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New Fashion

I saw an elderly, sari-clad woman as I was walking down the road the other day.  She's the mother-in-law of a neighbouring housewife.  All dressed up for a winter walk in a cardigan - then I saw.  Them!  Under the sari, she was wearing a pair of sports shoes.  Yikes!  Reebok types.  All laced up.

A little further down the road I saw another woman in the same outfit.  Sari and sports shoes.  I never saw that before in my life.  Until that day when I saw it twice.  Up to then, I only ever saw saris worn with 'chappals' - slippers like what we called 'flip-flops' in Ireland - a type of open-toed sandal.  I often saw ISKCON (Hare Krishna Devotees) women wearing buckled sandals with heavy socks in the Irish winter weather years ago - but nothing like this!

Then on Sunday our friend Dr. Sumitra, on a visit to our city - dropped by wearing - you've guessed it - laced up sports shoes and a sari.  "Is this a new fashion?"  I asked her.  "Yes!  And very comfortable!" she replied.

Does anyone remember the 'Adrian Mole' books by Sue Townsend back in the eighties?  The life and times of a young teenage boy in Thatcherite England.  I remember a passage where Adrian's boiler-suited feminist mother is unfavourably compared with pretty Mrs. Singh, the Indian neighbour, in her pretty sari and sandals.  Adrian's father groans looking at his plainly dressed wife who pities the 'poor downtrodden Indian woman!'  Well, Mrs. Singh, by the looks of things, seems to be catching up on Adrian's mother where comfort and practicality is concerned.

So in case anyone out there is thinking of messing with an Indian lady, DON'T.  You might get a kick you weren't expecting!


  1. Gaelikaa, content of your running social commentary is getting brilliantly "worse".

    Trainers are diabolical - with any attire. One doesn't have to match Imelda's (what's her surname) shoe cabinet but there are limits. I have always admired the effortless gliding along of Indian women in their colourful saris on the streets of London, whether in Harrods or on street markets; so I am rather disappointed at their bowing to what Reebok prescribes.

    The first and only time in my life I was reduced to wearing trainers (whilst not running) was when after the first accident this year (2009 has not been good to me) I couldn't fit into anything other than my son's rather large footwear. Talk about adding a fashion statement to injury. Luckily, he and his friends thought a pair of big 'Diesels' rather fetching on me. NO COMMENT.

    I will give your flip flops some consideration again: They were de rigueur when I was in my teens and the nearest to my favoured foot gear (bare). Unfortunately neither flip flops nor bare feet come with six inch heels which is rather a pity.


    PS Isn't Adrian Mole now in his late thirties/early forties?

  2. When I see things like this, my first thought is always, isn't it a shame that pretty, authentic, local made articles are being replaced with mass-produced, widely available, often ugly goods. But then, I remind myself that those people are not exhibits in an anthropological museum. Everyone wants comfort and convenience.

    Ursula, when the Adrian Mole books were first published he was a couple of years older than me, so he should be around 40 now.

  3. Oh what a shame to spoil the look with trainers...but I can understand the need for comfort.

    Adrian Mole is indeed in his 40s and I do believe Sue Townsend has another book out about his life now.

  4. Well, Siobhan and Ursula!

    Adrian Mole! He was all the rage twenty years ago. I remember when I attended a writer's workshop around that time, the facilitator mentioned that Adrian was basically the old favourite 'Just William' re-written and remarketed for the eighties. Sue Townsend the 'Mole' writer did pretty well out of that. I think maybe the old idea could do with a rehash! What do you think? As Siobhan is living in Turkey and I'm in India, maybe Ursula could take it up? Living in Britain, Ursula, of all us 3, you're definitely the best qualified.....


  5. Hey, Ayak, thanks! Must look out for that!


  6. We lived in Nottingham for a time and the sari clad ladies found it really difficult in the winter. Saris and anoraks just don't do it, they really need sunshine! But I don't remember trainers.

  7. I’ve read all of Townsend’s books! Loved them… Even “The Queen and I”…
    Anyway I remember that passage!
    Fashion rulez!!! Ahahahahah

  8. I think saris are beautiful and elegant but why should they be expected to wear sandals in the winter? I say nice warm running shoes are a step in the direction of liberation, plus she can run better if she feels the need.

  9. First, I will note that I have never "messed" with Indian ladies.

    Gaelikaa, my wife and I have pondered why it is that of all the races on this planet, it is Indian women who are most likely to be seen wearing their traditional clothes. Do you know?

  10. Ursula,
    I've almost always chosen comfortable shoes. I did get plenty of weird looks when I wore skirts and dresses, so I compromised and switched to wearing pants. Luckily I'm old enough to be invisible now, so it doesn't make any difference. ;)

    When you get there may you enjoy being old as much as I am. :)

  11. ellen,
    "I say nice warm running shoes are a step in the direction of liberation, plus she can run better if she feels the need." Right on!

    This post has lifted my spirits, gaelikaa. Thank you. I needed this after the one about forced abortion. Women having a choice in their footwear is a small step in the right direction.

  12. I remember Lulu played the part of the mum in the tv programme! *L*

    I've seen many women in business suits wear trainers until they get into work; I never understood it myself-buy a good, comfortable pair of shoes instead. But then, I can run in high heels...comfort isn't the thing for me. ;O)

  13. well gaelika it is not so much about fashion as it is abt comfort...

    as these shoes are so comfortable and resistant to winter many ladies are switching to it for practical reasons ..

  14. Gaelikaa, thanks for your vote of confidence as to updating Adrian Mole this side of the Channel.

    I'll give it some thought and draw on what I am lucky to glean from my own home grown 18 year old and his friends. Pensive pause .... Big smile.

    Gaelikaa, what a different story it is a few decades on!!! Possibly even funnier. Though the plague of those compulsory spots erupting over one's face at the most inopportune moment will have to remain. Should Neil, if and when his need arises, be prepared to try out humiliating and smelly, yet effective, home remedies let me know.


  15. Urmeela always wore saris. Every evening, I would take her for her walk to our local joggers' park and she would put on her Reebocks for the duration. All the other ladies who come to the park for the evening walks also wear sports shoes of various brands, whether they wear saris, or salwar/kameez outfits. While it is perhaps incongruous, I should imagine that it is much more practical!

  16. Cheerful Monk, leaving aside your notion that one gets invisible (a self fulfilling prophecy) at a certain age, here is the one and only secret to being able to run in heels and not ruin your feet in the process: MONEY.

    Spend as much as you can and comfort will be yours. No wonder I am impoverished but my feet are so perfect that no chiropodist will ever make money out of me.

    Tip of the day: Buy high heels in Spain. There their purchase won't break the bank because Spain's designers understand women's feet and cut leather a little wider ACROSS - makes all the difference. But then that's the land of Flamenco for you.


  17. I have a couple of pairs of Sketchers and find them like walking on air. They are worn only with trousers and never with a skirt or dress.

  18. Hmm... I think what's most important is health and I learned in cosmetology you should wear good shoes with support and exercise to keep the ugly veins from popping out on your legs and thighs. Especially if your standing all the time like a cosmetologist, BUT I wear all shoes.

  19. I think it's even funnier to see Indian ladies here (especially older ones) wearing Nike sports shoes with their sarees on hikes in the mountains of all things! But chappels aren't so good for winter here, or mountain climbing for that matter.


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