Saturday, February 03, 2007

Of saris .. arranged marriages .. and other things Indian

Had the chance to indulge in what id easily term an exotic experience .. drape saris for Jo and Ali .. both lovely Australian ladies from P&G ... (story behind this is tonight is hen's party for an Indian brand manager and all these enthusiastic women have put together a whole Bollywood dance training evening with actual naach gaana at a popular local bollywood club :) ) .. the clincher being there aren't too many Indian girls they know who can drape saris very easily .. and those who do weren't available ... so Vidya Murthy ma'am asked me and i jumped at the chance!!! :-)

So i trudged along to Vidyas house this afternoon .. not knowing what to expect ... would they carry safety pins? would they carry everything it needs to hold the sari up? would they like a 'khulla panna' (the classic elegant style of leaving the end of the sari open on ones arm) or would they prefer pleats (arguably less elegant looking but def much more manageable - esp for 1st timers) ... well when we CMkers dont know any better .. we just call the consumer the boss and let her decide .. so thats exactly what i did :)

Jo turned up huffing and apologetic for being late .. but then so was i .. anyone who expects a woman to turn up post packing of any kind at any place has to be half mad .. so i did ensure i set out for the place later than promised :) (takes one to know one right?)

Turns out draping a sari is much easier than id expected .. find the fall .. drape once ... pleat the end ... loop around once and pin it to the shoulder ... pleat the middle and tuck into the skirt (even my tam bram sister wore cycling shorts instead of the classical "pavadai" for her wedding .. and here these women were wearing authentic indian sari skirts!) and lo and behold the sari is done!!! Ive never done this for myself or neone else in the 5 minutes it took me today!! Am still wondering if these women r just incredibly cooperative vs indian women who know exactly how they want it to look and wont give up trying to re drape until theyre quite satisfied !:-) ... Alison was next .. took all of 5 minutes for her too :-) .. and u shouldve seen the smiles on their faces .. WOW! they looked positively elated to be in saris ... they even had the enthu to have bought matching accessories (something i didnt start to do until i made acquaintance with the very coordinated Prerna Arora in 2002 :-))

And so we sat post that waiting for Murthy ma'am to turn up so they could all leave together for Supriyas hens nite ... and we drifted from one topic to another and as is expected ended up on the very intriguing topic of arranged marriages ... pretty ordinary and common place to indians but a source of much thought and questioning for westerners ...

I did realize however, that the concept has been exposed to the P&G non indian crowd in its most urbanized form .. as an alternative to being single for life or meeting ur own life partner ... more like a family set dating service than the sad and pathetic practice a lot of people see it as being ... jo mentioned a book named 'holy cow' which describes (pretty realistically apparently) an australian womans adventures in the land of elephants and snake charmers :) .. that was her source of knowing that arranged marriages can sometimes mean meeting ur spouse for life at the altar for the very 1st time ... as much as the idea sends goosebumps up her skin .. it does the same to me as well!!!

Im not sure how long it takes to detach oneself from the reality that is "Class B towns and below" india .. and im not sure if its the function of the education or living abroad so long ... some practices now feel very very alien .. dowry, arranged marriages with no chance to measure compatibility, women eating left overs once the men in the family have eaten, intercaste and inter religious marriages being a horrendously big deal, stay at home mothers being treated like illiterate bums just coz they dont bring in money to the household... and so on ..

While some other concepts that were esrtwhile alien now feel very very comfortable ... like stay at home dads, women not knowing how to cook, non spoilt men who can take care of themselves just fine, treating alcohol with the casualness it deserves (unless ur getting addicted), pre martial sex (im not condoning it - i just stopped thinking of it as "wrong") ... and so on ...

Not quite sure if my post had a point ... but as Sharmili wud say .. if ur looking for one each time u read .. then too bad for u :DD


Shahana said...

I had such a blast reading all of them almost first thing in the morning! made my day :-) Keep em comin..

unpredictable said...

hey sha! thanksss !! im a lil busy this week with art of living taking up 3 hrs each evening .. so will start again over the weekend ... gr8 to see u drop by ! :D

Sharmili said...

well... of course it had a point... :))))))))))
saree.. ummm... never my cup of tea anyway....
send some pics na... of the ones u draped and u :))))))))