Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Safety pins in my sari

Confessions of a sometimes sari-wearer who says it 'runs in the family'.

You would think that coming from a country of half a billion Indian women, I would know how to wear a sari. After all, when they wake up in the morning, most of them can tie seven yards of cloth around themselves as if they were performing one of those mundane morning rituals - such as making their morning coffee. Or frying a dosa. I cannot fry a dosa, or even make the batter from scratch. I can rarely remember the ratio of water to coffee that goes into the cone-filter coffee maker, which mostly sits idle. And I have never woken up, tied a sari around myself and moved through my daily chores with ease.

Except for special events (which mostly involves a visit to the temple for Diwali), I rarely don one. And even when I do, instead of walking around gracefully and following the folds of the pleats in the front of the sari, I totter around as though someone had stapled my feet to pieces of cardboard. I keep it together with safety pins because I don't want to join the hordes of urban tales about saris unravelling in public, on stage, or worse, at the temple.

That stuff is complicated. Some even call it art. Systematically wrapping all that cloth around yourself and still being able to walk freely while using your arms for anything but holding up yards of material may look easy, but it is not. I believe it runs in the family. Or at least in my generation of cousins. For a while, when my cousin worked in the travel industry and had to wear a sari to work once a week, she would pull out one of six that her mother had pleated and pinned. We called it the "home-made version". You tuck in the right bits for the lower half and create a sort of pleated skirt, while piling the remaining fabric over your shoulder.

Then came the modern day tutorial. Designed for me, the one living so far away from the reach of parents and relatives that my cousins initially would take photos of the aunts tying it around themselves and send me photos. Then we chanced upon the internet version, which teaches you how to go about wrapping it yourself without looking like a mummified corpse. We called this the "ready-made version".

I've even worked out a plan for when I am stranded in a hotel room with no access to the internet: call guest services and - in India at least - a lady from the hotel will pin you up. In a foreign country? Call a friend's mother. They always answer the call to tie a sari.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 S*uce store at The Dubai Mall. Courtesy: S*uce

S*uce celebrates 10 years of style

As they celebrate their 10th anniversary, the founders and staff of the made-in-the-UAE boutique S*uce look back at their fashion success story.

 Who did we give five stars to? Mathew Kurian / Ravindranath K / The National

Your guide to the UAE’s best burgers

In search of the perfect burger, The National staff taste-tested the country's many burger joints. Which ones stood out from the pack?

 Sense, A Rosewood Spa offers The Gulf Cure, a 90-minute organic treatment that makes use of the detoxifying and relaxing powers of seaweed. Courtesy Sense Spa

Testing the subtle powers of seaweed at Rosewood Abu Dhabi’s Sense Spa

Add seaweed to your beauty regimen, says Kalpana Ramgopal, after a treatment at Sense, the spa at Rosewood Abu Dhabi leaves her with silken skin.

 The Emperor 1688's Golkar brothers. Courtesy Fashion Forward

The Emperor 1688, Kage and House of Fatam nominated for Woolmark Prize

Three UAE-based brands have been nominated for the International Woolmark Prize: the menswear label The Emperor 1688 and the womenswear brands Kage and House of Fatam.

 Steamed Shrimp Dumplings at Lao restaurant the Waldorf Astoria, Palm Jumeirah. (Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria)

Dim sum to die for at Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah

Waldorf Astoria has made its debut along the Eastern crescent of Palm Jumeirah. Worth a visit for the Dim Sum is Southeastern Asian restaurant Lao. Check out chef’s recipe below and see our slideshow of other top dishes to sample.

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings

(serves 10 people)

Ingredients:

Prawns 250g

Potato starch 25g

Tapioca starch 25g

Spring onions 20g

Lukewarm water 20ml

Banana leaves 20g

Sesame oil 50ml

Sesame seeds 50g

 Entrance of the Zuma restaurant at DIFC in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

Zuma bans cigar smoking

Zuma, the high-end modern Japanese restaurant concept, has banned cigar smoking in its Dubai location. The move follows the ban on cigar smoking in its bar and lounge areas during lunchtime service that was introduced in April last year and the Dubai Government’s anti-tobacco law that came into force in January.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National