It's that time of the year.
Tis' the time for reminiscing with a steaming hot cup of coffee, while snow storms rage on and temperatures drop to alarmingly low levels.
But being the freak that I am, I started reminiscing about a hitherto ignored aspect of Tamil culture; the unsung hero of traditional outfits: the snazzy Lungi.
Yes, you heard me right, I said Lungi, and I am proud of this fashion-forward garment, and what it represents.
Allow me to elucidate.
Picture yourself on the roads of Chennai. Look around you. From the milkman, to the dhobhi-wallah, to the incongruous uncle on the street dragging his reluctant kid to school, there is one key element which binds them all, THE LUNGI.
Why? Simply because the lungi is one of the most comfortable garments ever.
I don't need to wear one to know that it's comfortable.
I may be digressing here, but I have to describe the lungi for you unenlightened beings.
Think dhoti, but made with a cheaper material and with *ahem* 'interesting' colors and patterns.
What is so unambiguous about the lungi, you ask?
First and most cardinal, NOTHING is more comfortable than a piece of cloth, when worn properly resembles a sack with a hole cut out in the bottom for feet to come through.
I mean how nifty is that? Its one of those ideas where you go "Now why didn’t I think of that?"
But that is where the brilliance lies. Who would look at a sack and say "Aha….if only people could wear something as shapeless as that, and I can just cut out the bottom...ummm." AND proceed to act upon that stroke of brilliance?
I also have to give kudos to the natty patterns on the lungi. I can safely say that you will NEVER see those patterns on any other boring garments we wear today.
I mean, how about the most famous pattern; thick slate grey and blue checks?
Now really I for one wouldn't have come up with an innovative color combination like that. Being the predictable creature that I am, I would have paired slate grey with red: a bright color with a staple color.
But the lungi designer is one step ahead of us. Knowing that the aam junta of Tamilnadu wears this garment to work, he has paired two solid colors: grey and blue, giving the garment a crisp, professional and polished look (Look at pic for reference) :
As for the other patterns, the Mallu's(sorry, no hard feelings) have made a mockery of the lungi design. Mixing atrocious magenta with green, orange with yellow, I mean come on? Subtlety anyone?
But, that being said, the Mallu's are one step ahead of us. I have seen several women in Kerala, happily wearing lungi's and I cant help but burn with jealousy looking at their fashion-forwardness.
Now I know some of you might be gagging now, I mean come on...WOMEN wearing lungi's?
But that is where the male of the species have scored, women, big time.
We have been given the short end of the stick yet again, by the men.
What garment do we have, to contest the lungi?
Definitely not the darnded sari, which is a six yard long peice of cloth, meant to be tucked in 500 different places in complicated angles, and the end result makes you feel like you've been embalmed and mummified.
Walking in the sari is an event in itself. Try walking in it without looking like an upright fish, thrashing around for dear life.
How about the mental trauma you go through while wearing the saree? On top of the torture of wearing the saree itself, you are constantly in a state of vexation and anxiety as to whether it will fall apart or not, and last but definitely not the least, it is THE single most revealing outfit ever. Not to mention, you are putting yourself out there as bait for the roadside-romeos who will gleefully accost you with shouts of "Aaja mere gaadi mein beit ja chamiya"(come hither sit in my car hot stuff) or "vaa di yean kapa-kazhangu........yean kapa-kazhangu"( come here my hot root vegetable or something as bawdy as that).
Come on women. I feel your pain. I know that you deserve better. And THAT is where the lungi comes in.
How convenient is the lungi? Being the cylindrical garment that it is, you can easily put it on, tie it in a knot around your waist and forget about it. Tying a knot is not your thing? No problemo! Pair it with a spiffy bohemian belt and you're good to go!
The Mallu lungi can also be worn by women to keep away pesky road romeos. Nothing on heaven or earth can match the obnoxiousness of the patterns on a Mallu lungi, and rest assured NO ONE would want to heckle you. You might attract looks of derision however, but it is a small price to pay for anonymity and comfort.
For you club hopping girls, nothing I repeat, nothing is as versatile as the lungi. Have you seen the average rickshaw-wallah in the middle of the afternoon? He would have folded his lungi in half to beat the heat, and there you have it: The desi MINI-SKIRT.
Imagine the looks youll get when you are strutting your stuff in a lungi folded in half, jazzed up with a belt and high heels.
What Indians dont realise is that, with the versatility of the lungi, we can give the fashion houses of the world a run for their money.
Pshaw at Gucci, Prada and Chanel for their arduous and convulted styles!
So join me fellow Indians, in venerating the unmarred lungi. There should be a bill passed in the houses of parliament to honor the lungi as the most conventional and versatile outfit of India, nothing more nothing less.
Whoever you are O' illustrious designer of the lungi, I salute thee.
Post Script: Comments from the Support the Sari Foundation and The Association of Insensitive Men Who Have Nothing Better to Do Than to Advocate the Pseudo Elegant Sari, will be mercilessly trashed.