Whole nine yards.

Share

 

If I were to think of one regret about my life in Switzerland, that would be not being able to wear enough Sarees.

To say that I deeply love saree would be the epitome of redundancy. For the love has deeper roots and is perhaps, genetically coded.

Saree survives (or rather reigns) from the time of Indus Valley Civilisation. Also this is one precious bit of my culture I’m really really truly proud of. I’ve been to both Roman and Greek heartlands and sadly nobody wears togas or chitons or peplos anymore, these drapes have been reduced to red carpet relics but saree stays put, stays strong, both on and off the red carpet. Even Tim Gunn in his Fashion Bible says that perhaps saree is the only garment in the world that has survived without much change and evolution. The addition of blouse has, infact, been a recent development to the dress. There! Our saree defeats Darwin who said (pretty much) ‘if you don’t evolve, you die’! Take that Darwin!!

 

Saree is one dress that enjoys the exclusivity of being reincarnated in more number of forms than Lord Vishnu himself. It immediately transforms a little girl into a lady and a lady into a goddess. It is as beautiful in white as it is in black and as it is in all the known or recognisable colours to the human eye. You can show as much skin as you want or leave it all to imagination. The transformation is yours to choose.

 

Well, just to clear things (now I’ve been charged as a ‘professional disclaimer giver’ by Adi, my husband), this is not an educative or wikipedia-ish article on Saree (because I think, I’m already sounding like it!). These are my personal experiences and encounters with Saree that I’ve began to love (more), admire (more) & understand (even more), growing up with it.

 

It is my journey with saree and the whole nine yards of it.

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

A playful saree moment! This well worn silk saree was given by my mausi for my then, very prolific, saree experiments.

 

 

Like gadzillions of little Indian girls, I had my eyes on my mum’s sarees all the way back to a time when her 2½ mt dupatta (stole) was good enough to drape as a saree. A dotted bottle green one was spared for the same purpose by mum and it successfully salvaged her cupboard for quite some time.

But unlike gadzillions of little Indian girls, I never raided my mum’s closet to see myself in one of her magical weaves. By this time I was old enough to realise they were far too precious to be handled by me. Especially because of the way they were so neatly, meticulously, guardedly stacked in the cupboard exuding an aura of authority and sophistication. And all kids are put off limits by these two things. They were held in high esteem by a little girl who did not dare to have one of her little doll house tea parties in them. They were like degrees to me, that I would be awarded with, at a certain age. And it was on passing high school that I wore my first one, a caramel coloured Mysore silk with border depicting a panghat scene, that was a wonder of a saree. I felt grown up. And it was not the event or the knowledge or idea of leaving school that made me feel that way. It was the fact, that I was in a saree and learning to carry one.

 

Honestly, I’m still at it and will be till I learn to carry them with elan & elegance of a girl born in a saree or born to don a saree!

 

That’s my Saree Aspiration #1

 

I did not know how to drape a saree for an awfully long time. My first milestone of being wrapped in a saree was a passive event on my part as I stood stiff like a mannequin while a team of experts, my mum & cousin Molly, draped it around me. My mum drapes a saree like a pro, not only beautifully but faster than I can put on a pair of jeans, let alone the skinny ones.  It is invariably impeccable.

 

That’s another one, Saree Aspiration #2 – to drape a saree beautifully without getting a year older doing that.

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

This is my first saree moment and I know I look extremely nerdy (even without the glasses).
But I promise things get better further along the article. Just be with me!
Mum mailed me these pictures when I told her about the article, so that explains the flash on the pictures :)

 

The second time I wore a saree was when I graduated. A big day calls for a big dress. It had to be saree! Unfortunately, even then, my saree situation was as grave. Though I’d learnt to pull a tooth out of a socket, to pull off a saree was still a challenge. Luckily, there was Margaret, a boon of a beautician for a bunch of saree challenged hostel nerds. With her deft hands she wrapped up the gleeful new breed of doctors who hitherto scurried all over the place in white coats and books that outweighed them by a large margin.

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

Grad’s Day Saree Moments.
We all know, Grad’s Day is more about saree and posing in one (I’m pretty convinced at least SOME of you will agree).
At least in my case, me being in a saree was more of a highlight for me, degree being a side show, now that I knew I’ve cleared all exams.
I’m hoping things have already started looking up!

 

 

It was during post graduation, when my wallet was little better padded with the monthly stipend, that I started working on building a saree collection like I had been seeing at my mum’s & mausi’s. There was a boutique close to my hostel that displayed a lovely gauzy, shimmering grey saree, embroidered over in shades of blue. Everyday I passed by it and everyday my desire for it went up a notch and up went a secret prayer along – ‘please god, don’t let any one buy it’. The much awaited first stipend arrived and I withdrew the entire amount and went straight up to the store after college and I did not buy the saree. Nope.

 

Not the one in question. But I found another, even lovelier saree, the ‘pink gene’ on the Y chromosome drew towards pink version of the same saree. I bought it pronto and thanked god (this too, pronto) for not putting this one on display 😉

 

Never had I been so happy to part with my money.

