Heritage,  Sarees

My Saree Stories: Part 3

Summer has transitioned to the much awaited monsoons. Romance is in the air. A compilation of some more of my saree stories.

Saree#21: A summery cotton saree with applique work

My other sarees go into hibernation or aestivation (depending upon the fabric!) for years together. But every summer I make it a point to wear this white and blue applique embroidered cotton saree at least once. Interestingly applique started as a way to patch up worn out or torn sections of clothes. And see what a sought after style it has become!

I have begun to look forward to these morning photo shoots. And the crazy banter with the hubby is something I treasure. You can see the effect in these pictures. These are imperfect but remind me of some warm moments. After all it is the imperfections which keep us grounded and humane.

Saree#22: A Jamdani saree with swarna sika motifs

As I pulled out this huge colourful umbrella from the closet, memories of another monsoon weekend came tumbling out.

2010. Both of us were conducting a workshop in Pune one Friday. And we made an instant plan to go to Lonavala to experience its much talked about monsoon charm.

Alas it started out disastrously. The romantic hotel that was booked online turned out to be ghastly in reality. And my mood went out of the window for a toss. Hubby saw the darkening clouds on the horizon and said let’s go out and watch a nau se barah movie. Just anything to escape that hotel room and keep me smiling.

We stepped out on the unfamiliar streets of Lonavala trying to find the cinema hall when it began to rain. Nay. Pour. And we had never experienced such a downpour before. We tried to find shelter under the awnings of some stores when we spotted this fellow selling umbrellas. I didn’t want to miss the beginning of the movie and the rain didn’t look like it would slow down. So we bought this large colourful umbrella which could fit both of us together. And we splashed through the puddles together until we reached the cinema hall, cuddled for cover from the monsoon Gods. All the while my head was playing the tune of ‘Pyaar hua ikraar hua hai, pyaar se phir kyon darta hai dil‘ on the loop.

The next morning we found ourselves eating garmagaram corn pakoras with our head literally within the clouds. Just about escaped being blown off the cliff in that strong breeze, though the pakoras kept flying off!

To celebrate that misty head in the clouds, heart full of love feeling I dressed in this cotton Jamdani with swarna sika motifs. Although besides gold this one has coin shaped butis also in red, black and green

Saree #23: The Chettinad Cotton Saree

Some days are meant to go haywire. Got up late as I had a sleepless night. Because an idea kept me awake and I wrote until four in the morning. Woke up bleary eyed, only to hear Subodh warning me that there could be no saree photographs as he had to leave early for the OPD. Dressed in this Chettinad cotton saree and managed to get ready before he had exited the house. So he clicked some pics very half-heartedly.

I had hoped my well-draped starched saree and ikkat blouse would allow me to sail through the super-fast photo shoot. But I looked like a wet chicken in all the pics with my wet hair plastered all over my scalp. One look at my glum face and he knew that none of his clicks had got past approval stage. “Don’t worry I will click more at lunch when your hair is dry.” he says calmly as he waves bye to me.

Fifteen minutes later I scamper to my scooter in an attempt to reach work in time. Office is only a five minute drive away as we stay on campus. But life is so unfair. I hadn’t peeped out of the window before I chose a cotton saree. But now a steady drizzle has picked up. I take a risk and think I can reach department quickly before it rains harder.

Big drops of rain make big wet splotches on my blue saree. Right in the middle of the narrow road leading to the department I find a new driver in a brand new car without a registration number trying to reverse. He’s effectively blocked the road and vehicles are waiting. I’m worried. Not about punching late at the biometric device, but about the falling raindrops causing designer patterns on my saree.

Finally I reach the gate only to find Smita Ma’am there. Surprise, surprise… she’s in a maroon saree and like me, with wet hair. “I dressed as I have a lecture. You know where the saree inspiration is coming from!” she says and we grin. She offers to click pictures when she hears my story. At least she’s wearing maroon. But my blue starched cotton saree is now looking like as wilted as a soiled rag.

Work gets busier as we have a practical examination happening. I don’t get to meet Subodh at lunch. I return at 5.30 and he remembers that he’d promised to click pictures. But in this crumpled saree!

“Don’t worry! You’ll have a crumpled saree story to share.” he says. And my grin brightens up a dark and dreary evening. 

