Monday, April 18, 2011
In the 50s and 60s---even into the 70s--Women were supposed to be the Rock that Homes were built on.They were the mainstay of the Homes they ran like Clockwork---but very much subservient to Men---more so in India.In India the Dress Code decided the "Good" and the "Bad" girls---extravagant use of Make-Up and extreme Fashion in dressing made a girl looked upon as fast!!
As a child I wore only the best---both my parents were very extravagant where Clothes were concerned---besides Mummy was an expert Seamsress---all our clothes would be modelled on the Patterns published in the Imported Magazines---the Indian touch added by touches of beautiful Embroidery that Mummy did---copied from the Indian Magazines!!As I crossed the age of 13,Daddy woke up to the fact that I was growing up---and surprisingly for someone as broadminded as him---he decreed that the Tailored Sheaths Mummy made for me had to have "Salwars" or "Churidars" covering my legs---the latter being so tight fitted that in the Summer I'd powder my legs and use a News Paper inside these to help me ease them leggings over my sweaty calves---the Churidars had a tendency to get stuck there and pulling these made things worse---for they then tore----and thus too a "Dupatta/Odhni/Chunni" as the Stole was called---became a necessity too!!Here I must give full credit to Mummy---she stitched form fitting Sheaths in various Designs---but those Outfits never looked mismatched---they'd always look complimentary to each other!!I still love the full skirted look----plenty of gathers under a tiny wide belted Waist---not to forget the Flounces and the Frills!!Even today these Patterns still appeal to me---there was something irresistably Feminine about them!!Not just that I adored embroidered/frilled/flounced Blouses---specially teamed with full gathered Gypsy Skirts!!My favourites were the smocked raglan sleeved White Muslin Blouses with Embroidery---like the Hungarian Blouses----tied at the neck with Ribbons!!Besides I had a tiny waist---just 17" in diameter---though looking at it today no one will believe me---and was proud to be able to wear these---Scarlett O'Hara was my Idol---and so I loved these beautiful Clothes!!I also loved wearing another traditional Indian Dress called the "Ghararaa-Kurti" -----a wonderful full length,full skirted Pants topped by a short "Kurti" and with a 3 yard Dupatta!!!Very graceful and extremely feminine!!
However once I got married all this changed--- Skirts and Salwar/Churidar Kurtas were left behind and I began wearing Saries----with fitting Blouses that had tight sleeves covering three fourths of my arms---for Atya and her sons were very conservative!!The necks of my Blouses were frozen at 6" deep---and I was to wear Saries even at night.As a result my Parents went out and bought me 2 trunkloads of different Varieties of Saries----Cotton Voile Saries to be worn in the house---termed daily wear---casual embroidered Organdie,"Kotaah" and printed Full Voile Saries for Casual Wear-----and Silk,Chiffon,Crepe and Brocade Saries for Formal Evening and Party wear---along with the accompanying matching Petticoats and Blouses!!I still remember going to buy my Trousseau---a Parent seated on either side of me with murmurs of"Oh--so lovely--we'll take this one please!!"echoing often---taking for granted that I had liked it too!!My one defiant contribution to my Trousseau was my beautiful "Gharaara-Kurti" consisting of Pure Silk full skirted Pants in Coral topped by a Raw Silk Kurti in Ivory with Gold Motifs appliqued on it and a 3.6 yards French Chiffon Odhani bordered with a heavy Gold Border!!I was to wear it only 3 times---a day prior to my Wedding--then for an Outing after the Wedding---and finally once on my Honey Moon----it was frowned upon so severely that I bundled up the outfit in Muslinn Cloth---and packed it up!!!My waistline burgeoned from 17" to 23" and from there on it just grew and grew---today it is a Dress that I've still preserved---as a memory of my tiny waist!!
Mummy was very particular about being "Lady Like" all through the years I was growing up.She deplored my tomboyish tendencies and once I turned 13 she'd pile Books on my head and make me walk up and down the Stairs--to straighten my Spine and do away with my Slouch---which she swore I had!!The Nuns had another method---if we were caught slouching in School the Nuns would push a long Ruler down the back of our shirts---resting aginst our Spines----and since we wore belted Uniforms those Rulers stayed in place---rubbing against our backs every time we relaxed a little---a highly painful procedure!!Not just this it upset her that I always had a myriad scratches and scars on my limbs besides being tanned a deep brown!!!To remedy this Mummy'd use Home Remedies which both my Grandmas would advise her with---and how I hated that sticky goop she'd make with various Flours,Turmeric and Sandal Wood mixed with Fresh Cream as a whitening Mask!!My skin is extremely oily and all that Cream made me break out in Pimples---and thankfully this helped to spare me from Mummy's machinations!!