Sunday, December 04, 2005

101 Uses for a Dupatta

Author's note: the dupatta is a major women's accessory in India, a long scarf, roughly 1.5 metres long and 12-24" wide, that is meant to be draped across the chest for modesty. At first one chafes at the added heat and bulk of this garment, but during one's travels, it proves to come in handy with a thousand uses. Dupattas are best chosen in a dark colour to match all your outfits and not show dirt. After washing in your trusty bathroom bucket (remind me to explain the bucket system in a later post), a cotton dupatta dries in the Indian sun in a matter of minutes. How did I ever travel without one?

Let me count the ways....

1. Wiping your dripping hands after the restaurant "hand wash" (there is never a towel)

2. Covering your nose against diesel fumes, stench of urine and sewers, et al

3. Impromptu monsoon-season umbrella

4. Shade from blazing afternoon sun (the rest of the year)

5. Thin shawl against morning chill

6. Bath towel

7. Extra bedsheet, or use to cover the filthy pillowcase the hotel never changes

8. (when folded) Pillow on long bus or train ride

9. Head scarf for Sikh gurudwara, Muslim mosque or Parsi temple

10. Wrapping breakables inside your luggage

11. Instant Moghul princess costume (above)

12. Blindfold during terrifying bus ride (below)

13. Curtain in cheap hotel room

14. Change purse (small bills and even coins can be tied securely in one knotted corner)

15. Tourniquet for cobra bite

16. Wrap-around skirt/sarong / Beach coverup

17. Tea strainer

18. Kidnapping blindfold (useful in Bihar)

19. Balinese/Sri Lankan waist sash

20. Add your own here!


Shinu Mathew said...

I loved the use of it in Bihar.
Kidnapping is rampant and these come handy when you need it most :)
Have you been recently to Kerala?
The photos are amazing!
Way to go friend!

sajith said...

Hehe. Indian women knew it ages before Douglas Adams! (Towel, dupatta, whatever - it's the function that matters, not form.) :D

SSBaldwin said...

My chunni is a sweat-wipe, a pillow if I need one, an eco-friendly kleenex, a sun-shade, a fly-swat, a purse, a napkin, a towel, a veil, a curtain giving me private space, a flirtation prop, a fashion statement, a compress, a bandage --- on and on.

Dan said...

hehe, and what do we poor guys do?
We miss all those advantages! ;)

Cyn said...

Hehe I must admit I used quite a lot of those use, I live in India and I even muse my old dupattas as curtains to reduce the shine effect on my TV LOL.
I also used it as a blind fold in trains, because there is always one idiot that will leave the light on and prevent anybody else in the vincinity from sleeping more or less well. It also comes very handy as a duster before sitting in a flithy chair or bench, just have to remember not to use the same end to wipe clean hands after a handwash though, because oftent he place that have no towels in th e washroom, have filty seats and tables to wipe before the meal.

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