A few years ago, I asked my sister and her daughter a very simple question: "Do girls wear half-saris anymore?"
I would never have imagined the response I got: I was laughed out. The niece just couldn't stop laughing, and commented that my memories of India were stuck in some prehistoric times.
Even after that unintentionally funny episode, I find it hard to imagine Tamil Nadu's teenage girls not wearing half-saris. It will be like the French (men, too) without the capris. Or, the US without, oh wait, bad example :)
Back in my high school days, my girl classmates had a choice between wearing half-saris or churidars. I am pretty confident about this, my selective amnesia notwithstanding. I suppose I have always had a soft corner for the half-saris :)
Whenever we went to grandma's homes, of course, the young women in those small towns wore the traditional half-saris. No question of churidars. Thirty years later, churidars have invaded even the remotest villages of Tamil Nadu.
Thus, I had given up this whole half-sari thing after I became the punchline myself.
And then it happened.
Two other boys, wearing shorts, were a couple of steps behind, and it seemed like the four were a group. They were talking and playing, while walking.
I observe my own sense of whether or not it will be kosher to take photos of people in public places. Even though being out in common areas means that we give up privacy, I feel odd taking photos of strangers like this. Especially when they are not adults.
So, I stood at the road's edge and let them pass me. I then clicked from behind; after all, my interest was only in this interplay between tradition and modernity.
(Though, the school could have gone for some other better color combination!)
Again, I let the girls pass me, and then I quickly clicked.
Only later when I reviewed that shot did I notice the young girl in a pinafore uniform, and the dhoti-clad boy also in the same frame. Makes it all the more an excitingly complex set of images.
Anyway, the half-sari is alive, after all!
Should I update my niece? :)