As the wedding season approaches, a frenetic shopping pace sets in. While owners of silk saree shops in Namma Bengaluru rub their hands in anticipation of brisk business, the very ‘discerning’ shoppers wouldn’t be caught dead in anything other than the trendiest silken gossamer weaves. So, like-minded female friends and relatives gang up, share a hired car, and drive down all the way to sweltering Kanchipuram for a marathon saree-picking day trip.
Recently, a well-meaning female relative (WMFR) queried me on my own preparations for an upcoming wedding in my extended family. Here’s a sampling of the generous tips she doled out:
WMFR: Buy a good saree. Wear big pieces of jewellery. Do you have big jhumkis?
Me, caught unawares and feeling a little poor: No, not big, medium-sized.
WMFR, consolingly: That’s fine. Wear them. Pin your hair back for the muhurtha.
Me, a little miffed: Errr… I prefer leaving my hair loose.
WMFR, authoritatively: You should leave it loose for the reception. Pin it back for the muhurtha so the jhumkis are seen. Wear the gold waist-chain your grandmother gifted you.
Me, wearily: Oh, that’ll be too showy and I am worried it may fall off without my knowledge.
WMFR, now chiding: When will you ever wear them? You should, on such occasions! This seemingly innocuous but unsolicited advice probably has its basis in the fact that I am marked in family circles for repeating my silks on more than one occasion, and not adorning myself with ‘enough’ jewellery.
I’m in awe of the elephantine memories of relatives who cry out in utter dismay, “Oh, why are you wearing the same saree you wore for your son’s naamakarana? And, if I am attired in a brand new saree,
“Couldn’t you have bought a grander one?”
“You should’ve paired this necklace with a heavy, long chain... this doesn’t stand out.”
While I like dressing up for occasions, I don’t fancy turning myself into a veritable walking, talking Christmas tree!
As a software marketer for 15 years, I did turn up well-dressed to work as my job necessitated it. Now that I have little or no association with the corporate world, I minimise new purchases while making sure I am well-turned-out for occasions.
I have a healthy respect for individual shopping and dressing-up preferences. Nevertheless, silk sarees cost an arm and a leg, and I am no Imelda Marcos to never repeat a saree, a piece of gold jewellery or an accessory after having paid through my nose for the purchase.
To that end, I’d rather invest in a cornucopia of far more personally fulfilling pursuits such as treating myself to a pair of new running shoes, a stash of good books, a holiday in the mountains to wake up to the calls of the Malabar whistling thrush, or indulging my weakness for yet another alluring piece of antique Chettinad furniture that good old Palani of Pondicherry faithfully apprises me of.
Of late, I find myself increasingly drawn to rich-hued handloom cotton sarees of more peaceful origins, painstakingly created by traditional weavers. A nicely tailored Kalamkari blouse to go along, and one is most tastefully attired.
Inspired, I pull out my purportedly outdated, but in my eyes resplendent, silk wedding sarees from15 years ago.
With a bit of airing, ironing and trendy new blouses, these old beauties should help me hold my own at the wedding.
As for the scrutiny and cloaked remarks, I have grown a thicker skin. I will never be sorry for not emptying my pockets on a new silk saree. And why, oh why, just to leave it forgotten in my wardrobe for several years after one wear.