Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Save the Sari"

Don't know if it is a hoax, but it sounds really bizarre. Shashi Tharoor, the man in running for the top post of United Nations (but who lost), has this rant about Indian women not preferring to wear Sari anymore (link to the dreaded TOI website):

So why has this masterpiece of feminine attire begun fading from our streets? On recent visits home to India I have begun to notice fewer and fewer saris in our public places, and practically none in the workplace. The salwar kameez, the trouser and even the Western dress-suit have begun to supplant it everywhere. And this is not just a northern phenomenon, the result of the increasing dominance of our culture by Punjabi-ised folk who think nothing of giving masculine names to their daughters.
The last line had me in splits. Anyway, is there a more wasteful and irrational dress than Sari? I don't think so. As perfect an example of "conspicuous leisure" as it can get.

Link via Emma who also has a wonderful response.

11 comments:

jyothsnay said...

yup, I read this too.n such a relatabale introspection.I am jst back from my Mumbai trip where I went for a business meeting.n dnot know, but felt like wearing a silk sari (for a change! from jeans n skirts) ..n what an elegant relief to the onlookers as well as to self, I guess, my elegant sari n the way I draped self in & the way I carried this well crafted attire certainly drew many glances of admiration, amidst the sorority clad in casuals,wild west jeans, semi naked!
I do agree with our beloved diplomat n writer, somehow we are losing touch with this magnificient attire that would bring out sensuous, elegant n poised woman of every woman.the spontaneous pat could be it's not convenient, really demands a lot of care n attention n certaonly not as a regular wear, especially, for working women who are more conscpicuous in the streets.sure, but it certainly deserves all that stress..

Alok, dnot u agree with me, most Indian men love to see their women draped in a sari, the ultimate killer machine? ur heart throbs much faster than you would think of it be capable of ....well, I may not sound so helpless that I screech hold n say " save my poor sari"...it's still enjoys that covetous position in one's mindset...

jyothsnay said...

what ..
sari is conspiracy aga8inst women n it's a vestige of patriocity
I guess, you need a thourough meltdown
sari reflects the in-born elegance of a woman, which is so unique to her and it's like a power statement made subtly by a contemporary woman. certainly not an act of subjugation, a tool of the same, cause I say, men become willingly servile to a woman who is draped in a sari...huh!

Alok said...

Its patriarchy by the way, not "patriocity." :)

Your whole idea of women looking "elegant" and making men servile sounds as if coming from medieval ages. women should wear what makes them feel good independent of what men think of them, the whole idea of women's emnacipation is to move into a gender neutral territory... get over this man-woman divide as far as possible. dress to me seems the easiest thing to do in this respect. a gender neutral dress is what we should encourage.

i am not against all kinds of tradition and i also don't equate short skirts etc with modernity... but this idea that you dress only for yourself and not for men around you is what i call being modern.

jyothsnay said...

huh typo..wipe off that grin,ye, you look charming though,please! huh!

Alok said...

:)

jyothsnay said...

a man's perspective is sooo significantly different from a woman's perspective

I drape self in a sari not to attract men in the streets or derive a free ticket to a heady, edgy journey to exotic lands where I along with the man (who is struggling after having got caught in the web) on the virgin sands...I celebrate my Femininity
in my sari, a class apart from the masses, a diva kinda fleeting over blithers, men, huh, do you exist?

km said...

Every intellectual's really just a nostalgist at heart. Tharoor's talking through his topi, but I can understand why.

Antonia said...

i can understand you both, alok and jyo - perhaps jyo sees the sari as alternative to the western clothes which are obviously restrictive, too. In a sort of gaining back what the other clothes lack, as a way of genuinly to express ones feelings or sexuality or whatever which one cannot do because western clothes have as ideal to display female sexuality in barbie-style while a sari I would assume leaves a bit more freedom in this respect? for it is figure agnostic? So in a sense the sari as escape? I was also thinking in the beginning before I knew that it requires high maintenance and is for sitting still that it could be an alternative, - or I still think it is one, for as you say as long as one feels comfy one should wear whatever one wants...
it remains a bit difficult, this question...but once one got rid of gender everyone could wear sari and it would not matter at all anymore because questions of clothing would have become redundant.

Alok said...

I was of course generalising there. But the basic idea that women have to dress specifically like women and be more "feminine", "graceful" or "elegant" -- these are all very loaded words. And sari or such traditional feminine dress is being defended in those terms. So even if it is say uncomfortable to a working woman she will still wear it because she wants to be "feminine".. this is what I found troublesome in Jyothsna's comment.

Of course no one has to force somebody and everybody has to make one's own choices but those choices should ideally signify the progress that we have made in bringing the two genders closer together. that's why i said i would prefer a reasonably gender-neutral dressing even if it makes women look less "elegant".

Antonia said...

i understand, alok, there is way too much fuss about clothes and what they all mean...and then I was imagine how much one could have read in all that time that one has spent into defending/accusing sari...;)

Anonymous said...

Irrespective of what attire a woman wears, if one has to look elegant will look elegant. I have seen many women look elegant on saris, and also many look mediocre on jeans as well.

So, its not the attire, but the grace that matters.
-Vijay