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Delhiwale: The lungi aesthete

The humble wraparound is Delhi’s cool formula for hot days. It comes with its own style and technique.

delhi Updated: Mar 06, 2018 13:00 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Delhiwale,Dilliwale,lungi
Many Delhiwallas cultivate a relationship with their lungis at home but quite a few also wear this outfit in public, especially when their work entails being under the searing sun all day long.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

For men in hot and humid cities such as Delhi, the ubiquitous lungi, or tehemed, seems to be the next best thing to beach wear. A sheet of cloth wrapped around the waist, it is said to be a most appropriate way to ventilate the legs.

Many Delhiwallas cultivate a relationship with their lungis at home but quite a few also wear this outfit in public, especially when their work entails being under the searing sun all day long — a big shout out to the city’s labourers, rickshaw-pullers, dhaba cooks, street vendors and other men of similarly formidable professions.

They all resort to lungi as a necessary survival kit in the savage heat.

One day, however, we came across… well, a lungi aesthete.

A milkman in old Delhi’s Lal Kuan, the gentleman claimed to be one of the very few in the area to follow the “right” style of wearing the lungi. He fretted that people no longer take the garment seriously.

The man then showed us how to drape the cloth right on the street, tying the knot on the front, rather than on the side, the more common practice.

“Every year, I get a new stock of lungis from my relatives in Karachi,” he told us with modesty. “Good lungis are made in Pakistan, not India.”

Standing proud in his costume, with a turban on his head, the man finally posed for us as the torch-bearer of Delhi’s lungi tradition. No other lungi-clad man around was dressed like him.

First Published: Mar 06, 2018 09:45 IST