Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What's sarong about that then?

The Sarong.

I've mentioned it in my blog before but, for those who didn't read it, let me refresh your memory. When David Beckham got all that publicity a few years ago for going out in the evening, I believe to a restaurant in France, I was delighted.


Simple. Because I thought it might herald the dawn of an era of "sarong acceptance" in the UK. Actually I don't mean acceptance, more fashion and haute couture. I have always wanted sarongs (on men) to become the latest trend, the thing that the stylish man around London is wearing. For a brief moment those couple of years ago I really thought Becks was the man to do the job. I was wrong, he wasn't up to it, just like he wasn't up to leading England in the last World Cup.

I have worn a sarong since I was a small child. Not the same one mind you. As a child who was brought up here in the UK sarong wearing was always a delicate subject that had to be approached with caution. I never wanted my British friends to witness the spectacle of me, their mate, wearing what they would see as some kind of skirt but, even at the tender age of about 10, I had the wisdom and superior intellect, coupled with my immense charm, to realise that there was no better type of nightwear. So, on occasions where a friend might have seen me in my bedclothes I'd make damn sure I was wearing pyjamas. To be honest the immense charm has nothing to do with anything, I just felt like adding it in there. The wisdom and superior intellect are somewhat questionable too, unless you're my Mother.

As I grew older I struggled with the concept of wearing pyjamas even more. They really are strange things and I can't figure out how people sleep in them. There's just too much restriction and bollocks must get caught and trapped all over the show. Even now, on rare mornings when I might wander around the house in a sarong, if the doorbell rings, I'm always a bit wary of getting caught by a Sudda and I'll try to bung some jeans on or something. I suppose the proactive way to handle such occurences would be to have a pair of trousers hidden near the front door just in case.

Sarongs have to be worn with the right attitude. They can be the nightwear type, the working men's type or the smart "national dress worn with pride" type and they all look good.

Some years ago I was staying at the Triton with some good Sri Lankan friends. When we met up to go for dinner one of our party, a bloke who is normally seen wearing jeans and very traditional western attire, had chosen to wear a sarong. I swear to you that it is a memory etched into my mind. Although something that is "etched into my mind" is more than likely to be the actual definition of a memory I think you know what I mean.

He had on a pristine and freshly ironed designer sarong, smart leather slippers and a tidy and pressed shirt. He genuinely looked the dog's. I think of him and cannot believe that sarongs haven't crossed over into western men's accepted dress at all.

The nightwear application of a sarong makes perfect sense. All of us Sri Lankans know that sleeping is easier and more comfortable in one. You put it on, go to bed and immediately undo the knot to let everything breathe and hang freely. Women don't understand the concept, it's not surprising as they have so little to adjust down there. They think they've got a raw deal with childbirth and periods and stuff but they've never had to deal with adjusting balls and talking to large breasted women without being caught staring. Except lesbians.

As I've got older I've become more blase about who sees me in a sarong. Most of my close friends know that I wear one in bed. Both my business partners, who I have spent many nights in hotels with, have got used to seeing me in one.

A while ago me and my 2 daughters held a competition to see if I could wear the same sarong every night for a year without my wife realising that it needed washing. To succeed in this mammoth task meant that I had to hide it every morning before I went to work to stop her spotting it and deciding it needed a wash. The smell of a good used sarong is great isn't it. Obviously it has to be one's own smell and one's own sarong but it's strangely comforting and reassuringly Sri Lankan. We got to six months in the "long wearing sarong" competition but then the wife found out and cruelly washed it.

It was a Barefoot one, of which I have many, I must apologise to all the Sansonis for the cruel mistreatment of their ware. I just couldn't bear the thought of wearing a sarong that I didn't like for near on a year. House of Fashion and all those places are ok for "working" sarongs but you can't get better than one of Barefoot's finest. I'm not the only one who thinks so either:


It's a strange thing this blogging and writing. Often I set out on a particular road, with a firm idea of where I want to go and what route I want to take, then I get distracted and digress, go off on tangent and babble. If I was one of those really creative types who write books and do very arty stuff I'd more than likely be in touch with that side of me and welcome and embrace the diversions. As it is I tend to feel rather guilty and embarassed that I have led you, the reader, astray.

Let me take you by the hand and guide you back to the path then.

Sarongs are great, just not accepted menswear in the UK yet. David Beckham couldn't do the trick. I have a feeling that James Bond is about the only man who could do it.

