Random musings of a wandering soul

How do you do it?

chic The fragrance hits you first, as if you are suddenly transported to a heavenly garden full of exotic flowers. The tip of a dainty shoe in the most unusual of colors, slowly peeps out and a perfectly coordinated apparition slowly emerge out of a squeaky clean car in the office parking lot. A sleek laptop bag on one shoulder, a small handbag made of exquisite leather in exactly the same color as the shoes, hanging from the crook of the other arm , a perfect pair of legs clad in spotless linen trousers, a toned upper body shrouded in some kind of ethereal material, a shrug that shrugs itself casually across the shoulders, a face that looks as if it is moulded from the best aromatic wax and oh, that lovely crown piece, the silky hair flowing gently in the breeze with not a strand out of place. Not to forget that light pink lipstick on the pouting lips, the kohl lined eyes that are hidden under that huge Prada shades and a pair of not so tiny diamond ear rings and the exquisite neck piece.

Now, if you can drag your eyes off,just for a moment, take a look at that dusty car that has just tried to knock you down. The door opens all of a sudden, something that resembles a bundle almost falls out, before straightening itself out into a human shape that resembles a pumpkin perched on a pair of drumsticks. A coconut for a head and its husk for hair that is flying frantically in all directions. A pair of brown shoes that has seen much better days, and a backpack that is still trying to figure out whether it is black or grey. “No handbag?”, you ask.”What is that?”, she asks back. Is it a hallucination, you wonder. That’s me, I answer.

Just how do they do it?

I have always been in awe of these all lady, not even a bit of tom boy- ish kind of women around me. The first one in my life was my grandmother. Whiter than the whitest ‘chatta’ and ‘mundu’ (a traditional christian ladies wear in Kerala), starched to a stiffness that it could easily replace a school master’s rod and a ‘kavini’ (made of the ubiquitous kerala saree material of much better quality than what we get today), she was a real lady from head to toe. My mother was not as perfect, thank God for small mercies, but good (err…bad?) enough. And the common grouse was always, “why is this girl like this?”. No kajal, forget the bindi, at least get rid of those sack clothes. And I would be like , how dare they look down on my classy khadi-wear?

School days were kind of okay, thanks to nuns and uniforms. College also passed by with friends most of whom were only marginally better than me. Then came the hostel days. That is where I learnt that blush was more of a noun than a verb, mascara was something that you put on your eyelashes and not eat (that it was called mascarpone and not mascara was something that I learnt years and years later) and that manicure was something that was done to your nails and not just how the lush green lawns in Rajendra Maidan looked like. The word gauche must have been invented after someone saw me in action. Then, as now, the saving grace was the book in my hand that branded me an intellectual. Ha!

The less said about the saree days of the CA times. Our sir had this typical notion that girls looked professional only in sarees (now that I look back, what profession was he thinking of, I wonder πŸ˜‰ ). Obviously he had never tried getting into a private bus in Ernakulam, on a typical monsoon day. Eons ago, if any of you have happened to see a frustrated soul trapped in a drenched cotton saree splattered with mud, twisted in an awkward angle, trying to close an umbrella with one hand, hold on to some huge hardbound files with the other, turning her shoulder like a nagina in a c-grade bollywood movie to keep her hand bag squarely in place and at the same time getting on to a red bus that is ready for take off, I confess, that was your truly, my friends!

The first thing that I did after getting my first real job (which sane person would consider their CA days as a real job, those were days of free lunches and movies) was to throw away all those six yard pieces of torture. Actually, I pretended to be offended at my sisters who confiscated the loot, little did they know what a relief it was not to wind it around me any more. So I started my first job, determined to look very professional. It was cottons again, silk came much later. The salwars were like tents and the duppattas like walls. The hostel mess got their rice from the ration shops, a look at the kanji-water would stiffen even a slouch like me, so just imagine the plight of an ordinary piece of cloth. I use to gape at some of the girls there who looked even more better turned out in the evening than they were in the morning. That lasted till I realized why it was so difficult to get work done from most of them. How can you complete anything when you absolutely had to run to the ‘rest’ room every five minutes to keep your hair back in place and lips back in shape. Time for the next confession. I tried combing my hair thrice a day, that lasted till I lost my comb on the second day. Then I didn’t comb my hair, at all, for three straight days. Yes, I actually went to office for three days without combing my hair, God promise! It must have been on the third day that someone described me as, “Oh, that girl who looks as if she just had fever!”

