“ POOJA !! Wake up Wake up !! I’m late again . Could you plea.. “
She didn’t have to complete it .We both know the drill .
“ AMMA !!!! “ , I would scowl and fight my fluffy flannel to get off the bed.
Annoying Dr.Seema Pradeep is ALWAYS late . Everyday morning she moves in and around the house like a shape-shifter . She wakes up at 6:00am , whiles away her time snuggling the rest of the Pradeeps till like 6:45 am and then realizes she is running late and starts her ruckus . Such a riot I tell you !!
One such morning ,
“ Pooja ! Could you please get me the black Saree from my cupboard?! “
“ Yeah ! “ , I dragged myself upstairs with drool decorated face and opened her cupboard .
WOW !!! ( gets struck by the cupid arrow downpour , yet again , for the umpteenth time !! )
Since time immemorial I’ve been the daughter who gapes at her mother draping herself in six yards of rustling grandeur and looking like elegance personified . When I used to be a little girl , I used to apparently take her dupatta which used to suffice as a saree due to decreased surface area then , wrap it around and tuck it into my boy short and walk around like a boss wearing Amma’s jewellery !
“ Which one of your black sarees Amma ?! You’ve at least 56 in here !! “ , I snorted , looking through her magnificent collection of chanderis , banaresis , rich cotton , jute silks , tussar silks , crepes , kalamkaris , raw silks , maheshwaris , kota , chiffon , georgette , kanjeevarams . Ah !! That’s all I can list for now . I’m busy doting on the exquisite embroidery , the lavish weaves , the intricate gotta and those surreal prints and paints . Such beauty , all on one stretch of grace !!
“ The one with the ….uhmm … Nevermind ! I’ll get it . “
She knew it would be a waste of time . Her love for sarees gave her way too many options which she is shamelessly so proud of !! Her earned harmless vanity always made me look up to her style . Desi Swag is a rarity I tell you !! There was this one time when a foreigner stopped her at a mall and asked her where she could get the black tissue saree she was wearing ; times when she would step in saree emporiums to get herself something kick ass and all the sales personnel would be enquiring where she got the one she was wearing then ; occasions when all the aunts would fall on her with profound adulation and some who give her those bitchstares because her saree is come what may the one that catches all eyes ; times when Soorya and I accidentally keep staring at Amma because she wouldn’t just stop looking so beautiful wearing her culture so pompously !!
She drapes herself in less than a minute in what she picked up and PUFF ! She’s off to save the world !!
“ Ewww . SAREE !!?? Why can’t we just wear jeans ??!! Or dresses ??!! “
“ DUDE ! I HAVE TO WEAR A SAREE TOMORROW AND LOOK ALL AUNTY “
“ Saree makes me look so old and fat man !! “
That’s one end of the world . The other sounds like :
“ Time to go all backless !! Woohoo !! “
“ Man !!I need to get abs dude . Also wax !! Saree time !! “
“ It’s ethnic day. Let’s all be HOT & SEXY !! “
Apart from the shibboleth of the saree either being the clichéd oldie look or it being a tool to go scandalous with the skin showcase, I doubt women today really understand the character of what they want themselves to be enveloped in ! The eternal beauty of the saree is going to be a fable soon enough . The trait of admiring our culture as it is, is fading into a blur . We’re all so busy trying to catch up with the fads and fashions of everything that isn’t Indian , we forget to embrace what is ours , what is bestowed by our greats and what we’re engineered to pull off !! If only you would allow me to explain the difference between modernisation and westernisation and convince you that they are different beings altogether !!
NO !! I’m not a Sareenazi ! Haha , I simply , blindly , madly love them. A loyal aficionado you can say . . And NO !! I don’t want you to love them as much either . But I want you to see why I love them so !!
Somehow over the years , being a south indian ( eccentric dance moves there , because we’re blessed with silks and kanjeevarams in our veins ) , I’ve developed the knack of differentiating between someone who carries the saree off in its ideal way from those the sarees carry !! Those women have that poise , an aura of femininity so divine , it’s indestructible . A striking example would be my Mom or my to be mother-in-law , but bah , y’all unfortunately don’t know those girls . Rekha Ganesan , aka Umrao Jaan of Bollywood , is someone you know however. Her love for Kanjeevaram as showcased in every public appearance of hers has left media and celebrity policing awestruck . Vidya Balan is my other favourite !! These two are testimonies to the fact that there’s no other garment that adapts to a woman’s sensuality and celebrate womanhood as much as the saree .
Also , for that matter , indian wear for women in general like churidhars , ghagra cholis , kurtas , salwar kameez , all of them suffered an abysmal fall in 2001 , leaving the handloom industry and the weavers suffering from the aftermath of the blind westernisation , fading into an oblivion due to the declining patronage and an onslaught of growing popularity for embroidered sarees like georgettes and chiffons which left weaver communities all over the country mired in debt traps , uncertainty and hunger deaths . After a lot of painstaking years , eminent zealous designers took up the cause of reviving our own traditional handlooms and bringing “Indian” back in vogue as witnessed with couture brands quirking ethnic wear up and fashion weeks endorsing the indo -western fusion look . Thank god for that ; and Global Desi of course!!
Oh yes , I do wear crop tops and high-waisted shorts , distressed ripped jeans and oversized shirts , bralettes and culouttes with blazers and capes . All of them radiate style and class and panache .
BUT , a saree ! Ah ( wipes euphoric tears ) , someone please pass me tissues .
Potpuorri of these thoughts kept me busy until one fine day, I come across Malavika Mohanan’s , The Scarlet Window . An enthralling blog about her love for ” The Art of Indianism ” and all things ethnic and how she’s worried about pretty much the same things ! Mallus be such bros , I tell you !! I keep yapping about her effortless elegance , as vividly seen in every pixel of her portraits , to every single friend of mine , especially the photographer lot , especially the favourite one of mine ….
