Sartorial Splendour.

Conrad in his latest blog post has asked me one, oops two questions and instead of providing him with a photograph of me in a suit, I have offered to share a photograph of me in our native costume. This is the one that I am most comfortable in, and in which most people who call on us see me.

What I am wearing on top is called a kurta which is a loose fitting shirt with half collar and instead of trousers, I am wearing a lungi. The lungi is just a long piece of cloth stitched in the middle to form a cylinder. I alternate between a coloured lungi and a pure white one. The kurta is also white or coloured but most of mine are white.

The question/s that Conrad asked:

“One question I have for you. Do you think that India will now drop its American imitation and return to more Indian tradition? Or do you see instead a very different cultural alloy in the Indian future?

Wait, does that count as two questions?”

No, India will not drop the western style clothing in the foreseeable future. By Western I mean, predominantly trousers/jeans/slacks and shirts/t-shirts, jerkins etc. You will come across in cities most men in such clothes as they are functional and easily maintained. Women too increasingly are wearing slacks, jeans etc though mostly they wear what are called salwar kameez combinations. These are loose or close fitting trouser like bottoms and long kurta like tops. These choices however or in the cities and particularly in the Northern parts of the country where the winters are extremely cold.

Rural India though is predominantly still wearing traditional clothes which will be either dhoties, which are long pieces of cloth worn round the waist or passed between the legs to form a kind of trouser effect. Change towards trousers is taking place quite rapidly there too. For the top, a long collared shirt worn outside or a kurta is still favoured. The colour is almost always white.

In cities, in certain professions and positions people wear suits and ties though they are much less in number. This is a growing trend particularly with organiztions with international dealings.

The Nehru jacket as Conrad calls them, are still favoured by some and almost all our political bigwigs wear them for formal occasions. I used to, but gave them up because I could not easily access my upper inner pockets like I could using jackets.

Ladies still wear saris in various ways. These are increasingly for formal wear and the switch to the more convenient salwar kameez is quite rapid.

Change is taking place but I expect that all the traditional and modern styles will continue to co-exist.

India is a land of contrasts and you will see a wide variety of choices of personal clothing and styles as well as the way of wearing of them. To change the whole 1.3+ billion of us completely to some kind of a uniform dress will take a couple of centuries, I should imagine.

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