The Sunday Leader

Up With The Vertis! Down With The Trousers!

  • Scene in Chennai
Cheers to the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association club for banning the entry of a Madras High Court judge wearing a dhoti and entering their club, pukka sahib Mike Gun called out at the bar of the Water Hole on Wednesday.

Mike Gun (Registered name Mahipala Gunawansa) continued: ‘Bloody good. I mean– a rule’s a rule. A code’s a code. If it’s there, it has to be observed but it does not happen in this part of the world. That’s why we are in this state. If Madras does not enforce it’s code, some ruddy justice wallah may go out to bat in boots, pads, gloves, cap and all that wearing a  verti’.

(The equivalent of the Indian dress dhoti or verti, in Sri Lanka is sarong)

What ‘cheers’ for that club. They deserve chappals (slippers) said Deshprem Abimanne, nationalist to the core, who hates everything western. They should ban that Madras club, was his idea.

 

Veneration of the judge or verti?

Is the resulting hullabaloo in Tamil Nadu caused by the club rules against the dhoti or the entry of a judge into the club premises being not permitted?  In South Asia because of its British colonial heritage judges are considered to be sacrosanct and are to be revered, unlike in many democracies where they have no special privileges other than in the exercise of their duties. Judges are usually considered to be ordinary citizens. Cannot a judge be turned back to prevent the club’s dress code being violated?  If an administrator, doctor or any other civilian clad in a dhoti was turned back would such a fuss involving the notable and quotable in the state have ensued?

So, is the current ha-ho in Tamil Nadu because of nationalist sentiments—the dhoti not being an open sesame at all places? Is it the sanctity of the judge or the dhoti or both at issue?

Now Jayalalithaa former heart throb of Kollywood ( Tamil Cinema), the present Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has got into the dhoti fray  describing the action of the Madras Cricket Club’s action as ‘Sartorial Despotism’ and vowing to enact legislation to prevent denial of dhoti clad people into clubs in Tamil  Nadu.

 

In Sri Lanka

There are a few ancient clubs in this country that too that have dress codes but the issue of our dhotis or sarongs rarely surface because the National Dress incorporates the sarong. The dress codes to official functions usually specify other forms including ‘National’. But the trouser has imperceptibly crept into the ‘National’ and come to get semi-official acceptance. It is appropriately called the kappati suit—- suit of the devious. The top half is of the National and the other half, the trouser. The sarong has been dropped without much ado.

Yet controversies do emerge here about dress codes. Time and again there have emerged young rebels in search of causes. There are not the Wijeweera or Prabakaran types but yet wanting to show off that they are different to the stereotypes. Their strategy is to flaunt themselves in conservative clubs or parties wearing gaudy sarongs. They are described by fashion writers in search of themes as: Avant- garde, radical, revolutionary, guerilla etc. They are taken note of only by fashion writers and photographers. Their day is made if entry is not permitted or is thrown out by clubs. The dwindling tribe that never really was has disappeared.

 

Gini jungi

Some male only clubs’ dress codes insist on ‘no shorts after dark’ to members and their guests. This rule has been contested as being illogical because women guests of members at times arrive hottest of hot pants— appropriately called gini- jungi by our Sinhala scribes. A conscientious objector to these tantalizing scenes was silenced with the question: Why don’t you like gini- jungi? Which school are you from?

Coming back to cricket, it does appear that in our neighbouring Tamil Nadu the cry is: Up with the verties (dhotis) and down with the trousers.

1 Comment for “Up With The Vertis! Down With The Trousers!”

  1. Trevor Jayetileke

    Gamma you are the BEST.
    You are a Pukka Sahib as your Waterhole is the Orient Club near Pembroke.
    Went to St.Thoma’s College, Mt.Lavinia.
    President of the Science Student’s Union of the University of Colombo (1964/5 ).
    Played in the 1st 15 Rugger Team of the University of Colombo (Wing Forward?).
    Wears only White Satin Drill Trousers and White Silk Shirts.
    I have still to see you in National Dress or its devious version.
    It was a pleasure knowing you in my University Days.
    Lastly but not the least you always carried a Novel in your Hip Pocket which is the Journey of your Heart., and you are the last of a disappearing Tribe of Scribes.

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