Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Turbanators

I am surrounded by them. There are variations in length, the fabric and colour preferences but in spirit, the men who sport these contraptions share traits and tendencies. I should know. They are my family!

There is that same possessiveness about and a hawk like eye on their turbans. Woes betide a shabby starch work or a bad rinse; frenetic and frantic actions will follow. They each have their personal rituals for their head swathes. One will dip the meters only in water and dry the cloth exclusively in shade, another likes to give his turban just that swish in light starch, there is even a brief hanging over the tap component.

It is quite a process. Stretching, tweaking, tucking, pulling, pinning. The pin cushion and the sikhometer execute a giddy roundabout as the voil and rubia crowns metamorphose into proud headgears. So critical is it to get the last tail end just the right length that very often, the household will fall silent and await the final tuck in with bated breath. My Dad is not shy of emitting a nervous hissing sound during the turban tying task. There is a collective sigh of relief at the successful conclusion of this sartorial segment!

It is the most time consuming task of a turbanator’s dressing ritual. He is lethal and quick as lightening once the turban is out of the way.

Shopping for turbans is a project. Families understand and appreciate the effort and time involved in the matching, finishing, dyeing of these drapes. They will pronounce with an appropriate solemnity the fact that their Singh has gone “turban acquiring”.

Some amount of fretting is expected over the exact shade and hue, there might even be heartburn over an inaccurate colouring. An occasional foul mood over this head wrap does not surprise and the non-turbanators know when and how to skirt and tiptoe around the prickly issue.

Heaven help those ignoramuses who put the turban to rest any place low and in a manner considered casual or dismissive. The turban is a symbol of a man’s pride, of a Sikh’s honour. A blemish on the turban is a blot, an insult to the wearer's person. To snatch away the turban historically meant subjugating a person and humiliating him.The turban will therefore, always go atop someplace high for that rest. 

Whether nokdaar, atpati or Patiala shahi, mixed or matched to contrast, gota patti or shiny starched… the turban is a sacred heritage. A heritage of dignity, self-respect, authority, stoic courage and the crown of spirituality.

That it adds up to an imperious and handsome look, barely does any harm!

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