Then I got married and as a consequence, had a child. What a relief, I could look or not look like whatever I wanted. That blissful period lasted not very long, unfortunately. This time around, I was even more determined. I had Fabindia on my side, no one could beat me now. Those dresses were so damn classy, I could wear it everyday. And that is exactly what I did. Until my BFF at office whispered to me one day, “don’t take me wrong, but please don’t wear these salwars to office anymore, someone told me those are actually holes on the duppatta and not Turkish embroidery”. Okay, I confess, I made up the Turkish embroidery bit. But you get the drift, right?

Next job, lot of women around and all impeccably turned out. There are client visits and we are the ambassadors of our country, our organization, of fellow women and so on. Now cottons have made way for silks, but they still come from Fabindia. The first visit went off extremely well. The girls around oohed and aahed. They just loved the flow of the raw silk top and the design on the khadi silk duppatta and was stumped by my freshly smoothened hair. The heart attack that I got after seeing the bill for pulling the seven and half strands on my head straight was totally worth it. This happiness thing you see, is very transient. It is a very fickle partner, especially when you have to turn out perfect at eight in the morning to attend to a client. House is war zone on school day mornings and I somehow stuff myself into one of those favorite silk dresses with that ‘only you can find these’ kind of duppattas. I reach office, go into the ‘rest’ room so that those strong urges at the most inappropriate times do not happen, hang my duppatta on the hook to keep it safe and…………. the color of my ‘out of the world’ salwar had fallen so much in love with the duppatta that came in from ‘some other world’ that they decided to live happily ever after.

All you exquisite, elegant, attractive, chic, dainty, delicate, polished, stylish ladies out there, save me and pray tell me, how exactly do you do it?

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Comments on: "How do you do it?" (41)

  1. Don’t look at me! I come to office in a clean pair of jeans and shirt and have to look at women well-coiffed and made-up in designer suits!! I never was a girly-girl so I’ve accepted that I can never aspire to those heights!! πŸ˜€

  2. That could be me! Nothings more comfortable than jeans and t-shirt/kurtis. And I team it with trainers. I am in awe of all those ladies too! How I yearned for that straight hair, made up face yadda, yadda, yadda. Until I got to know that they spend hours to get there every day. There is no way I can manage that πŸ™‚ And definitely not wearing those heels which would ensure that I would ttrip and fall million times before I reach work:)

  3. Ha ha !

    My question actually would be a lil different… do they really like it !?

    I quit my job coz I had to wear formal clothes and a tie… ! Ugh…. India has 45 degree heat… we were to wear a Dhoti with ventilation and they want us to wear a tie !!! 😐

    I just love my jeans and t-shirt and am mostly in it… lets say atleast 350 days a year ! πŸ˜€

  4. Hahaha..even I wonder how do they do it? I used to, at the most, manage to wear clean and ironed clothes but what’s make-up I may ask on most days…
    lovely, hilarious account, Bindu…loved it :-))))

  5. They have a maid for each nail in their body Bindu, So all they have to do is just ‘lie’ around πŸ˜‰

  6. Sorry I really can’t be of any help, I came here to pick up some tips for myself too:) I see I’ll have to come back later πŸ˜‰ It does not help me that my hair, the little I have of it, is frizzy most days and can predict rain. You are right, those Fabindia cottons and dupattas are cool, but need a lot of care! A hilarious post!

  7. My first job required only a jeans and top. πŸ˜€

    My current job requires formal wear. But there are no severe restrictions. I wear western-wear … half-sleeved shirts with trousers and open sandals. Formal suits are also ok. It’s somewhere in between formal and informal I guess.

    Don’t know how it would be in my next job though!

