Posted in Sri Lanka, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

Graceful as Hippo in a Tutu

hippo-in-tutu

Not that I am clumsy, but certain outfits make me feel like I am walking on stilts.  It’s not the shoes,  but it is the clothing that makes me and my family nervous.

Although now living in Australia, I originally hail from the little island of Sri Lanka.  Our traditional garb is a saree.  We don’t wear it everyday, but required to wear it for most traditional events, such as weddings and engagement parties etc.

The first time a girl wears a saree is on her coming of age ceremony. However, she then goes on to wear other half hearted versions of the saree.  I guess, I should explain what a saree is first.

saree

This amazing outfit, has no zips or buttons, just held together with a few pins and a lot of hope.  Have you seen the advertisements for couch covers?  On the ad you see a well made couch, with pleats and bows.  And you think amazing, this will give my dead couch the face lift.  And you order the couch cover in.  And voila you open the online order delivery package, and what do you find, well in fact, just a really great long piece of material. The pleats and bows are up to you or you could just throw it over the couch or throw the couch itself. Some are talented and after the initial disappointment of seeing a long piece of material they can make something of it. However not everyone is that talented or successful.  Well it is the same with a saree.  It is just a piece of material that is 6 yards long.

You wear a blouse that is really tight.  Really tight, sleeves the body, and all over.  It’s like wearing a swim suit made out of cotton.  By the time you get in to the blouse you are out of breath.  This is the Indian version of the Victorian era Bodice.

Then comes the underskirt. This skirt does not have an elastic, noo… it has a rope/cord. Which once again is used to tie it really tight. Now that your boobs are squished and a cord that has stopped circulation around your waist line, you now start draping the six yard material by tucking one end of it into the skirt.  The more advanced you are, you use less pins to form the shape above.  It is harder than you think or it looks.  Although for most of my country folk it comes rather naturally.  Then again for most, gardening comes very naturally while I manage to kill even a cactus.

I have to admit the saree does make most look very graceful and elegant.

Front on, in this picture you can’t see any body.  But, don’t be fooled.  There is a massive gap between the blouse and where the skirt starts.  So from side on there is a great view of the woman’s midriff.  So to assume that this is a graceful and conservative garb is not entirely correct.  However, the elders of the society will not accept you rocking up in a pair of pants and a top that covers the midriff.

Coming back to when do we start to wear the saree.  Traditionally the first day would be on your coming of age ceremony.  But then after that you are not required to wear it until you are in your late teens.  As I said there are half hearted saree like garb that are acceptable by the society.

half-saree

Which is pretty much an elaborate skirt and a shawl that pretends to be half a saree.  But at this age you are not rebelling.  Because this is a new experience.  And this is just dressing up to be half an adult.  Remember helping dad to wash the car.  Yep, the novelty wears off.  But to begin with you are very excited, then by the time you are old enough to actually help, you are no where to be seen.  Well not for everyone.  Many love wearing the saree.  I am still waiting for that day.

Sarees are one size fits all.  And I think that is one of the problems for me.  I am even short for an average Sri Lankan or Indian.  And so a lot has to be tucked into my skirt.  And you have to also walk very lady like.  When growing up, when my mum couldn’t find me, all she had to do was look up a tree.  And she would find me quite comfortably perched on a branch, reading a book and munching on the fruits.

I wouldn’t call myself a complete tomboy.  I like getting a pedicure, buy shoes and handbags.  But, find pants in winter and shorts in summer as a very practical garb. High heels is not that practical but they do make me look a bit taller.  So when I wear a high heel with a saree the outcome can be very interesting.  My mum is the only one who can successfully drape me.  When I say successfully, I mean with minimum scene.  I walk in like a wound up robotic doll and take a seat and hope to never get up again.  Unless I am walking, I look very graceful.  What annoys me most now is some our international relatives have taken to wearing the saree for our functions.  And seem to be walking around, as if they have been wearing it all their life.

Mum and I went to Japan last year.  “When in Rome”….  Decided we should try wearing the Kimono.

kimono-uma

I was really excited.  There are places where you can hire these outfits and they drape it for you and you can hang on to them for the rest of the day.  You can walk around that little city area.  So you get the whole experience.  Same deal.  Traditional outfits for women were designed to restrict their breathing.  Or, it was like breast check, this was more like rib check.  By the time I came down those steep stairs and out the door, I had realised that these type of garbs looks nice on other women or on a manikin rather than on me.  Once again my mum walked around as if she has been wearing this all her life.

