Thursday, August 5, 2010

News tidbit, I found interesting!

A recent polls on business attire by Reuters found Indians, the smartest dressed when it came to work attire  with 58% donning suit or other formal clothing to work. and Hungarians the most casual. Dressing in shorts to work in India is like waving goodbye to your promotions and maybe your job. According to the polls, such people are considered slackers in India.  I was surprised that they even mentioned dressing in shorts with respect to Indians, because, as much as I know, I don’t think people consider that a work attire in India.
In the years before I became an NRI, I taught math in a college for a year. My colleagues and myself, as I remember, were dressed very formally,in saris (Sari is a formal womens work attire in India). We were not allowed to wear Sal wars, or pants, or skirts. We almost competed to be perfectly dressed. I used the public transport to go to work, and would be so happy to take a bus, with all the seats occupied.  Why? to avoid creases on my sari, of course.  Summers were fun, with starched and ironed cotton saris.  My weekend time was allocated to starching those 6 yard fabrics, drying and ironing them. Could be Bengal cotton, or Dharmavaram cotton, or Mangalgiri cotton or exotic Banjara prints and of course the beautiful Kota’s, there are so many choices. Nothing like the look of a crisp cotton sari adorning a women.
Even to get out of the house to run an errand just next door(called kirana store), required me to iron my dress and make sure there were no creases on it. The dress shouldn’t look lived in. 
The work attire, in the USA, is so much more informal and convenient, in chiffon s and other fabrics that don’t need starching or ironing. It ranges from jeans to pants and skirts to formal suits. Now-a-days, we also get wrinkle free shirts. To name one, Stafford shirts, claim that their shirts will look ironed for 20+ washes. This make dressing to work, even more easier.
During this visit to India, as I look around me,  I still see people wearing fabrics of high maintenance, like pure cottons. The wrinkle free concept has not caught on as much. The working crowd here do look much more casual than in the past decade but, well dressed, nonetheless.  A common site now-a-days is seeing women drive their scooty’s with all their face and hair covered with scarves, to save them from dust and men wearing masks.
For most, two-wheelers is the mode of travel to work,  in India.  And all the dust and pollution on the  road and other elements of the weather don’t help much in maintaining ones freshness. The other day, as I sat in the car along with my kids,  it had started to rain. I saw so many people on bikes(with children) getting wet in the rain, some of them holding their bags/folders on their heads, the women covering themselves with their dupattas. I felt so guilty to see them getting wet while I sat inside this vehicle. I never gave a second thought to such a situation in the USA, when I went to work on a rainy day.
The sight, brought back memories, of rainy days when I went with my dad on his scooter. Helmets were different then. They didn’t have a glass attachment to cover the eye, so, we had to stop driving when the rain was hard since, one couldn’t keep their eyes open.
The only reason that I would want to work in India again is the chance of wearing a sari to work, especially the cotton sari’s. This is one dress I miss wearing to work.

2 comments:

Rachna said...

Then you'd be disappointed because in corporate offices, no one except the really old ladies wear saris. Even in schools, it is not mandatory. It differs from school to school. These days, no one prefers to wear saris at their workplaces as a daily wear unless it is enforced. Frankly, it is not a very comfortable attire to work in. Though, Indian women do look very pretty in saris. But, look at the women wearing saris daily, and my opinion differs with yours. I see most of them with their ooncha saris, many times crumpled, and it is not very appealing to look at. Saris are slowly relegated to festival or formal occasion wear. As an aside, it is another matter that many women in the South wear the salwars shabbily. The pajamas are ill-stitched and often higher than the ankles. Churidars before the advent of fitted ones were droopy and sloopy, and the dupatta is conveniently done away with.

gayatri said...

Hi Rachna,

Good to know that its not enforced, this makes it easier for me to choose when I would like to wear it. It would surely be odd in the USA, right!

As you said it, its inconvenient, but its fun and exciting and beautiful too. It has lot of maintainence issues but then, who looks fresh after the first few hours of morning.

Traveling in the dust doesn't help either. There is spit and poop on the streets, so even I wouldn't feel comfortable walking with my sari down to the ground. I would prefer holding them high on the street and rearrange my sari, when in a cleaner place.


Given all the inconveniences, that's my choice of dress. It does enhance a women's body to look shapely even if out of shape.

I'm sure Sari wearing is enforced on lecturers, since the difference in age between me and the final year (B.com, B.A and B.Sc) students was hardly 3 years then. If I were allowed to dress in salwar, I would have looked like a student myself. I think that was the reason they enforced it in the college I taught.

In school I enjoyed watching 2 of my teachers who would really dress well in sari's. My math and science teachers. One of them, wore a gerbera daisy, below her knot she used to put on her hair. Remember her like I saw her yesterday.
Then there was one teacher who would just wrap some fabric and show up in school.
When I taught, I did feel that my students enjoyed watching the sari's I wore. (dont' get me wrong, it was a girls college). So, there are people who wear sari and people who are passionate about it. I would consider myself among the later kind. I'm sure there are many of them like that.