Monday, January 30, 2012

Three times the excitement: three girls in half-saris :)

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. 

I was wandering about one evening here in Chennai, when I saw a couple of boys wearing the traditional white dhotis, but with backpacks across their shoulders.  Pretty interesting juxtaposition, I thought. 

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.

Well, as I watched them pass, I saw three girls only a few steps behind those boys, and these girls were wearing half-sari school uniforms. 

How exciting! 

(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? :)


archana said...

I am from Coimbatore and I had Half Saree as the school uniform from class 9 to 12. It was weird back then because even the government schools had changed the dress code to chudidar. Now after 13 years, it does not seem bad. All my friends have a good laugh looking at the photos from those days.

Sriram Khé said...

I did my undergraduate at Coimbatore ... so, always with a soft spot for that place and, therefore, delighted all the more with your comment

Indu said...

how i wish the girls still wore that.. it was a brief stage, but so beautiful the emotions captured in that half sari - i could speak a madisar length about that stage. To me it was symbollic of adolescence - the excitement of the boys stealing glances - couldnt wait to get into a sari once in a while; but quickly slip back into the excuse of childhood (half-sari)... quite a few moments etched for posterity in my own 'museum of innocence'. I am sure more men and women my age think the same, reminiscing the lives that they lived ; the rushes they felt running thro them - as boys and girls. I wouldnt trade that for anything else. The salwar kameez is an apology as a substitute. Ofcourse, my daughter wouldnt wear a half sari. Two of my nieces very recently wore the half sari ofcourse the half sari age has become much younger now -natural process of evolution, I guess. In pockets, the half sari tradition continues - Thank God!

Sriram Khé said...

Oh, hey, how did you get to this post that is a year-and-a-half old? ;)

yes, I suppose we are of that age-group, of that generation growing up in a certain time frame, when we associate half-saris with adolescence and glances and growing up and, at least in my case, a whole lot of angst!

a friend/schoolmate in India tells me that the half-sari is now a fashionable attire to wear--but, only on occasions. the evolution ...

Anonymous said...

Hey I'm frm that school....and very proud about the fact that I'm an ahobalian!!yes I used to hate that school for the uniform...but now how i wish I could go back to school!! feeling nostalgic😰 nd happy with the memories at the same tym😃

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