Saree #24: A Kovai Cotton Saree and the beginning of a trend

Yesterday I decided not to repeat the mistake of wearing a light coloured saree on a rain-washed day again. So I chose this black Coimbatore cotton saree and paired it with a Khunn blouse. But there was a big problem.

On Wednesday morning I was walking towards the hospital, when THADDDAK… I tripped over two slippery steps. I twisted my right ankle really badly. Two thoughts came to my mind almost simultaneously. Even before I managed to get up by grabbing the nearest wall.

The first thought was of Vaidehi Marathe. Her recent fracture and all the posts which told her ‘nazar lag gayi‘! Stop being superstitious, you idiot, I told myself.

But the bigger worry was this. I had sprained the same ankle thrice before. And two years ago I had fractured my fibula in the same leg. Not again. Please God.

I gingerly got up and tested my weight bearing abilities. I seemed ok though a little shaken by the impact of the fall. I walked on slowly and found Subodh in the OPD on my way. He looked at my ankle and said it would be fine. So I went ahead and finished whatever task I had come for. But by noon I could feel my foot swelling up in my sandals painfully. Since I was near the Orthopedics OPD I got examined and radiographed. Thankfully except for the old healed fracture, everything was fine. But I was limping painfully big time. Wear shoes, said my orthopedician.

“So what happens to your saree programme now?” asked my husband when we got home. “Why? A saree is the easiest thing to wear if you have a bandage over your foot. Easier than tearing up salwar ends at least. And I’m only limping. Nothing changes!”

“But the shoes?” “Who says you cannot wear sarees with sneakers? Some women have already started the trend. And my inspiration is a seventy one year old diva who wears Kanjeevaram sneakers!” Who? Find out here.

Saree#25: A khadi silk saree with kantha embroidery

A few years ago I was waiting at Mumbai airport for my flight, my nose buried in the plot of a Jeffrey Archer. When suddenly a small soft hand touched my arm. I looked up to see a little boy of five or six, about to burst into tears.
“Aunty, I’m not able to find my mummy.” he said.

I looked around me to see if I could spot any young woman who seemed to be hunting for someone. But the airport was pretty crowded that afternoon.

“What’s the colour of the saree your mom is wearing?” I asked the child. He stared at me blankly. “Where are you travelling to? Where is your home?” I tried again. “Rajkot.” he said.

I took him to the Indigo counter where the flight to Rajkot was being displayed and spoke to the airline staff. They made an announcement.

A few minutes later I saw a young mother reunite with her son. She was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt.

I smiled to myself thinking how quickly I had stereotyped mummies! It is true that my mother wore nothing but sarees. But the present generation of mothers wore everything they were comfortable in. Sarees were not necessarily travel friendly. No wonder the poor kid looked so confused at my question!

That leads me to think, do we, like our mothers buy sarees to wear at home any longer? I might buy sarees which look less dressy or formal and toned down. But I can’t think of any saree which I’ve chosen as a ghar ki saree. Each saree is picked with love and care to be showcased on some occasion. And so I believe that every saree, however ordinary, needs to be celebrated.

Dressed in a very simple khadi silk for an ordinary day’s work. But even this one gifted to me, has been aesthetically embroidered with Kantha stitches.

Saree#26: A tussar silk with Madhubani block prints

The weekend getway to Aurangabad had been planned a month in advance. I didn’t expect to slip and sprain my ankle three days before the trip. But I was desperate for a break and so decided to go as planned.

Compared to hot and sweaty Sevagram, Aurangabad was green and rain washed. I couldn’t resist stopping for some spicy bhutta near the ghats. I limped all the way up the rocky caves of Ellora on this rain drenched day. Felt triumphant that I had conquered my fear of stumbling on rocky terrain.

This morning Subodh told me that the skies were clear and I dared to wear a yellow silk saree, hoping it would stand out on a grey day. I couldn’t get saree pics in Ellora, but I was looking forward to some in Bibi ka Maqbara. My ankle was shaky but not painful now.

