FABRIC OF INDIA
I have no idea about clothes and fabrics. I stick to the basics, which was taught to me during my Army career. A dark coloured trouser and a light coloured shirt. Dark means close to black, navy blue or a dark brown. Shirt means a plain white or light coloured shirt, no pinks or purple. Yes, when it comes to casuals I prefer blue denim jeans with a single coloured T shirt preferably with a pocket, no checks & no stripes. I am in love with “khadi”, like a well starched kurta-pyjama. These days you get shirts which stand stiff like the good old days of our OG uniforms. I also prefer to wear silk scarves in “bandhej” prints in winters. Over the years my choices have evolved.
Today, I go to a shop and ask the salesman to show a sober coloured shirt. If he brings a floral, purple or dark coloured one, I leave that shop and go to the next one. You may call be a dimwit, never mind. For me sober means something which is not gaudy, outlandish, loud, flashy & showy. Who defines all this? Your guess is as good as mine. I cannot impose my choice on you. So is with the nation. How does one decide what fabric suits the nation? I am sure it too would have evolved over the centuries.
Man used to roam around naked and the first dress he wore was a fig leaf. Later he found wool. He discovered silk and cotton. Jute also came in. Synthetic apparels also surfaced. Plastics did make inroads to the fabric scene. Did anyone think about it that why we changed from one type to the other. We mixed and matched. Our outer cover changed with time and so did our inner feelings about other fellow humans.
Then there are people with a kitschy kind of choice of clothes, tasteless, cheap & vulgar in some ways. Well, I am no one to sit in judgement either. Probably the other fellow thinks about my choice of clothes in the same manner. Nevertheless, it depends on individual person how he wants to attire himself. Such people do exist in the society and we live with them in peace.
Well if I see how the “fabric” of India transformed over a period of time which was intricately woven into its culture, architecture, clothes, cuisine, transport, infrastructure & even warfare. Spices slowly entered our lives. As trading started there was a spice route. A silk route existed too. Soon the flavours, tastes, and colour of the pallet & fabric started to absorb the extracts of foreign lands. All got amalgamated as people traveled far and wide. India remained resilient and peaceful.
Invaders came and went, they killed and looted India but the fabric of India never got tarnished. Mughals, Christians, Parsi’s, Portuguese, Tibetans came, some stayed on. Even Hinduism evolved during times of turmoil to strengthen the fabric of India. It spread to various shores and was absorbed there. Each invasion contributed to the Indian fabric and helped in improving it.
Today this fabric is tearing up. The “tana-bana” is all messed up. If I don’t like the colour of a fabric you wear I will get intolerant. Then a tug of war begins. The cloth meant to cover us gets shredded to pieces leaving us half naked and exposed. Indian fabric was never so intolerant. Today, a poor person with tattered clothes will be tolerated but a lady with a tattered designer jeans will be looked down upon. Adivasi without clothes is not an issue but an advertisement of a bra and panty hurts our sanskriti. I dare not talk about the “temples” of Khajuraho.
Condition of the country today is such that we have to keep patching the fabric we wear. In good old days mom used to get “rafoo” done where the pant or shirt used to get torn. It used to be the artistry of the darner who used to blend and match the texture and design of that shear. Only you could guess where the cut was. Such craftsmen aka leaders are gone. Now with so much of infighting we need to put a “Paiband”. It is a kind of patch of cloth which is stitched to cover a big hole. That is the state we are reaching at.
Today, we don’t care for the fabric we were proud of once. Ultimately a time will come when that piece of cloth will become un-wearable and will have to be thrown away as the rafoos and paibands would no longer suffice to cover what they were supposed to. Why have we reached this stage and why can’t we preserve our very Indian fabric? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis