A few days ago I read a web article about a Teacher from a school in the Mumbai Suburbs about the dress code she follows to her work place. The writer referred to “ Many students and ex-students over the generation have written in saying that they have dreamt of my saris.” While reading this I realized this could have easily been my Mother talking. It took me back to memories of her getting ready for her college. I must have been 6 or 7 still going to primary school, and returning early to be able to see her get dressed for work. She also worked in a Girl’s College in the suburbs and took the college bus to work every day. She wore mostly Handloom cottons or printed cottons during summer, on rainy days she wore synthetics ( that’s what they were called then) and during the mild winter she wore handloom silks, printed silks. She accessorised her outfits with subtle jewelry. I know she had a collection of semi precious stone jewelry which I later inherited. She had her glass bangles. But they were rarely worn by the time I could remember. She wore light gold earrings and bangles and a watch with black leather band. She had progressed from the semi precious colorful jewelry to Gold, but the color wasn’t lost, she had rings made with different color stones, and matching earrings and bangles. We would go shopping for these in the city when we visited during vacations. And everyday when she got ready she would match her accessories with her saree. She seemed to do it without a hitch. I was awestruck by it. I thought someday I would be able to do the same. I remember she used to have her leather bags in the Black, Brown and Neutral color which she would pair accordingly. And her heeled Sandals, colorful and dainty but subtle at the same time. She stopped wearing heels after a freak accident at a railway station. But I still remember trying out her sandals all the time as a child.
She told me many stories of how her students would be in awe of her clothes and accessories. They would discuss amongst themselves what color outfit she would wear on a particular day. In the 80’s and 90’s the students were still respectfully afraid of the teacher so they didn’t talk about it to her in class. She found out from them during their field trips or excursions or sometimes once they had passed out of the college and come back to join the department as juniors. The millennial student were more forthcoming. They would tell her in the classroom that they liked what she was wearing.
The day I read the article I posted it on FB and wrote a bit and while doing that I found I had more to say. So, I decided to write this post for her on Mother’s Day. For my mother, who inspired me to dress well, accessorize and show up looking ready for the job every day. I came to embrace this tenet of dressing well pretty in life. Mostly I didn’t care how I looked because I thought my sparkling personality would do the rest. In the past 2-3 years I have moved away from only dressing up for occasions to dressing right Every day. And although my choices and taste are a poles apart from my mother, I know that some part of the love for sarees come from her. I remember I was given I saree every year and slowly by the time I was working I made sure I bought one saree every year. For a young person of my generation who did not have too many occasion to wear saree I had a sizable collection and would enjoy wearing them to Family events much to the surprise of people who thought I was too young to wear a saree. The concept of saree being meant for only rare festivities is ingrained in some and hence they are surprised to see me wear a saree. However, my Mother has definitely inspired me to wear a saree at most occasions.
Thank you Mom, for the inspiration. As years go by I realize how much influence you have on how I shaped up as a person. Happy Mother’s Day!!