I have a list folded really small in the back of my mind closet, hidden away; there I write down the things that make me afraid. Wearing a sari was on that list. The idea of being wrapped in yards of cloth made me immediately claustrophobic. Yet the fact that millions of women wear it is marvelous and a triumph– I came with this hyperbolic answer after I wore one myself this week. A lovely antique Daccai Jamdani sari, which is traditional of West Bengal and which I also borrowed from my friend. My waking faintly hinted to The March of the Penguins and going to the Loo was like a performance of modern dance, but I made it. A late-twenties Prom. I rocked it! If I may say so myself.
The wearing of the sari is almost like a religion, with its rules and regulations yet as all religions, it has a fair amount of leeway that makes it that much more complicated if you are a newbie. What color to wear for what occasion and what material, and way of draping it over you, so many details that for generations have made Indian women look like they are always on Fashion Week, and that goes for all women, rich or poor; in fact I have found the pretties color combinations on women who are definitely not rich and who perhaps are a bit more free in their color choices end up in the cover of my VOGUE magazine. I should be the Calcutta Sari Paparazzi.
So a friend invited me to her friend’s mehndi (henna skin decoration) party as it is traditional before a wedding, which by the way, I was also invited to– because in India the hospitality it is such that you don’t have to know people more like 5 minutes before they invite you to be part of their most important ceremony. Yes, we need to learn a lot from the East.