 

I’ve hardly shown my degrees to anyone or even talked about them much but I did show my carefully packed saree in the cotton cover (yeah, I was thrilled to get a cover for it too!) to almost everyone I knew and added that I bought it with my own stipend for good measure.

 

The saree probably is already out of style but it is never going out of my wardrobe. Not a chance.

 

Another stipend saree story. It is circa 1978 a lady during her years in Lady Hardinge Medical College, falls in love while walking along Baba Kharak Singh Marg, New Delhi. It is love at first sight. And why wouldn’t it be, it’s a silk saree with some Mughal figures on the borders after all! The saree was even christened as ‘Akbar saree’ (because of the figures). The saree was quite expensive for a house surgeons’ stipend. But such is the power of love that it finds a way. So the saree was booked for a part of the amount and reclaimed on next monthly stipend. Akbar saree and the lady lived happily ever after. The lady has infallible taste when it comes to saree and she is my mausi (maternal aunt).

 

So yeah, history repeats itself when the niece follows suit.

 

It was during post grad years that I found some friends who also doubled as my personal saree coaches (good things can happen in post grad too, you know!!) and accepted me as a pupil. That’s where I learnt right from the scratch, all the basics, secret tips and tricks. Besides lessons, we also did a lot city-hopping-saree-shopping amongst us!

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

A saree moment in hostel from my post graduation days.
The saree was borrowed from one friend and draped by another.
There was a lot of bonding over saree draping, saree shopping and saree talking!

 

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

Meet my saree coaches!
It was the engagement of my coach in magenta.
This is another embroidered georgette saree that I bought with my stipend during post grad.
And I draped it myself (more or less), yipeee!

 

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

All aboard City-Hopping- Saree-Shopping in Coimbatore, Mangalore!
Because first step to draping a saree is having one (Or some) 😀 We bought scores of them, coimbatore silks, cottons, chiffon & georgettes.

 

During that time learning to draping a saree became as important a skill to possess as passing my clinical exam and I took it upon me as a task and I practiced and practiced in my room. I had very vivid visions of myself going to work in resplendent crisp sarees post, post graduation. Also, it scared the wits out of me to think that I’d be on my own at my in-laws place with my undraped saree lying in front of me, tears flowing down, surpassing the length of saree and nobody to my rescue!!! So I practiced and practiced even more.

 

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

I’ve celebrated most of the milestones in life in a saree.
Getting hooked and booked in one was only fair!
Engaged to Adi, in a yellow brocade and net kundan work saree.

 

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

On our convocation! I’m doubly happy for I have two degrees.
A masters in Periodontology and a bachelors in saree draping!

 

 

It was the first day of my wedded life and I draped a saree, a yellow Kota-doria aka Masuria, which is usually a blend of cotton and silk (also which isn’t the easiest thing to drape) and surprised myself! What people thought, might have been the ‘after wedding glow’, was me beaming with pride in my saree!! As crazy excited I was with it, I wanted to tell everyone like a four year old, ‘Look! I did it myself’!!

I even wanted to tell it to my dog.

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

That’s the first day of my wedded life.
And I’m in a saree!
And I’m beaming with pride ’cause, I wore it myself!

 

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

I hope I did tell Juno (the most innocent looking deceiver in the picture, who mum’s trying to pacify)!

 

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photographysarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

Crackling fun at photo shoot and lots of saree happiness!

 

 

With a week left in India, I had some twenty sarees to wear. Boy! I had taken more than a mouthful to chew. Moreover, a hot and humid August is favourable for no fabric of saree or for no fabric, in general, of anything. But for the love of saree, wore as many as I could.

 

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

It’s clammy, oppressive August heat Vs saree-loving and determined (and newly wedded) Pastlife Seamstress.
I had bought bright floral and paisley printed & embroidered chiffons just for this!
Ha! I had the last laugh.

 

 

When I travelled to Switzerland with two large suitcases tagged ‘heavy’, some sarees travelled along with me. Now, this is where things get more interesting 🙂 Love crossing borders is always a hit formula and it especially was, when I wore a saree in Ibiza, Spain, attending our friends’ wedding. My relationship with saree was getting better, I was bonding with them outside the realms of their origin. A new Saree Aspiration #3 added to the list – to wear as many sarees as possible on our travels in and outside India.

 

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

A wedding in Ibiza, Spain and a saree moment, away from home land.

 

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

I love this picture from Ibiza, where the pretty little flower girl and I were quite in tune with our colour choice.

 

 

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

Saree in a wedding in Mexico!
I hope it counts as a saree moment, as I designed this dress out of an old but refreshing green silk saree.

 

Well I have been doing a lot of saree experiments some of them are here, here and here.

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

A lovely Saree moment in Morocco.
I’m quite religiously following my saree aspiration #3

 

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

Moroccan mint tea was actually the focus here backdropped against my saree.

