sirisa clark

the things I do and the words I choose

A woman of the cloth


I’ve had a bit of a change in attitude to attire since arriving in India. Early on, following the advice of the guidebooks, I was all about discreet respectful dressing, covering myself up from ankle to wrist for modesty in the day and mosquito protection in the night. But you know what? People stare at me no matter what I wear. Dudes stare at me if I’m in my salwar kameez, if I’m in an ankle-length dress, if I wear trousers and a shirt or shorts and a vest. And dude, you’re walking around in a dirty wifebeater and what is essentially a tablecloth you’ve fashioned into a mini-skirt! Now I realise the double standard exists because a flash of your hairy thigh is not going to drive anybody into a dangerous sexual frenzy, but if I have to put up with that, you’re going to have to cope with my bare shoulders and knobbly knees…

Anyway, getting around with essentially a week’s worth of clothing for 6 months is taking its toll on me a little. I miss my wardrobe. This may come as a bit of a surprise to those of you who know me to live in a jeans and t-shirt uniform, but I secretly worship at the altar of fine tailoring (true story: there currently resides a box in my dad’s loft labelled “Siri’s box of impractical dresses”. Because honestly, where is one meant to wear a floor-length blue velvet dress, or a peacock-inspired beaded Donna Karen mini-dress with kimono sleeves, or indeed one’s vintage kimonos?)

Being of roughly similar proportions, Ben and I have taken to swapping clothes from time to time to relieve the monotony (although I have yet to talk him into the Salwar Kameez…) To my chagrin though, he persists in being taller and slimmer than I, and the trousers that cling to my middle like a suffocating needy ex, hang with a cool insouciance from his snake hips. Bitch.

Now, when we first arrived in India, I pretty much sneered at the hippy brigade and their uniform of drop-crotch MC Hammer trousers and Om-symbol t-shirts. I did the hippy-chic thing in the 90s and could give it a miss this time. But, as with all ridiculous fashions (hello skinny jeans! I still hate you!), repeated exposure to the image of beautiful slim tanned goddesses wandering around in these ridiculous pantaloons have worn me down, and established the look in my mind as A Good Idea.

So this is the context in which we arrived in Mamallapuram, tired and stinking after three days on the boat in the same ropey vest top and tatty shorts, to a kaleidoscope of sari-silk blouses, billowing parachute trousers, wraparound dresses in jewel colours, mirrored shoulder bags, silver jewellery, tooled-leather sandals… Reader, my head was turned. Ben took one look at me and said “you know that scene in Terminator where you see everything in the Terminator’s vision, automatically scoping, scanning and analysing everything in sight? That’s what I picture happening in your head right now”.

I am now the proud owner of a new floral sundress (bare shoulders and knees, in your face India!), a Ganesh t-shirt, and big droopy Princess Jasmine trousers (I managed to resist the drop-crotch MC Hammers). I think maybe it’s Ben’s turn for some new clothes…


5 thoughts on “A woman of the cloth

  1. Your latest blog, my dear, left me entertained and tantalised. Beautifully turned out! I am dying to get a load of those floaty pants of yours! You’ll be back just in time to start setting some new insinuating trends to the lawns of Hyde Park.
    Missing you guys,
    Mica & mahoossive bump.

  2. Hey Siri, when you get back we will have to have an impractical dresses event – I too have some of these – one being a floor length red bias cut Ghost evening dress which I have yet to find an occasion to wear 🙂

    • Bea, the description of that dress drew a small whimper of desire from me that had Ben asking what the hell bias cut is. Impractical dress party is on, and I believe it can only be accompanied by elegant cocktails and canapes!

  3. Haha, the exact same thing happened to me in India! I bought two pairs of harem pants and to be quite honest, the comfort they afforded stopped me worrying about what I looked like in them. Wearing gigantic, floaty pyjamas is so much fun. Especially on long, uncomfortable bus rides.

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