Searching for the stylish.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla finds this unshaven bespectacled man in a bus shelter in central Delhi’s Kasturba Gandhi Marg. He is wearing a khadi kurta and faded blue jeans. A bag is slung around his shoulder.
In her 2010 book The Fabric of Our Lives: The Story of Fabindia, author Radhika Singh traces this style to the Delhi of the 1970s:
Kurtas were unisex and ideologically trendy. Most university wore kurtas over their jeans and kolhapuri chappals, and carried cloth sling bags called ‘jholas’. That was the ‘look’, and the handspun style served the Delhi teenagers of post-independent India very well.
Delhi was decidedly leftist in that decade. Today, a right-wing government is seated in the capital. What is the ideology of this kurta-jeans wearing man? Is he for or against Thomas Piketty’s findings on capitalism?
In her 2014 book Green Wars: Dispatches from a Vanishing World, journalist Bahar Dutt makes references to this sartorial combination while telling the tragic story of a campaigner:
Sanjoy was kidnapped by the extremist outfit ULFA (United Liberation Front for Assam) that was demanding independence for Assam from India. He was never found again. I still remember the last time I saw him, on that ill-fated morning. He was leaving for the village in his jeans and a long khadi kurta…
Holding on to ideologies is life threatening. Hopefully this idealistic-looking man’s attachment to his dress is just skin deep. Only then will he survive and flourish in this city.
At least, outwardly leftist