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Wuhan se yahan: A brief excursion into sartorial diplomacy at the Mamallapuram summit


Oct. 13, 2019

All the native garbs of India gathered to celebrate the recognition and elevation of Dhoti to official status at an informal summit. India’s prime minister had worn Dhoti while welcoming China’s President in Mamallapuram, and there was jubilation among desi apparel, who had been resentful lately because they had been sidelined by Pant-Suit, a Western interloper.
“Well, good for you, Veshti!” said Lungi, Dhoti’s thambi (kid brother), using the Tamil colloquial. “Daai, now you won’t be jealous of me anymore.” Lungi had become a celebrity among global attires after a dance number he starred in had become a monster hit. A frisson of envy had coursed through the raiment world, as Lungi, flip and flirtatious, had taken the nation by storm. But not everyone was so bighearted as to enjoy Lungi’s success, now followed by Dhoti’s promotion. “Cut me some slacks, will ya?” snapped Shorts, curtly. Shorts was big in the West in summers, but he was also making sly advances in India, where he was known as Knicker or Chaddi. There was a time the PM wore him, but lately he had been discarded because of a dodgy reputation. Although he was derived from Pant, Knicker tried to pretend he was native by reciting Sanskrit shlokas, but no one was fooled.
“Who are you kidding?” sneered Panchakacham, a five-yard cousin of Dhoti, who believed he should have been the official or semi-official dress at Mamallapuram. A Brahmin by birth, Pancha believed he was superior to Dhoti aka Veshti, who was only four cubits long, an OBC to boot, and who he scornfully called Mundu.  He was even more derisive about Lungi, who was even lower down in the system and who he called Langot behind his back. Also stewing was Bandhgala, who too pretended to be native but was a rip-off from Pant-Suit. For long the Indian official wear, Bandhgala felt cheated; he should have been the PM’s dress and he should have gone toe-to-toe, or neck-to-neck, with the Chinese leader’s Changpao, the formal Chinese suit. Hopefully the next summit would be in some cold place in winter so they would get rid of these flaky Dhotis and Veshtis, Lungis and Laachas.
Watching the native outfits squabble, Pant-Suit smirked to himself. They can talk themselves ragged, he thought. This informality was a showy aberration and there was no point getting antsy. The truth was he had beaten the pants off the sartorial world and had the planet by the seat of its pants.
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