Saree stories…

Wearing a saree has not been one of my favourite things to do. For one, it involves draping six yards of fabric around me. Given that the heat and humidity levels in Mumbai are of such infernal levels that hell’s own devils could sit back and feel right at home here, I am normally of the kind of sweatiness that requires a shower bath, after I manage to wrap the said six yards around me. Which, as everyone knows, goes over a petticoat. Which is one more layer of fabric between skin and air. And the little space of waist that is exposed to air is of such horrific spare tyre proportions, that it needs to be wrapped up with the kind of swaddling intensity one reserves for newborns. Seriously though. By the time I am through with draping my saree the first time round I am wrung out with sweat, and the crisp ironing has dissapated into crumpledness. I then look at myself in the mirror and realise that, horrors, I have tied the petticoat with such laxity that a step and the entire contraption could fall to the floor in a public situation of such horrifying embarassment potential that I could never ever recover from it enough to ever make a public appearance beyond my front door. Therefore, the process starts all over again. Undrape, unpin. Tighten petticoat nada. Breathe in. Breathe out. See bare waist in full horror in mirror. Faint. Revive self. Drape saree carefully all over self, carefully avoiding the horrific sight of lumps of flesh hanging over what was once hair pin bends on waistline in reflection. Do the pleats. Stick safety pin into saree. Manage to stick safety pin into finger which begins spouting blood like a geyser. Find blood manages to make its way down the front of the saree which would have come right upfront covering blouse, thereby rendering said saree unwearable until drycleaned, so you scream and do the Rumpelstiltskin hop and jump and stomping dance, until concerned family members outside knock at the door gently and ask if you need help and whether you are alright. You snap at them to leave you alone, and get on with their work, they having already donned pyjama kurtas, of which no pins and draping form part of. You tear off said saree and leave it on the bed in a dejected heap while you rummage through your sadly bare saree collection (five wearable sarees at last count, the rest all given away), and wonder what you could wear which wouldnt need you to change a petticoat. You find one, which is similar in colour to the one you’ve discarded but you cannot find the blouse. You throw out the contents of your entire cupboard and find it hiding behind the winterwear. You then realise that it is in a state of such crumpledness that it could pass for crinkled. And the iron is in the next room. So you pull on a wrap and your dignity, and emerge from the bedroom, blouse in hand to be ironed. Cryptic comments are heard from the living room about how given the time taken to emerge from getting dressed in the same state of deshabille as one had gone in, a bride would beat one in getting ready competitions hands down. One ignores such comments with the disdain they are worthy of, and quickly irons said blouse, and gets back into the bedroom, slamming door shut with appropriate force. One gets back to draping. Drape, drape, drape, pleat, pleat, pleat, pin, pin, pin. Voila, done. One looks at oneself in the mirror and the pleats at the waist have begun somewhere near the right hip bone, and the pleats at the shoulder are of such unequal sizing that random theory comes to mind. You repleat and pin again. The pleats at the pallu defy all theory and form an edge so jagged you tell yourself you will spend the evening holding one end gracefully up so no one notices. The pleats at the waist are now bang at centre, but have decided to stick out in absurd directions like hat hair and you call in the small child to hold them and smoothen them down. Which he does quite effectively, and earnestly. And also yanks off the pin in the process. Creating a bit of a rip down the front.  You yell a bit so that some shelves shake, and the delicate china tumbles over, and repleat and repin the whole shebang, and slip on your shoes. And march out with much lack of grace, when you realise the spouse is staring at your ankles which are on display, like a bad Victorian woman. You look at your reflection in horror. You sit down and bawl, while the child makes consoling noises and the husband places a carefully neutral expression on his face. And you go back into the bedroom and wear a salwar kameez.


About Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral published her first book, The Reluctant Detective in 2011. Since then, she has published eight books across genres till date. Her books include romance and chicklit with Once Upon A Crush (2014), All Aboard (2015), Saving Maya (2017); horror with The Face at the Window (2016) and nonfiction with Karmic Kids (2015), A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up (2016) and True Love Stories (2017). Her short stories have been published on Juggernaut, in magazines like Verve and Cosmopolitan, and have been part of anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Have a Safe Journey (2017) and Boo (2017). Her articles and columns have appeared in the Times of India, Tehelka, DNA, Yowoto, Shethepeople, New Woman, Femina, Verve, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Conde Nast Traveller, DB Post, The Telegraph, the Asian Age, iDiva, TheDailyO and more. She was shortlisted for the Femina Women Awards 2017 for Literary Contribution. She is a TEDx speaker and a mentor with Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk 2017.
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17 Responses to Saree stories…

  1. Aathira says:

    Saree wearing is one deed I am going to have to pick up post marriage! And wearing it and wearing it well is where all the difference lies!

    Alas.. I have never worn it well!!

    Soul sistah!


  2. R's Mom says:

    Hahahahahahhaha! This so speaks for me 🙂 Thanks Kiran..had a good break from an awfully pathetic brought a laugh back on my face 🙂 BTW: Stick to Salwar kameez they are a safer bet!

