Monday, May 9, 2011

When knots become undone


Traditional Indian clothes are rather complicated. We have yards of fabrics that have to be draped around the body, tucked in and kept there firmly! We women are luckier than men in this as the saree during the course of  its evolution developed for itself the need for an underskirt which keeps the pleats firmly in place. 
Not so with men! The veshti/ mundu/ dhoti continues to be in its original primitive state- a long length of fabric and that’s it!!! So they are rather tricky items of clothing to say the least.
 
There are number of horror stories that I have heard about veshtis and mundus which suddenly developed a mind of their own and decided that they did not want to be where they were….  i.e on the waist of the wearer..!

Only this morning, my husband was narrating to me the story about how fifteen years ago he decided to wear a silk “veshti” to his wedding. The garment- a beautiful off white piece of cloth with a thin gold border was purchased and admired by all in the family. But unfortunately, he had no previous experience in wearing it.  Not something that bothered him- obviously because… after all what is so difficult about tying a piece of cloth around your middle? But as the bridegroom started to get ready for the ceremony, he suddenly found that tying a piece of cloth was not as easy as he thought it would be. Silk as we know is a very slippery material and so what he tucked into place refused to stay in place…! His uncles who were veterans in Mundu / veshti tying thought he was making a big hue and cry about nothing.  “Just let it be there. Don’t fiddle with it” said one of his uncles from Kottayam. Finally in an act of sheer desperation he took a belt and tied it around the veshti hoping it would stay in place as he gingerly made his way to the bride’s place. Thankfully the cloth stayed in place and did not disgrace him during or after the ceremony.

But not so during a friend’s wedding when hubby dearest suddenly had the yearning to again wear a veshti. Unfortunately, this time the wedding was in Trichy and he had forgotten to pack a belt. Silk began misbehaving again and he had to literally hold on his modesty!

 Life however poses a lot of challenges….! We had this fancy new digital camera  those days which he was holding in his other hand. Each time someone saw the camera they wanted a picture. Now, as we all know taking a picture holding a camera with  one hand is not very easy. Since I did not know how this electronic gizmo operated he had to perform the feat.. so what we had were a series of photos that looked like crime scene pictures and a groups of women giggling every time my harassed husband  passed them by…! Finally, taking pity on his condition, I took the camera and put it into my bag. The veshti continued to threaten but after a quick lunch we rushed out of the marriage hall before any female guest could complain of indecent exposure!

Nothing however can beat this very entertaining account that I have heard about a relative of mine. Let us call him Mr. X.  Apparently this gentleman who was also not very familiar to the veshti/ mundu wore it to a wedding. This was the 1970s when most  men’s  underwear used to have  draw strings. Well,  Mr. X while trying to manage the knot of his veshti/ mundu suddenly realized that he had another more serious problem at hand- the draw string of his underwear had loosened and was on the verge of becoming undone!!!!! Meanwhile, he saw from afar an old friend who was advancing towards him with a smile on his face and calling out his name!! He had to quickly decide how he was going to greet his friend. Shaking hands or folding them together by way of greeting was clearly out of question. So he decided he would keep his greeting verbal. Just as he was getting ready to say “Hello” his wife who was by his side suddenly tugged at his arm to pull him to a side to meet a relative of hers. This action from that quarter was totally unexpected.  Mr. X had to make a choice about how he was going to save his modesty. In an attempt to keep the veshti in place he had to sacrifice his hold on the underwear which was now clearly going to give itself up ( or down?).

As his underwear slipped down he stood riveted to the spot in the hope that it would be unobserved. But people had other plans for him..! His friend of many years after exchanging pleasantries suddenly started pushing him by the elbow to meet another friend who was spotted some distance away. Mr. X considered standing there and smiling at the other friend but his wife frowned at him said “Why are you standing here like this – go and say hello to him”.

So what did he do ? Like the brave man that he was  he stepped over his chaddis and walked towards friend no 2.

But did the story end there? Of course not ! Some nosy kids from behind suddenly picked up the fallen underwear and asked loudly – “Whose underwear is this”?

