When Bangla calendar has heralded the season Hemanto noted for the overhanging haze, there is surprise for all keen observers. First, the haze is missing. It gave for most part of the first week the false impression of the Autumn with patches of white clouds dotting a clear blue sky. Then suddenly rain came pouring without letup for two days. Temperature that soared came down to a level where it even reminded that winter was not far behind. But it did not take long to bring everyone back to reality. The mercury started climbing once again.
It was the time when village women gave finishing touches to their hand-stitched kantha (indigenous quilt) and the quilt makers started arriving in both towns and villages announcing their service with a wooden cotton thrashing device on their shoulder. They used to hit the strong string with a dumbbell-like piece against piles of cotton to prepare it for quilt. People were hardly accustomed to using blanket. Now the winter is hardly biting enough and also blankets are available in markets either in towns or villages. What makes the blankets particularly fashionable and attractive is the eye-catching plastic bag in which those are neatly tucked in.
That global warming has been on a relentless march is indisputable. Its impact is felt unmistakeably and life is undergoing transformation rather imperceptively but then all on a sudden after a few years people discover there has been a great change. Usually the countryside is cooler but apart from the country's north, the rest does not experience any chilly shiver even during the peak of the winter. A mere touch of water does not give the type of electric shock one received a few decades back.
In a changed situation, how has the sartorial make-up evolved over the years? In general, people in Bangladesh don more decently than they used to in the past. Thanks to the thriving garments industry, even the latest model of clothing is available here. When such apparels meant for export cannot satisfy the discerning eyes of quality controllers, they are disposed of in the local market and it is no secret that those are damn cheap. The defects of such clothing are not apparent to naked eyes. So, a fellow donning those look smart enough to the envy of citizens from neighbouring countries.
Yet the contrast one encounters in sartorial choices on a Dhaka street, say for example, on the footpath of Purana Paltan may be at times difficult to swallow. Usually, people wear trousers and shirts. Some do wear punjabi or fatua with narrow pajama or trouser. This has become, more or less, the norm. But then you come across someone suited and booted with ties hanging from his neck and that too under the scorching sun. On the opposite pole, a humble man then appears with only a gamchha (local version of towel) to hide his nakedness. He feels no embarrassment or unease amid the stream of people on the busy footpath in between the Press Club and the Purana Paltan bend. Then you come across a rickshaw-puller who has covered himself with two gamchas. He pleads with his rider for buying him a lungi. One wonders if one can manage two gamchhas, how impossible it is to manage a lungi! A good quality gamchha costs equal amount or even more than an ordinary lungi.
To take a look at villages where the young generation can compete with its urban counterpart in clothing varieties and sartorial fashion, there are still people who cover their nakedness with loin clothes. But it must readily be admitted that there has been a clothing revolution of sort in villages. The revolution on the fashion front --no matter oriental or occidental --has been taken to the extreme bordering on the bizarre. How? A look at the ripped jeans fashion parade held lately in the United States of America will raise the fundamental question if nudity could be more outrageous. Apart from an inch or so border embracing the waist of models, there is virtually not even a strip of what once was jeans. A piece of loin cloth is more modest than those jeans. The difference is: one goes for the loin cloth out of want and the other dispenses with intactness in favour of deliberately ripped portions to expose skins and, in the latest case, the ultimate modesty. It seems changed weather will invite more weird and outrageous fashions in the days to come.
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