“ JAMEER ?! I HAVE AN IDEA !! “
“ SO DO I POOJA !! “
Ah , the photographer – subject resonance we share is just blissful .
Mohamed Jameer , who needs no introduction in VIT University, Tamil Nadu or my ginormous family with his astounding clicks at my engagement hullaballoo , is to the world , an ingenious photographer who captures momentary brilliance that makes the capture even more ethereal than reality itself ( Yea , I know . Deep stuff !! ) , apart from the biomedical engineer he’s soon to be ; and to me , a close friend , a brother and a significant part of my extended family .
I’ve known Jameer right from my dancing days in my third year of engineering at VIT, when he was a fresher then, just into the photography club . He had uploaded a picture of mine the next day which I fell in love with almost instantaneously . It’s a habit now though , sinking into an abyss of awe looking into his photographs !! Since then , it’s been 4 years almost . He’s a best friend today and of course the President of the Photography Club at VIT University ! His work ( https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mohamed-Jameer-Photography/256809037773268?fref=ts ) is worth your time and more . His taste in freezing time at its crucial nanosecond is what I adore the most , apart from the good-hearted ball of a human he is of course !!
What were we talking about again?!
Ah ! The Saree !! ( forgive my ADHD !! )
The saree’s obituary is feared to be premature, though its renaissance isn’t surely complete !! It’s amazing how the same 6 yards of cloth can make you look beautiful , sexy , elegant , classy , sexy , hot and edgy . Haven’t I covered a range of looks already ??!! Indian clothing , especially the saree, is extremely versatile ! It flatters the wearer, doesn’t judge between a thin or a curvaceous figure( provided you choose the right fabric ) and instead lends both dignity and sensuousness . It is indeed the perfect tease !! Now, Indian designers are focusing their energy on reconstructing traditional Indian ethnic silhouettes for an increasingly younger demographic. From saree-gown to half-length lehenga , to teaming up sarees with shirts , tunics , bikinis , jeans , straps ; there are a lot of interesting , potential grandma-heartattack options nowadays.
When I popped the idea of a fashion blog focusing on indian wear , sarees mostly , 4 out of 5 sighed a nay .
“ There’s not much you can do !! Your lookbook is limited !! “
DID YOU JUST HEAR WHAT I DID ??!!
I giggled .
“ JAMEER !?! “
“ POOJA !?! “
“ LET’S DO THIS !! “
My taste in these small joys of life developed meteorically when Amma decided to get Soorya ( my oh-so-beautiful-Freida Pinto-lookalike sister ) and I, our first ever Indian suits and took us to her designer , Mr.Tariq who owns Ethnic Design Studio in Calicut , Kerala . I had secretly drawn what I had in mind on a piece of paper but didn’t show it to anybody . When he kept asking me what I wanted I had a clear idea though . But I forgot a detail and I shabbily took out the crumpled piece of paper from my little purse and kept checking it when he caught me in the act .
“This is good Pooja !! Your detailing is commendable“ , he commented !!
I smiled wide and bright !!
Amma was impressed too . She came and told dad and he seemed happy as well . He still insists I open my own boutique someday . ( That is my post retirement plan . Shhh ! Don’t tell anybody yet ). Soorya scowled though , because I didn’t do the designing bit for her suit . Haha !!
Ever since that day , I think I was in Std IX then , I’ve been designing my own indian fairytales and for a lot many significant other . Tariq Uncle till date helps me in my fabric detailing and gives me qualitative inputs with regard to stitching and fabric selection .Things took off from that point ; with having to design my indian outfits right from the time I stitched my first patiala suit at Ethnic ; all those innumerable blouse designs to a lot of friends and cousins ; being my own wedding planner ; getting Rushil’s and my ensembles done by frantically parading through happening streets of Mumbai ; watching how Rushil’s mother ( Mummy , my abiological one ) and Amma behave like hyperexcited high school girls in their shared love for similar taste of sarees and their exquisite collection of them from all over India ; praying to Sabyasachi Mukherjee every day morning , OD-ing occasssionaly on his hypnotic Opium Dream Collection from two years back at the Couture week, and also gaping at my instagram newsfeed from the Papa Don’t Preach updates with their quirky and fun jacket cholis , bra blouses , net sarees filled with sequins and all things bling ; watching Gaurang Shah save our country’s tradition and its handloom industry with his tasteful mixing of fabrics in creating extra-ordinary sarees with a contemporary touch and let’s not forget Anita Dongre’s bespoke whimsical gotta bridal lehengas !!
SUCH LOVE I HAVE NEVER FELT BEFORE !! Orgasmic much ??!!
So here’s to a new series of blogposts , to my love for sarees , bindis , curves and waists , anklets , backless cholis , jhumkas , braids , gorgeous ghagras , them dainty dori hangings , bangles , smudged kohl winged eyes ,vintage jewellery , loose curls … to everything which is the present , ours , feminine and ethnic !!
Here’s to the overwhelming response to the blog so far !!
Here’s to my collaboration with Mohamed Jameer Photography !!
Here’s to Celebrating Indian !!
Six Yards of Love !!
PS – Someone once actually had the audacity to ask me , “ SAREE ??!! INDIAN ??!! What is wrong with you ?! You’re a hip hop dancer !! “ [ #FaceTectonicPlate ]
PPS – I am actually planning on wearing a saree for my first dinner date at our honeymoon to Turkey scheduled this December !! Just for the horror ( claps like a retarded seal ) !! Those boring cocktail dresses and goddess gowns need a break . Thank god Rushil never gets time to read my blogs . Surprise ( read as terror ) shall remain a secret !! YAY !!