Monday, November 20, 2006

Dupatta or pants-suit?

Getting dressed for work today put me in a quandary. A few years ago, when I reported a series for Newsday on the new Indian economy, I wore salwar kameez to most of my interviews. In years past, I have switched between pants and salwars, depending on the setting. This morning, I wondered.

So I settled on a lime-green and blue suit that has a Nehru-wannabe kind of collar. As I did my makeup, I looked at the Lakme sindoor stick in my bag with a pang. Should I put a drop of it on my hairline so folks know I am married?

I had the same question last fall, as I reported on the new India for the Washington Post, and my sister-in-law dragged me with her to a Diwali party. About to sport the sindoor, my niece Ananya said with exasperation, "Mitra Chachi, do not put on the sindoor. It makes you look old and this is Delhi: Nobody wears sindoor anymore!"

I put it on anyway and retorted: "Ananya, without the sindoor, I would not even be your chachi!"

But this morning, I passed and tried to part my hair to the side. The wedding ring's enough, I reasoned. Although all the forms I filled out did ask me for the name of my father/husband...

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