Searching for the stylish.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Apparently, for men in hot and humid cities such as Delhi, the ubiquitous lungi is the next best thing to being naked. A sheet of cloth wrapped around legs, it is said to ventilate the body’s lower regions.
Many Delhiwallas wear lungis at home but only the really daring men wear this bedroom outfit in public. Unfortunately, this city has no dearth of such bold men. Of course, The Delhi Walla is not aiming to disrespect the city’s labourers, rickshaw-pullers, dhaba cooks, butchers, street vendors and other men of similarly challenging professions – they resort to the aforementioned costume to keep themselves less sticky in the savage heat.
One day, however, I came across a lungi aesthete. A milkman in Old Delhi’s Lal Kuan, the elderly gentleman claimed to be one of the very few in the area to follow the “right” style of dressing in a lungi. Wearing it in the middle of the street, the man tied the knot of his lungi on the front, rather than on the side, the more common practice.
“Every year I get a new stock of lungis from my relatives in Karachi,” he said. “The good lungis are made in Pakistan, not India.”
Standing proud in his costume, with a turban on his head, the man was an erect torch-bearer of Delhi’s lungi tradition.