I think this hippo has learnt it’s lesson and quite happy with her pants.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/graceful/

Posted in Daily post, Sri Lanka, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

First day back after a month’s silence

 

gsck

It’s nearly a month since I wrote anything.  Many reasons but mainly because of the reunion.  I missed writing.  With work and reunion planning and then a full house did not give me much opportunity to write.  I sat down for a bit yesterday to write.  After staring at the keyboard I retreated back to just liking things on facebook.  Looked at the Daily Post word prompt to get a start.  The word is Breakthrough.  All I could think of was the scene on “Good will hunting”, Robin Williams telling Matt Damon “It’s not your fault”, It was fresh in my mind, as I had just watched it for the millionth time today.  I am no movie critic, if I was, it would be a pretty short one, “I liked that movie or I didn’t really like that”.  So I started to read a few of the other contributions under the topic “breakthrough”. There was one from hotwhitesnow on writers block.  Exactly what I needed to breakthrough the fog.

https://hotwhitesnow.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/writing-through-writers-block/comment-page-1/#comment-989

Months of planning,  too and fro about the date, the venue, the numbers, catering, table decor, the list goes on.  Finally the girls were at our doorsteps and the day was here.

Some of us were meeting after nearly thirty years.  We attended a school called Good Shepherd Convent, (in Kandy, Sri Lanka).  Most westerners when they hear the end of the name “Convent”, they wonder if I was going to be a nun. The schools were originally established by the English missionaries.  We didn’t have many co-ed Schools.  So the girls schools were always attached to a nunnery and hence the name Convent.  The nuns ran the school and the boarding.

Kandy is the capital of the Hill country.  Most of the hills region are Tea Plantations.  So, other than a handful of so called staff the rest would be Indian labour force brought in by the English to work on the tea fields.  Woes of this labour force is a story for another day. Education was not the major priority for these folks.  Needless to say the local schools were really not geared for higher education.  So most of the parents sent their kids to boarding schools in Kandy or Colombo.  Parents of girls mainly preferred to send their daughters to Catholic schools, even those who were not Catholics. They liked the discipline and conservative up bringing.  I am rolling my eyes at this last sentence.  Still let me continue.

Our school stands tall and proud on that hill and gives me goosebumps every time I see a picture of it or hear the school anthem ” Triumphantly we raise it the standard of our school, oh may we ever be faithful to our Alma mater’s rule…”

I am not totally sure if we became well disciplined or more rebellious, I am not sure if we adhered to the conservative up bringing or became more free thinkers, but I am certain that in spite of the rubbish we had to put up we became quite bonded.  We became a family.  I think we were united against that common enemy, the nuns of course.

With the civil war, marriage and migration most of us dispersed to different parts of the world.  I lost contact with all of them.  It was as if I had no childhood friends.  My husband, his work and his circle of friends became my life.  Then after the kids, it was the kids, hospitals trips, coughs and colds, Nebuliser and Ventolin became my life. No complains, it was my choice, well not much of a choice, that was what unfolded, life was dumped on me and I had to run with it.

Then probably about 7 years ago, I gave into joining Facebook.  I had just come out of surgery.  I had just been given the news that I have survived cancer.  I had a major phiffany, “life’s too short to be doing just mundane things”.  I had this major urge to connect with people that I had lost contact, from my old work places, from my old school etc.

Stumbled across Amalie on facebook.  I only knew Amalie vaguely.   She was younger than me and she was a day scholar.  I only knew her because she used to hang out with Didi (a fellow boarder).  I sent her friend request anyway.  Seeing I was from the same Alma Mater, she accepted.  That was the beginning.  She was friends with a truck load of my friends from the boarding.

Some of us had changed in shapes and sizes.  Many a OMG’s followed by “how many kids? Messages going back and forth, especially between me and Suzy girl.  Then I found Binah. We were the best of buddies in the boarding.  She left for Canada before finishing school.  I was distraught when she left. Binah couldn’t wait any longer.  She rang me earlier than the time we decided to call each other.  We were just so happy.  Then came a few other moments like that when I chatted with Praba and Malini.  Found out that Vasugi lives in Brisbane and Tessa in Victoria.  Shazee had not changed much at all.  Just had longer hair.

Learnt that we’ve all gone through various pain and happiness.  Some had lost their husbands, while some regretted their marriage.  Some had lost a child and fighting with every might to continue.   Some had done well in their careers and some not so.  Some of us survived the dreaded C but sadly some didn’t.

But when we chatter, for that moment, we are back in school.  We are connected by the memories of that school.  We are once again united by that school. I am still trying to recover from that one week of partying.  We laughed more than we drank.  We danced more than we slept.  That was a reunion to remember.

2016-09-24-19-49-34

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/breakthrough/