Tag Archives: sarees

The essential me!

Thankfully, in my world social networking means ‘really’ going out and meeting friends and socializing. However, going out also means that I need to ‘get-ready’ good clothes to wear and also ponder about my appearance, hairdo and accessories.

Some clothes have sequins and lace, some have embroidery, some have beadwork, some are heavy, some are light, some need heavy accessorizing, while some are so heavy that there can be no room for accessories.

Most days, going out nicely dressed is a lot of  fun. However, sometimes the sequins chaf against my neck, sometimes the hairclips that pin my hair tug at my hair roots, sometimes the material of the saree or dress makes me feel like I am in an oven.

And finally, when I get home, the joy of getting back into home clothes is pure bliss. Lovely cotton clothes, worn out and faded, much loved and frayed – can anything feel better? Tying my hair in an unruly knot, without hairclips to nag me. Removing make up and splashing cold water on my face.

Image courtesy – Clipartbaby

All this, and I am myself again. This is the ‘essential me’. My home clothes make me more efficient. I can think with more clarity, with my hair in a tangled knot.  Stretching out on the couch, I contemplate. I am at peace. I am home. 

Husbands and ‘dates’

Before I start this post, let me tell you that this post is not about husbands and dating.

The Indian festival season is upon us, and most Indian women, I’m sure, are busy stocking up their kitchens, and bringing out their sarees and traditional wear.

Courtesy -www.dreamstime.com
I am no exception. I have spent a few hours this last week trying to decide on which sarees to wear and the accessories to go with them.
So, picture this scene. I am pulling out sarees from my wardrobe, placing each one against my shoulder and performing a critical self-evaluation. My husband is in the background, watching TV or reading the newspaper for the nth time.

Some of my wedding sarees capture my attention. Each of these sarees brings back great memories. Some were gifts from my husband’s parents, some from my aunts, and most from my parents. I pull out a peacock blue saree with a simple zari border.  This was the saree that I wore when I met my husband for the first time.

I am swept away in a wave of joy. Draping the folded saree on my shoulder, I rush to share this happy memory. 

But, but, but…instead of merely sharing the memory and the joy, I quiz him.

“Do you remember this saree?” I ask, my eyes gleaming with happiness.

He lifts his head from the newspaper rather slowly.

“Hmmm…what?” he asks, in slow motion.

I repeat the question. His face suddenly takes on a wary expression. He knows the consequences of not remembering. I can almost see the gears in his head working overtime. He narrows his eyes and slants his eyes, hoping that these acts will somehow give him the answer to my simple question.

I wait. For I know that he is trapped. We have played this memory game many times with anniversary dates, birthdays, first time we met type of dates etc.

This is one variant of this game. I decide to be nice to him. I tell him that this is the saree I wore on our first meeting. 

He laughs – ‘relief’ escaping through his mouth. I laugh too. 

Just half an hour back he was reeling off Formula 1 statistics, as we sat watching the Monza GP telecast. So where do men store these facts ?

I have no answers…..I smile and get back to my wardrobe planning. My friends will remember what I wore and when I wore what! And I will remember their sarees too. 

And in this shared camaraderie, we will celebrate the Indian festival season, with lots of food, fun, selfies and gorgeous sarees. 

Best wishes of the season to all of you!

Wardrobe Woes of an Indian Woman

One of the biggest challenges of being an Indian woman is the lack of wardrobe space. I know that women from around the world have this problem, however the wardrobe woes of an Indian woman are compounded by the fact that we are spoilt for choice in terms of the sheer variety of clothes we get to wear – from sarees, ghagra cholis, anarkalis, salwar kameezes, churidhars and skirts, to Western wear!

Add to this equation the simple fact that there are hundreds of types of stunning sarees from different parts of the country to choose from; sarees that are vibrant and rich in their texture, material, designs and hues. These sarees are ‘must haves’ to ring in the hundreds of festivals we celebrate.  Throw in accessories and all the other types of clothes – both Indian and Western, and you can begin to understand our problem.

So, this morning my dear husband calls me to express his annoyance about how he has very little space for his ‘few’ (he stresses this for effect) striped, checked and plain shirts in various shades of grey, blue, white and ‘pale’. There are a few splashes of colour from his T shirts that offer some visual relief.

I go over to inspect. I try to look sympathetic but fail miserably. Instead, I feel guilty. I have encroached into two racks in his wardrobe, my ‘better’ bags and clutches rest there in comfort, while a few new sarees nestle in the other rack. I honestly tried to fit them into my wardrobe, but the sarees kept falling out!

Courtesy – http://www.clipartkid.com

He rolls his eyes in exasperation. Wardrobe space is like prime real estate! But how else can I organize my wardrobe with all the clothes and accessories? “Some kind of encroachment is inevitable”, I justify.

 These things do get aggravated when I go shopping during the holiday season. My hubby looks firm. My mind wants to offer to remove some of my stuff, but my heart worries about where I can find space.

He says, “You should start purging the old stuff.”

But that’s the point. Sarees, especially the silks, get better with time. I do not reply.

He is in a hurry. He says, “Do something about this.”

I nod meekly. My wardrobe woes continue.