    I will. I learn my lesson, and keep forgetting….


  3. babiesanon says:

    LOL 🙂

    I love sarees and I realise now that the Bangalore weather has a lot to do with it 🙂

    Of course it has….try draping a temple silk while youre sweating like a hydrant…


  4. Arshi says:

    Why don’t you get all your normal sarees converted into ‘ready-to-wear’ sarees. I got all mine done here in Singapore. So basically what they do is — take your measurements, then make a skirt with already fixed (not literally) pleats. The skirt has a belt (they make it with the saree material, so you can’t event tell the diff) with lots of hoops to hook on. So even if you loose/gain weight it works wonders! Since it’s custom made the length is just nice too. All you need to do is pleat your pallu yourself. Wearing a saree was never that east before…it only takes 2-3 mins to pull on the skirt n pallu!!

    I might do that with the more formal ones. The chalta hai stuff can stay chalta hai…


  5. Suki says:

    Oh boy. I do well with a saree on me – though mainly in winters 😛 – but draping it myself is another ball game altogether.
    But salwar kameezes? Not touching them again till I hit 25, at least! Worn them throughout my teenage – enough is enough is enough!

    I agree, I still dont touch salwar kameezes until the elderly relative pleads with me to at least wear them for ceremonies or family visits…


  6. ittakestime says:

    I so know this situation…. till date cannot drape a saree and my mom in law comes to the rescue on all such occasions 😉

    Oh, I dare not ask the MIL….after 14 years of being a married woman shame on me for not knowing how to drape a saree like a good bharatiya naari…


  7. Rachna says:

    That happens to me ALL THE TIME…
    All the time.. siggh.. and i thought i was the one perenially saree challenged!
    But thankfully, I have this range of salwar-kameezes to fall back on 🙂

    Now you know you are not alone…


  8. Sue says:

    Next time, call me. It’s my only skill.

    I need to fly you down and back…


  9. Gypsy Girl says:

    hahaha!!! I love wearing sarees… and my inability(read laziness) to shed my post pregnancy weight is why i don’t wear them much anymore!

    Kiran, i spent an hour reading your blog. And i can tell you that i know you better in this one hour than the two years spent living in the same building and exchanging pleasantries! To us you were the Gunda aunty who my son really liked!! 🙂

    🙂 How technology comes to the rescue of neighbours. Havent seen the Gunda down for a while….


  10. anon says:

    you have EXACTLY TO THE LAST DETAIL described my mother’s saree-wearing capabilities!

    If she hasnt got it after the headstart she has on me, I have no chance of making it… :).


  11. Yes, YEs, YES!!Add one more thing, you’ve found a saree that goes over said petticoat and you find an ironed blouse and when you put it on… realise that your upper arms were once the dimension of your current sized wrists….rip!Has happened to me several times over the past 5 years. Did that make sense???:)

    Absolutely, and then you run around finding a safety pin to take out the stitching and ten minutes later realise your sleeves now go upto your elbows…


  12. Shobana says:

    Errmmm…vowed to never wear a saree again. Can never carry it off like some people. Looks utterly drabby on me and what with all that heavy carriage in the front, it would look horrible.

    So did I. But I think sometimes on festive occasions it does look nice to be in a saree….despite the Michelin Man waist I have…


  13. Bhavna says:


    you are a riot. Alas- I can totally empathise or rather sympathise. And now i have a job that requires me to be wear sarees regularly. So the hubby is honing up his pleat pressing skills. But he is really inefficient with the pallu pleats ( men – I tell you!). So of course, he becomes responsible for the saree not turning out right. ( Lately though he has early morning meetings whenever I need to wear a saree to work…err). And the my maid in distress looks at me balefully and swears she doesnt know how to help me. Damn, its a tough life. But even if you get it half right a saree is just so


  14. Bhavna says:

    Btw- after your ‘Tips’ post, I started my South Beach diet again. Its been 5 days and man I feel good!!! Thanks.

    ( yeah yeah- Rujita calls it the South bitch diet, not recommended, but it works for me..)


  15. Gayatri says:

    ‘Tis what happens when people like us wear a saree a handful times a year (less in my case). I envy those that will wear a saree in one go…and have such deft hands when it comes to pleating. Me? My right hand cramps when I start pleating…the left hand does better but then when I have to flip them around they come undone! And I’ll have lose ends that when tucked add a few inches to an already burgeoning waist! GAH


  16. shruti says:

    LOL! I loved this post!! I stay in bangalore (heat is never a problem).. but still can’t get it right!!
    Now I don’t feel so bad!! 🙂


  17. Abha says:

    you have like a spy camera hidden someplace??!! 😉

    i let my ma in law laugh at me, but i take her help. i take anyone who is ready to help ka help! i dont care if they laugh at me as long as i dont go wearing funny saree at an aimportant function.

    and i have scared M shitless by starting tio bawl while trying to wear the saree correctly!

    and oh! i was in delhi last week and i sweat even in the cold there! such are my confidence levels in my saree wearing capabilities! hehe!



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