Alas, the moment we reached the 300 year old water mill (the Panchakki) it began to pour. There was a guide called Alim, who grabbed Subodh’s mobile and clicked some stunning pics. Next we went to Bibi ka Maqbara, which was built in memory of Aurangzeb’s wife Rabia-ud-Daurani. Interestingly she died during childbirth while delivering her fifth child. She is Mumtaz Mahal’s daughter in law. Remember Mumtaz Mahal died while bearing her fourteenth child. Couldn’t help but think of the sorry fate of these women.

My photo options at Bibi ka Maqbara were completely dissolved in the pouring rain. And then there were youngsters photo bombing all the nice pics. The silk saree clung to my body, and the pallu looked like a limp snake dragging along. Now a wet saree suits someone like Zeenat Aman or Mandakini who has contours to flaunt. But I looked obscene in the wet saree pics and deleted them all. Subodh vetoed all my pics with the umbrella saying my face wasn’t seen in the shadows. All along the thought of a washed out day made my temperature rise and Subodh was having a tough time handling my bad mood. Came back to the hotel to discover that the raised temperature was actually fever, after being soaked in the rain all afternoon.

BTW, the tussar silk saree I’m wearing has Madhubani motifs in block prints. The tall triangular peaks lining the lower end of the saree was unusual enough to make me buy it.

Saree#27: A South cotton saree with a cool blouse

It is one thing to walk on the path that you are familiar with. But to step out of your comfort zone and take a risk with something that is not so familiar requires courage. Sometimes it could be leaving a cushy job and jumping into a new territory. It might feel like splashing your arms in the deep end of a swimming pool. Remember, then you are not bothered about what the naysayers say, but are struggling to survive. And the thrill of achievement always lies in zones out of your comfort. Time to take the plunge and go where your heart wants to go!

Almost symbolically I dared to wear a colour I’m just not comfortable wearing. Too loud for me- my head said. But then this South cotton saree almost seemed to beseech itself to be worn with this blouse. So I conceded! 

Saree #28 : A printed silk saree with hieroglyphics pattern

When we were just married the initial arguments were about the fan. I wanted the fan at full speed, and he wanted to tone down the regulator to lesser levels. When I reluctantly compromised, he wanted me to shuffle from fan to no-fan mode. The saree clad bahu in me with some extra layers of adipose tissue now turned into rebel mode.

You know how it is. Just like the fight for the arm rest in the cinema hall with a relative stranger in the next seat. If you put down your guard one moment you will spend the rest of the movie sitting with your arms tucked between your knees. You know you have to be on the offensive from the time the advertisements start.

Twenty years after matrimony you would have expected the communication and adjustment to improve. But things remain the same. Only we have shifted from fan to air conditioner. The control over the remote is most important. When I go to sleep the temperature is at 23. I wake up in a hot sweat in the middle of the night, only to find that he has raised the temperature to 28. Ugh! Now you wait!

I cover myself with a thin blanket and lower the temperature to freezing. And pretend to sleep unaware, waiting for the next reaction! You wanted Tropical. I will take you to Arctic Circle!

And so the argument continues! Sometimes I wonder whether we communicate with each other in hieroglyphics. There is no meeting ground!

These crazy thoughts reminded me of this printed silk saree with hieroglyphics motifs all over. But I’m still in demure innocent mode, you see! 

Saree#29: A Linen Saree

This saree is a blended cotton embellished with small sequins all over. I loved the tassels and coloured bands on the pallu. And decided to pair it with a Swarovski pendant and earrings gifted by Subodh on my birthday a few years ago. And then had classmates calling me names from Mamata didi to Mother Teresa!

Saree #30: The Chanderi Saree

What’s life without a lottle (Yes, that’s my version of a lot of little!) romance?!! Humans, birds and animals all need some romance. Enjoy some pictures I clicked of a plum-headed parakeet wooing its partner here. It took so much effort to kootchie-koo before he got the big kiss! 

Today’s saree is an onion peel coloured Chanderi with my favourite block prints. Paired with pink pearls. Chanderi sarees are woven in Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh. They are soft, light weight and very comfortable to wear. Chanderi is a small town which is also making waves as the film Stree was shot here. Catch up with it if you haven’t. It is really funny. And then you can visualize saree clad witches here!

Wait for more saree stories. I will be back!

My Saree Stories: Part 1
My Saree Stories: Part 2

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