This lot certainly can't :


There are a couple of blokes here who have even got the things on their head! Fair play to them, whoever came up with the idea of a website full of pictures of scientists proving theories whilst wearing a sarong has got my vote every time.

I've got nothing against western blokes wearing them, but it has to be in the correct setting and done with the right attitude. I've seen many a tourist wearing one in Sri Lanka and look almost ok about it, but stick the same chap on a plane back to London and let him go out in a sarong, which they often want to do, and the fellow just looks like a twat. One who went to Sri Lanka once and bought a sarong.

The minute sarongs become trendy or acceptable here in England I'll be one of the first blokes out in the street with one on. Until then, I'll have to make do with jeans and k swiss trainers. I've written to the makers of the James Bond films just to let them know that I might be available for the next one if they need me.

They haven't responded yet, must be playing hard to get.


Darwin said...

Again, my dad always sleeps in a sarong. It would feel so strange to see him sleep in PJs, almost pansy-like...

Supun said...

Very witty article.
Man, wear your sarong and be free!! I don't know how it feels like, as I'm a girl..but if you feel like wearing it on the streets, do it! What is the worst that could happen..someone could look at you?

I remember some of my Sri Lankan friends wore it an Bondi Beach at Sydney..they were considered "totally cool".. they even got some glances from some girls!

Indyana said...

I was really laughing out loud reading this one! Our boys have been forced to like the sarong, as night wear, as hubby thinks it's got to do with handing down tradition!The boys of course, find it silly, but dare not tell daddy anything against his sarong pride!

kulendra said...

May be its the climate? *-) Ok may be stupid thought, but I've heard what some of the tourists who come over to SL and wear sarongs say; "its comfortable and.. windy" so may be .. u know its freezing out there and.... ;)

Dominic Sansoni said...

I think its clled Sarongdipity...

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Darwin - The more I hear, the more I like your Dad.

Supun - I think I might get away with wearing one as beachware but it's popping to Tesco in one that would probably get me beaten up here.

Indyana - In later years they won't be seen without one (maybe)

Kulendra - I'm sure climate is a factor but over here you don't see people wearing them even in the hottest of summers.

Dom - How about a book? Sarongs in exotic locations all over the world beautifully photographed. I would consider helping you out on this assignment. Just a bit of modelling, that sort of thing.

nazsansoni said...

depends how sexy and stylish one looks in one, isn't it?
my mum's family always looked so cool and comfortable in them. I loved wearing them when i was pregnant tied up under the arms..

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Naz - I look damn sexy and stylish in one too you know!

Anonymous said...

I used to wear my sleeping sarong to formal dinners at my hall of residence which were black tie affairs. Apparently, sarongs count as national dress, even batik ones!

Anonymous said...

Why do not you wear a sarong outdoors and to work? Why do you think that there is something wrong in wearing this cloth? Wearing a sarong does not harm or hurt anybody and you do not do bad things when you put it on. On the contrary, you preserve the culture of our ancestors who did not wear trousers, you support the cultural alternative and preserve the cultural diversity, you show to other people that there is the alternative ways of clothing and help them to choose freely what they want to wear. Besides this, you make a good choice because sarong is a very good cloth. It is comfortable, good from the practical point of view and beautiful. Sarong is colourful, it has ornaments and you can choose the colour and the ornament you like. Sarong leaves your legs open to the world which surrounds us and makes you closer to nature. You can feel the freshness of air, the strength of wind intensely. And it is not amazing that all the peoples which are known for their great cultures - egiptians, semitic, dravidian and indoeuropean peoples did not wear trousers. They simply understood that a towel wrapped around the waist and a long belted shirt are better and that there is no even one reasonable argument for wearing trousers. It is not surprising that spiritual teachers do not wear trousers. They understand that trousers are not pure from the spiritual point of view and are absolutely unfitable for those who seek the truth,who have decided to become free from all attachments. They know that a towel-like cloth is better.
Wearing a sarong is not a crossdressing. It has nothing to do with it. Towels have been worn by men from times immemorial. They are men's clothes. They are good at home and at work, indoors and outdoors. They are comfortable, good from the practical and spiritual point of view, beautiful and fitable in all the situations. They are much better than trousers and people who choose a towel-like cloth as their cloth are absolutely right.
P.S. Of all sarongs I think yemeni sarongs(ma'awaz) are the best. They are very nice. But I like sri lankian sarongs (saramas) too, though they are rather long.

Anonymous said...

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