#Sareedate 02, Kuala Lumpur, 29th May 2015
Yes, we have been following all the lovely pictures and all the lovely sarees. Yes, some of us have saree stories and some of us wear sarees more often than others.
But there is one thing that binds all of us together- things we took for granted back home take on a significant new meaning here.
We are all raising our children far away from our familiar surroundings. We are raising children who have adapted to the environment they have found themselves in, in a country not their own.Our kids have expat friends from all over the world, each speaking with a homogeneous accent with each other. Surprisingly, with their parents, our kids slip back into the English we speak at home. Our kids are as comfortable with the local roti canai as they are with alu parathas.
Their parents too blend into the expat environment. We wear our pants and we enjoy our teh tarik and kopi tarik as much as anyone else.
But we make it a point to still eat Indian at home. We say our prayers and we see to it the kids understand their mother tongues. We wear our kadhas, our lohas and our toe rings. Some stuff we have not given up even in our expat lives. Wearing our saree, salwars and ethnic prints is a subconscious way of keeping our roots intact. Keeping our third culture kids familiar with the environment at home.
The saree pact may be a conscious movement in our native country. For us, expat parents, it is a conscious way of keeping our kids familiar with their identity. And yes, if it keeps the handlooms intact for them by the time they step up to take their place in the world as adults, we are glad to have made the effort. We hope our kids enjoy the weaves and textures and colours that form the fabric of our Indianness as much as they blend into international styles.
Here are some saree stories with our Saree Date in Kuala Lumpur.
Sheenu Gupta: has just arrived in Malaysia, and is still to get the keys to her home, the container with her luggage is still to arrive. But when she heard about the saree pact, she also discovered Brickfields, our own Little India. She found a saree she liked, bought the matching petticoat and got the blouse stitched- in the span of two hours and a dosa!
Tina Chopra Hasrouni: is married to a Lebanese, with a beautiful little girl who loves (and misses) garam phulkas. Natalie is the only child to opt for Indian food in all our social gatherings, while the rest of the kids are happy with their pizzas. She missed her friends birthday party to join mum for the Saree date. Tina thinks she did not understand much but enjoyed wearing her own saree. She was the only representative of Gen Y who wore the saree that evening.
Jamuna Muralidharan: a top HR person in a top multinat! A saree to her has always been more an identity than just a dress. An identity in the Indian environment that allowed her to “behave like a man” in the corporate world, while still keeping her heart as a woman. She combines elegance with firmness with her sarees, and misses wearing them here.
Swati Pandey: chose the kantha work on Tussar silk to celebrate the tradition of handmade work that brings such beauty to our lives. I remember my mom who always helped me with draping the saree but this time it was my 10 year old daughter who delighted in my dressing up. It was she who helped me get the pleats right and manage draping the six yards. Wearing the saree brought more reasons to smile and share with my girl. I hope Gen Y will come to appreciate traditions and the saree as much!
Shalini Sehgal: the saree is the most beautiful garment. I agree but have always found it cumbersome to drape it and after living outside India for may years, the practice for saree draping was all gone. I was pleasantly surprised when my daughter decided to wear a saree for her school graduation in Singapore two years back. We hunted for the saree, she loved this one with the bright red border and carried it off quite gracefully.
Monisha Sen: while all of you raid your mothers closet, I had to clean out my mother’s cupboard as she passed away- exactly a year ago. Her students at school all have fond memories of my mother in her sarees with her matching bangles so it was apt that this photograph of her in a school function popped out at me- wearing a saree I had kept for myself. Despite not having a matching blouse, this saree begged to be worn in her memory- one last time. It was an old saree and got torn that night of our Saree date, but I did manage to wrap myself in what used to be hers one more time.
– Monisha Sen