“I don’t know. Ask Aunty” said Mr. X as he glided his way to greet his friend!!!

So goes the story of veshtis and mundus in my family-  a truly simple garb until it decides to ditch you…!!!

18 comments:

Heavenly Muse said...

this type of dressing seems like challange.:-)

cloud nine said...

ROFL!!! Meera...hahaha...such a nice post! Delight to read, imagining Mr X and his " Ask Aunty" comment....oh my!!! Would love to read more suhc humorous posts from you:)))

KParthasarathi said...

Hilarious with your usual hyperboles!!!!
You have a knack of injecting natural wit and humour in commonplace occurences>

Deepa said...

Ha! Ha! Who is this poor man with veshti problems? I remember even Appa tied a belt over his dhoti for his marriage. The photos are all there!

anindita said...

Meera, loved this post. You truly come out with amazing subjects for your post. Well Uncle X was so smart to pass it on to aunty, “...ask aunty!”, that is hilarious!

anindita said...

Meera, loved this post. You truly come out with amazing subjects for your post. Well Uncle X was so smart to pass it on to aunty, “...ask aunty!”, that is hilarious!

kamalika said...

a nice articl of our traditional wear. we often associate our leaders wit their dresses. egs Bharti wit his THALAPPa, MK Gandhi with his thin cotton dress, Jinnah with his western style outfits. After readin ur articl one may be afraid of wearing this outfit for an occassion.(as it may untie at any moment).Sooner or later ready made varient of DHOTIs may come ( whic could be wornlike pants). I think ready to wear saree is already available.
How ever how do u forgot .. wearing a saree ( wit out adequate knowldge of wearing it),, posses equal risk weightage.
rgds

Bikramjit said...

hmmm :) i can understand, I am a person who clings to heritage a lot , I remember in my college days it was a good feeling ot wear a Chadra .. its called in punjabi like a dhoti .. and its a art to tie it , it looks easy but how u ties makes sure if when u r walking ur legs are visible or not..

:) had a smile at litte incidents in the post ...

Bikram's

Ibhade said...

hahahhahahaahahahaha, i had always wondered how you do it...yes in Nigeria, we do tie wrappers at the waist which stays put at the side in a tight knot but un-experts like me do ask the tailors to attach extra string to the end so that we can tie them firmly.

Tomz said...

Very funny mundu stories..I think everyone who had tried mundu at least once has such fabulous adventures to tell..nice flow of writing..loved it..Though I dint fall a victim of mundu mishaps, my memories of mundu wearing occasions are still colorful..

Emmy said...

bahahahhahaha HILARIOUS!!! i LOVED THIS

Meera Sundararajan said...

Thanks folks for enjoying this..! Let us hope that no one else has to be in a situation like Uncle X - BTW what I posted was the kindest version of this story ( there are varying other versions - much much more colourful than this one!)

Christopher said...

Wow - great piece Meera. I still wonder how Veshtis and Sarees defy gravity.

I tried a lungi once instead of my usual pyjamas and went to bed. Had to search for it when I woke up. NEVER tried it again.

vaidegi j said...

that was so hilarious, and nice easy flow! enjoyed it. :)

Gayu said...

Hehehehehe...I'm still laughing!!!!
Wonderful blog...each and every post is superb...and I could learn a lot from you.

I guess most of the guys have this veshti problems...Even my used to have problems...cos he had a pot belly:)

Regards,
Gayu

Gayu said...

I meant to say...even my DAD had problems with Veshti...cos of his pot belly:P

Rhapsody B. said...

Namaste....
I think we all have such episodes with garments. Perhaps when i gain the courage one day I will tell my most embrassing experience with such an event.

Enjoy the rest of your week

MKERALAM said...

Meera S,

May be it is because of this problem, men these days wear a kind of half-pants usually lined and colourful beneath their dothi. In almost all Malayalam films released these days you can see its promotion-characters wearing mundu going freely because of its protection.

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