arrive at the venue, I realise my sari pleats are in the mood for anarchy, moving from their stable centrist position to the radical left. The pallu is proving several Newtonian laws at once. And the blouse is threatening me with dire consequences even when I look towards the canapés.

All around me, I see women in high heels and immaculately- draped saris, with perfectly arranged hair and smiles. The bride is carrying off an ensemble that easily weighs 12 kilos with full aplomb, flashing the perfect smile at multiple cameras.

I think it best to occupy the nearest seat for fear my sari will unravel like my carefully gathered emotional state. But then Tamma Tamma Loge comes on. An inveterate dancer with an intimate knowledge of ’90s Bollywood, I leap at the dance floor. There are worse things in life than dishevelled saris.

From HT Brunch, January 21, 2018

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First Published: Jan 20, 2018 22:42 IST