On my recent holiday to Europe, I visited a couple of exotic and beautiful beaches. The place was teeming with tourists, mostly European and Australian. These tourists covered a wide span of age from young girls to their grannies but one thing common amongst the female tourists was the uniformity in their costume. All of them were in their two-piece swim suits irrespective of their age or size. This is the accepted and appropriate attire in their culture for the purpose of swimming or wading whether in a pool or the open sea. It has no association to size zero or toned bodies in revealing costumes, as is evoked in the Indian perception.
Shortly after my European vacation, I had a quick retreat at one of Pondicherry’s beach resort. The sand was soft and surprisingly even the beach was clean as in Europe. However, there was one stark contrast, I now saw the crowd specifically women sea bathing in varied costumes. Little girls of four and five years were in their colorful floral swimsuits. Teenage girls of seventeen – eighteen were in slacks and t-shirts. And the more grown up ones were in salwar suits and yes a few of them even in sarees. No Indian living in India will be either astonished or bewildered at this scene and neither was I. it’s just that the European holiday was still a fresh memory and the simultaneous slides of the foreign beach with the local beach made me chuckle.
Seeing it from my pragmatic seat, it totally amused and amazed me. My amusement went a little further when the saree clad ladies took a plunge in the swimming pool in the same costume. Now this was a bit too much even for my realistic sensibilities. Yet from my unprejudiced recliner, I realized for the first time that however non-topical or frivolous our actions or behavior may seem, they are the result of our history and after undergoing a mutant transformation over centuries they influence a future culture.