The "Battle of the Bulges"...

The "Battle of the Bulges"...
(A brilliantly penned article, from the 'leaves' of a former Air Warrior, (Air Force officer), Suresh Panje)....

"At the outset let me admit, that I am not an old beak attired in black robes, to decide the much ado about what is ‘choli ke peeche?’ I even apprehend some vague order of contempt of the court for imagining that the learned judge would have repeatedly tried to ascertain the truth, if not with his better half, at least from the maid on the sly - of course, all in the cause of the next day’s judgment over a serious social controversy, vis-a-vis, what lies behind the blouse.
Yes, we have to opine it as a social cause, since it is the attire which enhances one’s personality & status. That reminds me, how prior to the advent of those narrow ‘drain-pipe’ & the later 'bell-bottom' trends, the pants had a fold at the bottom, where occasions were aplenty, ‘converting’ white pajamas into trousers, by the mere flick of an upper fold at the bottom. The pants in the wardrobe of one in the early teens being ‘rationed’, white pajamas came in handy for a superior image.
As for shirts, my brother, Dinesh's gift is a memorable rhapsody. The day he bagged his first pay back in 1961, the pavements of Majestic in Bangalore were flooded with Singapore nylon shirts. Loaded with Rs.225, the urge in him was to treat his two brothers, Ramesh & Suresh, with the best bargain. The hawkers’ amplified cries, lured him to buy a piece each, of full-sleeved shirts. He even bought pretty cufflinks to match the ‘phoren’ nylon shirts’ double cuffs. For three days at a stretch, I literally grafted the shirt over my skin & on the third day when the collar seemed somewhat soiled, I wished to give it a gentle wash.
Dreading the dhobi’s bleaching it in the ‘bhatti’ & our servant thrashing it on the washing stone in the backyard, I had to literally spend half a cake of expensive eau-de-cologne soap to cleanse it.
Believe it or not, after two rinses, my grand aunt had to rush to me & wash my tears away....the blessed shirt, had become one short of a slack. The sole consolation for the trio of us was, that Dinesh was pretty wise in not buying half-sleeved shirts, lest we become the proud owners of imported nylon sleeveless vests!
Although, today I move around awfully attired, even attending cocktail parties in baggy garments, the nine & odd years I spent in the Air Force, did teach me meticulous dress mannerisms & I had that rare experience of the uniform infusing a spirit of discipline, a concept almost all the service personnel would vouch to be an eternal fact. On occasions when we used to be in the white shorts & T-shirts for the rigours of PT (physical torture), no amount of balking or yelling by the instructor & even the squadron commander, could mould us into an orderly lot.
Presto, the same bunch in the ‘eagled’ uniform was an entirely different story. Systematic in every move, any onlooker, certainly, would have been baffled at the turn of events by a mere uniform, be it the winter BG tunics or the summer khaki-drill cottons & terry-cots - an effect so strong, that had Adam been sent to Eden dressed in an Air Force uniform & not with a fig leaf, he would have never sinned!
These thoughts did surface alongside the ‘choli’ controversy. A controversy, with an ideal meaning in itself, since what is worn under the ‘choli’ is defined as the one making 'mountains out of molehills'. All said & done, let us hope the judicial pundits would remember the Chinese novelist, Lin Yutang’s words: All women’s dresses are merely variations on the external struggle between the admitted desire to dress & the unadmitted desire to undress.
With this in mind, may the legal luminaries conclude that the ‘choli’ song could rent the air as long as no 'see-through' blouses are worn & no curious x-rayed eyes pop out. A needless legal battle so to say, to imply the lyrical meaning which in fact, is a "battle of the bulges."

Super reading, right? That's Suresh Panje, for you.



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