Desi girl: The conundrum with the saris, the western clothes and the wardrobe

The apartment I live in has a massive built-in wardrobe in each of the two bedrooms. Each is packed to the limit — mostly with my desi outfits, which take up so much space.

I spent the weekend cleaning out the wardrobe I share with my husband. He wakes up almost every morning, convinced that the T-shirt he must wear is the one at the bottom of the pile and that it’s best accessed by pulling it out in one swift motion – a feat made to look easier than it is by those magicians who divest a table of its tablecloth without disturbing the crockery and glassware laid out on top. My husband’s attempts have different results.

Besides sorting out the mess, I also wanted to purge any extra items of clothing I possessed. I counted 22 black tees and couldn’t bring myself to give away a single one, because no two black tees are created equal. You need various combinations of cut, length, sleeve, neck etc, and spares. Luckily, I was able to find other items that could go and a small pile went into a bag for the charity shop, giving me the comfort of knowing that I now had enough space to store future purchases.

You see, when it comes to buying new clothes, my main concern is not money but room.

Our apartment has a massive built-in wardrobe in each of the two bedrooms. Each is packed to the limit – mostly with my desi clothes, which take up an indecent amount of space.

Just think about the tiny amount of space a pair of leggings and a T-shirt need. Now think about a desi outfit, consisting of a kameez (tunic), salwar (trousers) and dupatta (scarf). It takes up almost three times the space. Not to mention that you can’t exactly roll or fold the desi outfit up like you would your T-shirt and leggings. No, these have to go on a hanger. And what about your saris? Not only is it impossible to handle nine yards of fabric (that takes special delight in unravelling at the merest of touches), you also have the skirt and blouse to put away.

And let’s not even talk about formal wear. There is no way you can fold these gorgeous clothes without damaging them. You can’t even hang them up as is, because the beads, shiny mirrors and delicate silk embroidery will get caught in the weft and weave of whatever you store next to it, ruining two outfits at once, so you have to cover everything in sheets and sheets of sturdy plastic.

In fact, an entire section of the wardrobe in the second bedroom is taken up by about 10 desi outfits. The same section in an identical wardrobe in my bedroom holds all western wear: those aforementioned 22 black tees, dozens of leggings, jeans and other trousers, a few dozen balled-up dresses and skirts and countless tank-tops stacked in piles. That is, enough to mix and match into at least a hundred outfits – all fitting into the same amount of space that 10 desi outfits require.

I confess that I did have a strong urge to pack up all those desi outfits and send them on to the charity shop, but the one thing that stopped me was the thought of what I would wear to weddings. Because, sometimes, desi is the only way to go.

The writer is an honest-to-goodness desi living in Dubai

Published: May 5, 2014 04:00 AM

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