 

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

Saree moment on a holiday in Jodhpur a la Jodhpur!
A light breezy chiffon and a string of pearls.

 

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

It’s a silk -pashmina blend saree purchased on my recent visit to India.
Love it to bits.

 

I have another, Saree Aspiration #4, to wear a Maharashtrian Nauvari saree & one with ottiyanam and temple jewellery and the works. I have no idea how, when and where would I make it happen but they say you should keep a dream in your pocket.

 

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

I love sarees not just for how they make me look but how they make me feel.
Blissful!

 

I love sarees because they are more than just another article of clothing in a wardrobe. It is perhaps the only garment that has sentiments attached to it. I don’t have any such sentiments clinging to my coat or my jacket or my hat or my shirt or any other clothing. But I’m attached to all those sarees that my mum was so generous to hand me down (along with her saree wisdom), that my husband got for me, envisioning me in them, that my friends bought, that my aunts and cousins got.

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

Over the time, I have bettered my taste in saree (well, at least I like to think that).

 

Saree forges bonds in relationships be it, mother & daughter, husband and wife, aunt and niece and many more. Insane amount of hard work and imagination of the weaver is woven into the threads to metamorphose it into a saree. Sentiments, hardwork and imagination of the weaver, buyer and the wearer. Even in the simplest of them all. Even the machine made ones are indispensable, georgette, chiffon, crêpe and such have been the ‘training sarees‘ for most novices like me. They have been life savers to women on the go & been staples of the royals. A saree speaks of so many stories.

 

So I love all kinds of sarees, it’s just that I love some more than the others. 🙂

 

And here’s my (biggest) Saree Aspiration#5, to go on a ‘saree safari’ and buy & wear sarees from all the different regions in India.

 

 

sarees, indian saree, saree article, article on saree, experiments with saree, sadee saree, Indian saree, sari, sari styles, my saree story, photography

I also know better, to capture all these moments of saree happiness for they mean so much to me!

 

 

 

So I love all kinds of sarees, it's just that I love some more than the others. :)

Not just the saree per se, all the memories, moments, love and blessings that come across the border with me, everytime I bring along a saree from India!

 

It’s not I embracing the saree, it’s the forgiving, preening & timeless nature of saree to embrace me irrespective of form.

 

So I love all kinds of sarees, it's just that I love some more than the others. :)

The self proclaimed saree ambassador, writing off, promising to take saree across as many borders as possible!

 

As I live in the cocoon of Alps, I spend a lot of time in Indian plains in my mind. Some days when nostalgia builds up I take out my sarees from the closet and re-embark on the beaten paths of memory, recalling and reliving many moments as I go on making pleats, perfecting my palla, draping the drape, that connects me to my homeland, my people. 

And yes, I still practice and practice and practice more!

 

 

So I love all kinds of sarees, it's just that I love some more than the others. :)

Even though I say it myself, my saree future looks up!
(feeling smug with a halo around)

 

Hope to see you soon with a saree story from across a new border!

Comments

  1. Hi Nikita,

    You look absolutely stunning in those sarees. In fact all the pretty ladies of my esteemed nation look drop dead gorgeous in the captioned attire.

    Hats off to you & ladies like Deepika who motivate the youngsters to shoulder the legacy for the years to follow.

    Soar High…Dive Deep!!!

    • pastlifeseamstress says:

      Many many thanks Puneet and hats off to readers like you as well, for sending boundless motivation and appreciation, to carry on wearing the most magical attire in the world!!

      • The article you wrote was a good read as well….forgot to mention earlier! As fresh as a daisy & provides a lungful of mountain air.

        Are you active on Facebook/Twitter too with your amazing write ups? If yes, please provide the ID.

        Thanks…
        PM

        • pastlifeseamstress says:

          Thanks heaps & yes, I am active on facebook/twitter/instagram/pintrest regarding my blog. You can click on either of the icons displayed at the top right corner of my blog page(s) and reach me. You will receive a notification as and when I post something new on the blog. Hope this helps. 🙂

  2. Beautiful Nikita with lovely Sarees!

  3. Hi Nikita,

    Came to know about you from Sadee Saree page. Glad that I clicked on and read this article. You are amazing with your sarees and this article shows your love for it. Really really enjoyed going through your experiences with sarees. Excited to know a person who is so so attached to her sarees and an ardent saree lover. I sincerely wish all your saree dreams come true, very very soon!
    Wishes, and loads of it!

    Devjani, Kolkata, India

    • pastlifeseamstress says:

      Dear Devjani,
      Many many thanks for you love, appreciation and for being here! It’s so heartwarming to connect with people like you through a common love of saree. I hope to see you again here, sometime, to read and connect to another story. 🙂
      Love,
      Nikita

  4. Nikita you are looking very gorgeous,elegant and aesthetically beautiful in Saree irrespective of the occasion——-school, college,engagement,marriage India or abroad. Very interesting article,good reading.Keep it up.

  5. You ve become a pro!!!! Chennai is waiting for you!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks P S for being an ambassador of Indian culture and tradition.