I love Indian clothes. They’re so colourful, comfortable and classy. The sari is of course probably the best-known Indian garment, but nowadays it’s mostly worn by older women or on special or formal occasions. Most young Indian women prefer to wear salwaar kameez, a long tunic worn over loose trousers. To complete the ensemble, the long scarf-like dupatta is draped over the shoulders and down the back. The purpose of the dupatta is to ‘preserve a woman’s modesty’, but I’ve discovered that this very versatile garment serves other perhaps more practical purposes.
The dupatta is not only a fashion accessory; it’s also a protective shield for the face and head from the sun, rain and wind. It becomes a shawl during the chilly monsoon evenings, or if I’m in a place where the air-conditioning is on full power. It’s also serves as a bed sheet on sleeper trains; or it can double as a blanket, or folded to make a little soft pillow. It becomes a scarf that keeps my neck warm when I’m coming down with a cold. It’s an excellent mosquito swatter. It can also be used as a towel or sarong at the beach. These are only some of the multiple uses for this simple piece of clothing. Now I know why Indian woman don’t leave home without it!