Wednesday 14 January 2009

Silly in a Sari

Oh, the dilemma of dressing. I once went shopping without my shoes on. In London. That’s how bad it is. (Actually, I realised my state of bare footedness before getting into the taxi so I zipped back to get shod before leaving)

It’s frizzling cold outside today so Barbour, boots and kid gloves are called for. However, I know that the restaurant I’m going to for lunch with The Merry Wives of Winchester is going to be cosy. Actually, it’ll be positively stifling. What to do? Do I wear a bikini under the Barbour? Probably not a good look at my age. A kikoi, maybe? My mind wonders over my wardrobe…….

Years ago I learned a lesson from a four year old.

“Mummy?” Bean unplugged her thumb and looked up at me from beneath those outrageously long eyelashes. “Mummy, I have to tell you somefing ‘portant.”

“Okay, tell me,” I muttered distractedly as I squinted hard at my reflection in the metallic door of the fridge. “Hmmm, quite….er…exotic.” I thought, grabbing my car keys and purse off the table. I looked down at Bean.

“What’s important, darling?” I asked, swooping in to kiss her. She stepped back, cocked her head and put her hands on her hips.

“You look silly in a sari,” she said firmly and plugged her thumb back in.

It was true. I’d been given the most glowingly beautiful sari by a friend from Sri Lanka and I loved the way the yards and yards of fabric fell in cascades of shimmering colour. Manju looked so serene and beautiful in her saris – an Asian goddess. I guess I thought that if I wore one too, I’d look just like her. Well, according to Bean, I didn’t. Not remotely.

Why is it that mazungus look weird dressed in non-occidental clothes? I long to wind a length of vibrantly coloured cloth around my head and match it with something equally vibrant wrapped around the rest of me. And to fling on a few extra scarves, lots of bangles, big chunky necklaces and daringly dangly earrings. But, sadly, if I did, I’d look a prize prat!

You want proof? Look below. A group of us mazungus at a ‘Back To Your Roots’ party in St. Thomas.

Texas, Cape Town, Massachusetts, New Mexico

Horrid, i'nnit? (No - I don't have a black eye. I just didn't open it on time!)


studio lolo said...

Actually, you all look stunning in your smiles :) (and your sari!)And I adore the ladies up top as well.

tam said...

its dreadlocks that look really bad on wazungu. I think you might need a 2nd opinion on the sari. Maybe it was just the light? Thanks for your lekker comments on mine.

Anonymous said...

Oh you all wear your smiles so beautifully and it looks like it was fun, if not necessarily the hight of fashion. But that's a moving target, no?

Sarah Laurence said...

Tess, the colors are just glowing! They make up for your cold, damp weather. It’s funny – I have a character in the novel I’m writing now who also wears a sari in London although she’s English. I got the idea from my roommate who showed up to the first day of college in a sari. She had been living for 2 years in India and Nepal, working in orphanages. She even had a pierced nose. Now she dresses like everyone else, but I’ll never forget meeting her. We’re having dinner on Saturday. Go for character over fashion!

Hana Njau-Okolo said...


I think you all look really nice, warembo wote!!!!

It's really all about how it makes you feel, dressing isn't it? Not what other's think?

I'd like to see you in an agbada!

Much Love to you

Mama Shujaa.

karen said...

I agree, it's a lovely pic and the smiles are totally gorgeous! When our staff come to work on Saturdays sometimes, in stunning "African Princess" regalia, I feel so scruffy & inadequate - and know I would never ever be able to pull off the towering turbans and lovely, fitted two pieces outfits with towering heels!

Lori ann said...

OH, there you are Tessa!! Helloooo! you are telling this to the wrong person, I LOVE it! you look postively gorgeous, everyone of you!
and of course, the painting too :)

Unknown said...

It's strange that it so seldom works. The only person I've ever seen carry off an ethnic look gorgeously was Jemima Goldsmith when she was first married to Imraan Khan. The rest of us had better stick to our jeans and "takkies" :-)

Fire Byrd said...

Thank you for stopping by, lovely to meet you.
Love your pictures they are so vibrant.
Maybe it's not so much the sari itself, maybe it's cause it's middle of winter and the colours wouldn't work, where as a boring old barbour....

Renee said...

ha ha ha. Too true and too funny.

By the way, you are gorgeous.

Love Renee

Sheila said...

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
I've looked at your blog over the past few days, and adore the art.
The colour adds sunshine to our wickedly cold winter weather.
I would love to be able to wear a sari again. Years ago I had Indian pals in the UK who loved to dress me in their saris, though I never wore them 'out'.
Now I'm too fat and too on in years..
I don't know though..People might just say 'poor old thing' and be nice to me.
It would be better than those awful red hats and purple dresses that are sprouting up everywhere..!

The W.O.W. factor! said...

LOL...leave it to a toddler and their pure honesty to change our own perception of ourself! (They say Children and dogs are the best judges...)
Hope you surprised the proprietors with a bikini under your woolen garb...maybe they'd give the meal for free (hee hee)
Love the Ladies in the first painting there, Tessa.
And their choice of attire.

Maithri said...

I think you all look beautiful, Glowing with a soft light.

I've always thought that a sari brought an added layer of grace to a womans beauty,

Thank you for your humour and the light in your words,

With love, Maithri

Linda Sue said...

This is the most adorable post ever! I so love your colourful, comfortable, regal women and i so want to dress like that but, as you say, ethnic dress is for ethnicity... I must say, however, you pull it off nicely- stunning actually! I love that idea for a gal pal party, also. Great post! You are beautiful! Your art is beautiful!
When my son was a wee babe- i dressed up for an evening and actually wore panty hose- He freaked out and cried and ran to the corner trembling- He thought my skin was coming detached. Silly is OK- creepy is not...