I was watching ibibo.com`s (thats where I work) latest advertisement and wondering why do people wear two underwears when in the washroom. Fashion, perhaps? Don`t trust me? Watch the video I have embedded below.
Let me assure you that I am NOT a fashionable person. Neither is my family. So take everything you read in this blog post with a pinch of salt – and don`t attempt any of it at home. There is an old saying popular only amongst Rajans: “If you ask a Kangaroo to take up tailoring, he would obviously stitch a shirt with huge pockets”…so as I was saying, don`t trust me.
Since the trigger for this article was the fact that the guy in ibibo.com`s advertisement wears two underwear, lets start with inner garments first.
When I was growing up, innerwear was introduced as a concept only while studying in the sixth grade. For some odd reason, my parents never told me that old, torn & tight shorts weren`t inner garments and for two years I continued to wear my old, torn & tight shorts. Walking was difficult. My friends thought I had a nice swagger and tried to imitate….but I didn`t tell them the secret.
Till I was in school, I only got khaki shorts (because they didn`t show dirt) and one brown trousers. Two days before attending my first day in college, my father gave me Rs 200 (I not sure about the amount now) and asked me to buy a trouser. Since, I had never bought one myself, I asked seven of my friends to accompany me into a shop called Trendz (in Goripalayam, Madurai). Eight of us walked in, took two hours to decide (the air conditioned showroom had its benefits) and finally bought a black trouser.
I bought black because it was a break from the khakis and browns & yet wouldn`t show dirt. Besides, it would go well with all the shirts I had – four to be precise.
One year after buying my first black, I came to know that black was fashionable. Unfortunately, by then the trouser had faded and was gray.
Around that time, I remember my respect for Satan going up. He wore black and that too in hell – who else will wear black in the red, hot hell while working closely with burning stoves etc.
In my early college days, I was also introduced to the brand called ‘Banana Republic` – at first I thought it was an actual country. If India can be a Republic, why can`t a Banana be?
Based on this logic, I went about lying how I had an uncle in Banana Republic who bought all my clothes from there and gave them to me whenever he visited India….when in fact I was going to a shady place called ‘Mayandi`s Export Garments` & buying Banana Republic clothes. It took a very courageous classmate of mine to break my bubble.
Traditionally, at the Economics Department`s Annual function the third year students walked the ramp. Back in those days, all fashion shows started and ended with ‘Red Nex`s Cotton Eye Joe` song….so music selection wasn`t difficult. Finding the classmates who would walk the ramp and finding the right clothes to wear was difficult. My rich classmates opted for the western wear (they could afford to buy or probably already had), the tall, handsome & fair guys decided to come in traditional wear. Caught in between was me – neither rich, nor suited for the traditional wear.
This is where we Rajans thrive in – amongst challenges. I asked my mother for a pair of scissors, serrated my faded blue jeans to reach just below my knees and let the threads hang till my ankles. Now, all I needed to do was borrow a really white short shirt and wrap a lot of rags on my feet for shoes. I was all set to represent unorthodox fashion at the fashion show – the cheapest possible option.
We Rajans bond very well. Just when it looked like the audience will see thro` my cheap attempt, my elder sister offered her dupatta as a bandana and my maternal uncle offered his Rs 40 (back then, this was huge) sun glasses to finish my costume.
Believe it or not, I got the biggest applause on stage entry. If only the sun glasses didn`t darken the already dark environs….I would have known which side the audience was sitting.
Now that I was a model, I decided to visit as many fashion shows as possible. Not as a participant – because my mom didn`t allow me to wear my serrated jeans even inside the house. And I couldn`t afford to lose my remaining clothes.
Thanks to a friend`s friend who worked with ‘The Hindu` newspaper I ended up in the first row of a very ‘sophisticated` fashion show in Madurai. I could see that the models were wearing shoes upwards of Rs 5,000…I was going mad with jealousy. That was when I noticed a bit of jealously in the eyes of one of the really thin models who walked past me. She had looked at the welcome pastry I had on the paper plate on my lap. I realized we both were jealous at each other. I do remember wondering what would have happened if I had thrown a chocolate cake on the ramp – would all the models have started fighting?
My tryst with fashion ended there – at least till I started earning five figure salaries.
My interest in fashion came back again, thanks to a lady at the McDonald`s queue at Planet Yumm at Ascendas IT Park, Chennai. She was carrying a leather bag with a huge ‘Guess` written on it. Only I didn`t know she was a lady….I thought it was some guitar player (with long hair, of course) who liked to dress in floral prints, and carry leather bags.
I turned her by the shoulder and asked: “So, you want me to guess?”
“What?” Obviously she didn`t know what I was talking about.
“Man? Did I guess it right?”
Guess, I didn`t know she was a lady till it was too late.
That day I decided to learn of fashion and become more fashionable. In fact, I even decided to write a 10,000 word essay on it…just to prove a point. It has been almost six years since this incident and so far I have only written so much:
Let me start this essay on fashion by proving how deep rooted and how impactful fashion can be. Mere mortals like you think British left us because we fought them well. What you guys don`t know is that British left because they didn`t need cotton anymore. We would provide them the cotton, their Mills would make them into cloth and sell it to the World. But then, around mid 1940s the World War ended and Nylon wasn`t required for the parachutes. What was one supposed to do with so much cheap nylon? Make clothes! Now, you really know why and how we got our freedom…..
I might not have completed my essay yet. But over the years I have gained a lot of insights into the World of fashion.
For example, do you guys (women included) know why those short shirts that show the women`s mid-riff are called ‘half Shirts`? Because only half of the women who wear it, look good in it.
Or do you know why one should never party with women in high heels? Because after 10.00 p.m., just when you are hitting your high note…all the woman in high heels will talk about is how badly her feet are hurting.
Or do you know that some inventors of fashion accessories aren`t happy with their inventions? For example, the inventors of stockings and ski masks are pissed that their inventions are being used by robbers, burglars, kidnappers and rapists.
Or do you know that 80% of the men love to wear women`s panties but are scared of getting caught (For example if they meet with an accident, and the nurse/doctor had to undress them). I know it is difficult to believe, but I once had a colleague who did just that. Back then he was newly married…so I didn`t take his “As soon as I get home, I will take off my wife`s panties” statement seriously and just gave a casual “I know….I have been newly married too.”
At that he looked at me as if I had said something unrelated and mentioned: “I am serious Jammy. They are torturing me!”
Post Script: Retail outlets today don`t really know how to sell. I mean, I have been going to Shoppers Stop in Metropolitan Mall, Gurgaon for the last twelve months and I see the same Bikini up for sale. Once while shopping, I asked Rekha: “Why don`t you buy that and save Shoppers Stop some embarrassment?”
She replied, “Only if they give me a cotton, multi-colored blindfold free with it.”