T-Shirt Ke Peeche Kya Hai? ( What’s Underneath Your T-Shirt ? )
February 27, 2009
Mass cliches about India always include saris. Crisp, shiny saris that nobody actually wears.
In my own little world of Indian cliches, there are: jasmine-smelling pillows, singing lakes, pink elephant nails, raat ki rani, lavender parakeets and off-white banyans.
Not to be mistaken with the merciful banyan tree, a banyan is a vest.
It is made of very soft, thin cotton. Its purpose is to prevent excessive sweat stains on the outer layer of clothing. In such a hot country, it makes sense.
Men wear it, sleeveless or not, under their shirts, kurtas, t-shirts. Banyans are what Indian men wear in the privacy of their homes. It’s what villagers wear with their lungis after a day’s work. It’s what my cigarette seller wears every day, and to sum it up: it’s not sexy.
Nevermind : banyans have grown on me.
I love the world it conveys. I know Indian hedge-funders who wear banyans under their Brooks Brothers. To me it is like wearing your baptism medal with a cocktail dress, or your turban to the beach: anachronistic.
Only, a banyan is hidden. It somehow says: beneath the fancy suit, I am a simple man.
Of course, it doesn’t. It’s only me romanticizing the damn thing. If you want facts read the papers, my German literature professor always said.
I guess what I like in banyans is their softness. They truly are the thinnest cotton t-shirts in the world. I used to steal my ex-bf’s banyans to sleep. He put his foot down one day when I went for a run wearing one with my sweatpants.
“Are you out of your mind? he stopped me, you are not going anywhere wearing male underwear.”
Fair enough. They might send the wrong message.
To start the weekend on a Bollywood note, here is a little gift: Madhuri Dixit dancing the now legendary Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai, which means “What’s underneath the blouse?”. Quite a scandal when it was released in 1993.
Have a good weekend.