Friday, December 12, 2014

Down Memory Lane

My mother found it very difficult to wrap her mind around my later day dressing sense, especially cotton clothes.
In the Ahmedabad where I have lived for over four decades, cotton is the norm, summer and winter – just thinner or thicker.  And Ma lived her life in silks, satins, chiffons, crepe d’chines and velvets.   As a pampered daughter of an importer/exporter of fine fabrics and accessories from all over the Far East and Europe, I too had grown up in the finest of clothes.     

Until Ahmedabad taught me the value of cottons to cope with hot weather.   The varieties seemingly endless and the comfort so endearing.  Besides I ran an outfit that tailored everything for a handloom and handicraft  organization, Gurjari ….. 
How could I possibly wear anything but cottons? 
The wonder of block prints, with vegetable dyes taking on so many different hues, different for each village with its own soil and water chemistries, coming together to an incredible, amazing variety………..

On her first visit to Ahmedabad, long years after I left home – my children grown by then, she was shocked to see women going for a morning wedding in elegant cotton saris --- gold embellished chandheris and maheswaris.  When I told her that the height of Ahmedabad old world elegance  was a slim string of pearls with an organdy or  starched cotton sari, she was aghast.  Couldn’t quite get it.
The height was the day I was going to Gandhinagar to interview the then chief minster, Mr. Solanki.  After telling her a bit about the political background of the day, I went off to get dressed and emerged wearing a crisp maroon sari with a floral block printed border and pallu.
“You’re wearing that to meet a chief minster?  Are you mad? The guard will not let you enter…” she exclaimed worriedly.  In her dictionary, cottons was for the common people who had no place in a neta’s circle!!

My mother was not alone.  I remember one summer holiday for the kids in their nanka. After days in synthetics to appease family, I pulled on a handloom salwar kurta for a trip to Hutchings High School – only to have my old science teacher taunt me ….
”So, do you usually wear handloom or is this only your fancy dress for your old school?”

In college, I went the way of the teens of those days, with churidars and bell bottoms, with my own special touches, a hand-made crochet cap, long tulsi mala with cute pendants and tent-dresses that had the boys teasing me "bars bacon ki ma" when the film Brhmachari was released.

Today I happily switch from georgettes and chiffons to cottons and ocassional silks, depending on the season; obviously mainly cottons in Ahmedabad, saris, kurtas, kaftans, pants and even a bright cotton ghagra for maximum comfort.  Variety, after all, is The Spice of Life.

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