Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Who is designing (for) Kolkata?

On a recently concluded trip to the good, old Kolkata, I could not help but notice a few things – once I managed to set aside the inevitable deluge of nostalgia. First, there is a surfeit of cars on the streets, small cars, tall cars, large cars of all description, vying for space with three-wheelers, taxis, buses and lorries (all right, ‘trucks’ for my amigos Americanos), each determined not to concede an inch without a fight, random honkings and only the choicest abuses. The scenario is nothing new, but the sheer increase in quantum boggles the mind; not unexpectedly, therefore, every time you go out on the streets, the exposed areas of your body are slathered with a thick layer of grime, dust and dirt, and you come home bearing the evidence on the shirt collar and cuffs.

Secondly, there is an increase in young couples walking around everywhere holding hands – unheard of, even un-thought of, about 8-10 years back on Kolkata streets and parks and public places. Those intrepid few that dared would often be subjected to teasing and harassment from street-hoodlums and even policemen. I was glad to find that the overall level of sensitivity about young people in love has increased. Space, and consequently, privacy, is still at a premium, despite the availability of newly-built or renovated places such as parks and gardens, but at least, the young people are able to express their feelings and even engage in romantic overtures without the fear of undue interference and harassment.

But these are not what struck me most in the past couple of weeks. I was rather taken aback by the display of amazingly bad taste in clothing and apparels amongst the young Kolkata denizens of today. Who the heck is designing for Kolkata? The designs that I saw were atrocious, to say the least. I have never been one of the fashionistas, but there is a limit to tolerance! The trousers were poorly cut, had strange boxy pockets and umpteen straps hanging at unseemly places; the kurtas, shirts and tee-shirts were strangely designed leaving aesthetics completely out of the picture. The color combinations were terrible, with no synchronization, no contrast, and certainly no sense. One foggy morning I saw a young woman wearing a two-size too tight mauve shirt with a bright turquoise cotton skirt with tassels that were creeping inside her sandals; it jarred my eyes, cutting through the pollution-induced haze. I saw cargo Khaki trousers with belled bottoms, completely nullifying the efficient and no-nonsense look that one expects from Khakis. I saw cheapo-looking jeans with a color bleaching effect right on the butt, giving an impression that the wearer had been spanked with a paddle at exactly the same place repeatedly for several days. I saw reed-thin young men wearing XL-sized androgynous collarless, button-less, short kurtas of mind-numbing colors and designs. Who will tell the young women of Kolkata that if you must wear low-riders that put your underwear on display every time you sit down somewhere or straddle a motorbike, you need to wear classy, visually-appealing underwear as well? Young people are wearing dresses with an absolute disregard for appropriate body shapes and sizes, whereby ocular pain-inducing visuals, such as muffin tops, spare tyres, chicken legs and so forth, abound. The appalling apparels were neither Eastern, nor Western; there was no rebellion, no statement, and indeed, no rationality.

Who are the addled-brain idiots that are tailoring for this crowd?

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1 Comments:

Blogger Koli-Kotha said...

GRIN!!!! :D :D I hear you, brother!

Wed Mar 26, 10:50:00 AM EDT  

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