5… 4… 3… 2…1 … and it’s time to talk about Shreeman
|Vest stolen from Google|
If I could make a movie one day, I would make it on men’s baniyans. (Oops, will this post be banned by BMC for referring to men’s ander (wear) ki baat? Oh, that’s excluded from censorship? Praise be the lord!) Perhaps my movie will be a period drama called ‘The Unsung Hero’ or an action flick which ... Arrey, why do you smile? Okay, let me explain.
Sitting under the Baniyan Tree of Knowledge one day, I was musing about this and that when enlightenment in the form of the following flashed down from heavens above. It dawned upon my philosophical mind The Truth about this piece of men’s inner wear. And the conviction immediately translated into a letter to the PMO requesting them to declare the Baniyan the National Dress of India. Let’s see why!
Good character certificate
Do a thing first! Go to your balcony and peep at the neighbour’s clothes line, or observe your own. Is there
another piece of nearly-washed clothing hanging with so much humility as a man’s vest? So much humility and simplicity as is seen in a white (often blueish) baniyan is unmatched in any other piece of clothing. Absolutely no frills attached, and just a tiny little tag with a number statistic no one cares about. Even with grand canyons for arm holes and plunging necklines, they continue modest. One size can surely fit all, and some can even accommodate two and a half men, nearly. These low-key beings ask for no limelight, no prime time, no good quality washing powder and not even a passing reference in the crorepati fashion industry. They just quietly promote equality – since all baniyans look the same, feel the same, show the same and hide the same (almost). They are secular in nature – everyone wears one, and usually not in the colours of their flags. The Baniyan Brotherhood’s sense of fraternity can make any two strangers from different castes look like twins when wearing them. If this is not Constitution friendly, what is?
The name is enough
Look at the names they carry. While a sense of gender levelling and homeliness is kept in mind by calling some 'Rupa', most others can make you feel like studs if not look it. Amul Macho, Boss, VIP Supreme and even Dollar for that matter, considering its namesake currency continues so strong. I would surely name my 4th child after a baniyan I tell you, and perhaps encourage him/her to become a Jockey too. No, I am not jokey-ing around. I mean it! Why, even a mall in West Delhi is called ‘Vest-Gate’, as it should be, looking at the tattoos donning shimmery vests walking in with gota-zari women for formal lounges. It was sheer providence and the many hands of the many divine which made exactly one half of the ‘W’ of ‘West’ break to reveal the real ‘V’ for
Victory Vest inside, yo!
Such freedom of
expression impression the baniyan offers, you can spot them anywhere, on any occasion. Log into Facebook and see. You can combine it with a dhoti, with shorts, pants or even your favourite RSS-ish chaddi with drawstrings. Mamaji is wearing one and standing under the waterfall, even as mamiji’s three-piece suit tries to keep the dupatta in place. Retired uncle ji from one house away wears it all night all day, even when welcoming in the RWA executive for a crucial meeting. And chachaji flaunts a few holes, other than the ones for arms and neck, even as he lounges on the bed for a picture with his suited-booted bhateeja. Reminds me of an armour actually, with scars from war and wounds of battleground dotting it all over- be it rust, mite holes and even good old mera wala neel. Like they say - when you have earned them, you flaunt them. The newer-modern ones are worn to malls and other’s mansions for shopping or football-beer party, respectively. The older ones are worn everywhere else. Multi-faceted!
All this, even when Shreeman Baniyan asks for nothing in return. Completely selfless in service these daid-do meters of cloth. No ironing, no high maintenance and certainly no glitter-stone work and high-fashion cut. Why, it does not even care where it ends up one day when wounds of war far exceed counting ability. It becomes anything from a mop to chopped up dusters. Such good cotton, why throw, no? Or maybe it’s pure love for this humble inner wear (and not global warming) that makes men cling on to it, more and more.
As I type in Baniyan on Google’s 15th birthday doodle to look for a heroic image for this ode, I recoil in shame. It throws up ‘banyan bonsai’ in its result. We need more voices to join in the cause of promoting The Aam Baniyan. Giving it it’s rightfully earned pedestal. Justice needs to be done and fast. Start a sign campaign for making it the national dress of India at least.