Glass bangles

I love bangles, glass bangles, to be precise. If you stopped to listen to the breeze in any part of the Indian subcontinent, you would hear the melodious tinkle of glass bangles, worn by women across the country.


               Picture courtesy  http://www.geethafashion.weebly.com

In India, glass bangles are traditionally associated with most milestones in a woman’s life – engagement,  wedding and baby showers. After the wedding, most women wear a few glass bangles or at least metal ones everyday, as dictated by their culture and family traditions.

I love glass bangles for their rich colours and vibrant tones. Couple these with an elegant saree…and they look gorgeous.

In the south, many families host a small event called ‘Valaikaapu’ (The Bangle Ceremony), in a pregnant woman’s third trimester. Usually hosted by the girl’s parents, the day is filled with lots of fun, rituals and good food.

For this function, a few hundred glass bangles are bought. Women on both sides of the pregnant woman’s family adorn her with tinkling and beautiful glass bangles on both hands, usually odd-numbered. In addition, one thin gold and silver bangle each are put on each hand.  All women and girls, who attend the event, are gifted a few glass bangles. Usually there’s an assortment of colours to choose from.

The tinkling of the bangles is supposed to stimulate the baby’s senses. The bangles are usually removed, when labour sets in. 

These days, bangles are bought in bulk from shops, however, when I was a kid, a bangle-seller was called home. I still remember how excited we were when the bangle-seller came home with his huge bundle of glass bangles. We watched, as my grandmom and mom chose bangles for my aunt’s Valaikappu, and for all the women and little girls.


                     Picture courtesy     

Last year, there was a wedding in the family, and I stocked up on my glass bangles; colour coordinated with every saree I wore to the various ceremonies.

Simple tinkling accessories, that signify so much and that bring so much joy!

The Reminder Saree – A Short Story

My mother stands in my grandmother’s room, it is still my grandma’s room, though she is no longer in this world.  It’s been six months since she passed away, and only today, my mom feels strong enough to sort through my grandma’s things.  I can see her eyeing grandma’s things, pausing here, and appearing to flick something from her eye, when she is actually wiping away a tear.

Then her body straightens, driven by her resolve to finish the task at hand.  She attacks grandma’s big metal trunk that has all her sarees.  When we open the box, the trunk gives a metal creak, and the smell of my grandma floats up.  She used to smell of a little bit of cardamom (that she chewed after every meal), a little bit of jasmine (flowers that she wore in her hair everyday), and a little bit of our home.  Both of us are hit by nostalgia as we sift through the bright hued sarees – parrot greens, yellows, reds, midnight blues…!

As we reach the bottom of the trunk, there is a saree that is folded rather oddly, it does not have the geometric precision of the others.  Curious, I pull it out, only to find that one whole section of the saree has small knots tied on it -at least a hundred, at first glance.  I trace my hand across one of these knots, only to find something hard under it.  I show them to my mother and ask her what they are.

My mom laughs, and replies, ” Oh! That is grandma’s Reminder Saree. ”

Reminder Saree?” I ask, puzzled.

“Yes, reminder.  Your grandma used to tie small coins in this saree, as reminders for tasks she had to complete”, says my mom.

“Oh!” I say. “But how did she remember all of them?  Why didn’t she simply write them down? How did she know which tasks were done and which were not?” I ask.

“This was the method that most women in those days followed, as they were busy in the farm or in the kitchen and had no time to write things down, so these coin reminders were easy. And your grandma had a fantastic memory. Once a task was complete, she removed the corresponding coin”, replies my mother.

“Oh! so you mean she has these hundred reminders for things that are not yet done?” I ask.

“Yes, probably. Now we will never know what they are”, answers my mother and goes on with her work.

That day we managed to finish sorting through grandma’s things and relived all the fun memories we’d had with her.  I asked my mother if I could keep the ‘Reminder Saree‘ with me.  My mother agreed.

Time just flew by, as I got busy with my school year, projects and playtime with friends. Occasionally, my eyes would fall on the ‘Reminder Saree‘, and I would wonder about those unfinished tasks.  But then, some other small thing was enough for my attention to waver, and life went on.

Soon, it was my tenth birthday.  We had a family lunch, where I was showered with gifts. After our heavy lunch, most of us had dozed off, when we heard the door bell chime.

I could hear my mom talking to somebody.  Suddenly I heard my name called.

“Malli, Malli”, my mom called.

When I went to the living room, I saw our village bangle maker.  He had a parcel in his hand.

He handed it to me and said, “Your grandmother had ordered these for your birthday & had told me that she would tie a coin in her saree, to remind her to pick these bangles up on your birthday. Since she is not with us anymore, I decided to come in person and gift them to you on this special day. Happy Birthday.”

I opened the gift and was thrilled to see that my grandmother had ordered five colourful sets of the most beautiful glass bangles for me.  I remembered telling her that I loved the green ones she always wore on her wrists.

I wore the bangles and spun around the living room, moving my arms up and down and enjoying the gentle tinkling of the glass bangles.  I quickly ran to my room, took out the Reminder Saree & untied one of the reminder knots and took out the coin.

At least one mystery of the ‘unfinished tasks’ was solved.