  8. A post after my own heart. πŸ™‚

    I have always been one of those ‘intellectual types’ who could never quite get the classy look right. πŸ˜€ I have often wondered how ‘they’ do it, day after day after day?

  9. I was preparing for a rendezvous with the elf when that earthly being entered with ‘a pair of brown shoes that has seen much better days, and a backpack that is still trying to figure out whether it is black or grey’! (That was poetic!) Luckily, the disappointment was washed away by unabated waves of humour. You have painted a living, pulsating picture of yourself through the succession of caricatures. As for the concluding thought, it has troubled the wispy mass of gray between my two ears too! It was an absolute joy reading the post.

  10. You must see what Geet wears at home! She will pull out anything from her almirah and wear it without any thoughts. But when she goes out, she is like those ladies. I don’t know how she does that but the transformation was startling initially. Now I am used to it.

  11. That was a really wonderful post. Thoroughly enjoyed your sense of humor and the way it was presented. But as the saying goes, appearances can be deceptive πŸ™‚

  12. I have so much to say that I will probably go the pointers way πŸ˜‰

    – I just loved the way you wrote this post specially the first two paras felt straight out of story πŸ™‚
    – and I have exactly the same questions for them
    – this reminded me of a colleague, I was so much in awe of at her ability to give herself time and get dressed so perfectly that it used to take me around 15 minutes to just analyse her attire, matching accessories, shoes, bags, nail paint, scarves, bags, make up etc etc, point is every single day even during her monthly cycle. That too effortlessly, she was one of the best performers of the team, and she would never wander around the washrooms.
    – and there were some others who used to take almost half an hour in the washroom as soon as they log in just to touch up and could be found there for 40 percent of the office time,
    – for some it just comes naturally, it becomes a part of the day, of there life and for some I will say its a matter of bhedchal.
    – I too left my first job mostly becoz the dress code was strictly formal along with the Mindsets.

    And for me, I took 20 minutes straight to get ready for my shadi. Even on days when I plan that I will give myself time, plan to take a leisure bath and get ready with all the makeup n all, I take 10 min at the most.

    I feel, it is important to an extent to dress up, it feels good at times and over all gives you a happy feeling in social gatherings πŸ™‚ but alas it’s rather difficult to unlearn the old hAbits.

    Looking again at my comment, I think I should dedicate a separate post myself πŸ™‚

    • I do agree, for some it comes naturally, but then it would have taken some time an effort for that natural flow to happen πŸ™‚
      And do that post, please..it is such a joy to know kindred souls

  13. I gave up on it long ago. Admire, don’t aspire, is my motto. It is too much work and I am too lazy.
    Btw, I love the one who got out of the second car πŸ˜‰

  14. I find beauty in carelessness…! My excuse to my sister for my laziness…:)

  15. LOL…..totally enjoyed the post :-D.
    Took a few seconds to recognize the pumpkin drumstick coconut person.

    Bindu U are, even after all that, atleast 80% better than me.
    1. You atleast know how to tie a sari properly.
    2. I bet u dont throw away the bottom and dupatta of brand new salwars and substitute it with white bottoms and white dupatta on ALMOST[99%] all ur outfits[my H has given up on me :-(].
    3. For all the things u said abt make-up, I bet u know atleast how to put eyeliner. I DONT…honest.

    I can go on if u want πŸ˜›

    • I dont dwell on these things all tht much anymore but sometimes when I see perfectly manicured feet and hands I’m wistful. Even if I spend 5k getting the best M&P done its no use because I have perfectly terrible stubby fingers and toes :-(.

    • Hey soul sister, sari – yes, white bottoms and dupattas – yes I have black also in the collection, eye liner – what is that???
      πŸ˜€

  16. Three of my colleagues (thank God, just three) who fall into the first category daily make us go through such trauma and raise this question within us. Needless to describe our feelings while we have to encounter the picture perfect Arab women. :0
    Glad I landed here just on time for this exquisite piece!

  17. Not me!!
    I do dress alright. Nothing exceptional. But, I wear cotton salwars and Kurthas too.. My western office wear of trousers and shirts were always better than salwars!! πŸ˜€

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