One of the things that attracted me to journalism is the casual dress code followed in the offices. And the mere knowledge that I need not necessarily adhere to the niceties of a formal dress code for the rest of my life thrilled me.india Updated: Apr 07, 2006 02:07 IST
One of the things that attracted me to journalism is the casual dress code followed in the offices. I joined the profession in the mid-Eighties, after completing my education in a college where ties and suits were not mandatory even on formal occasions. And the mere knowledge that I need not necessarily adhere to the niceties of a formal dress code for the rest of my life thrilled me. The sight, at my first job, of my editor arriving at work one day in rubber slippers only strengthened my belief that I’d made the right choice.
But I was never like the filmi reporter of the Eighties — clad in khadi kurta-pyjama, rubber slippers and a jhola. Jeans, casual trousers, shirts, T-shirts and a couple of tweed jackets (of Kashmir emporium fame) formed my wardrobe. As far as shoes are concerned, the maximum I have gone to are the Bata slip-ons.
And believe me, having travelled with Union ministers and chief ministers and attended parties hosted by politicians, senior defence officials and bureaucrats both in India and abroad, I never felt the need to possess a formal attire.
However, my fancy for wearing casuals, believe it, cost me a princely dinner this week. I was quite elated when I received a personal invitation from Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, to join him at a dinner he was hosting for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles.
But a call from Singh’s principal secretary changed everything. Perhaps aware of my casual dressing habits, Suresh Kumar politely made it a point to mention the dress code for the occasion — national/informal. Some frantic calls to IAS friends to find out the exact meaning of these terms shattered my prospects of sharing caviar and wine with the prince. ‘National’ meant not kurta-pyjama, but a formal bandgala coat and a pant or achkan-churidar, with Oxford shoes having laces. And ‘informal’ was a suit, not a combination.
I tried hard to procure these, but alas Chandigarh was not the place to get them at short notice. The thought of hiring them crossed my mind, but I decided against it.
So while invitees to the dinner gorged on imported goose liver, caviar, Italian wine and the famous Patiala food, I had my dal-phulka at home and missed a great chance to dine with the future king of England.
They say it’s never too late to learn. At least for the odd occasion, I may now have to buy a couple of formals, and maybe a ‘national’ dress too.