Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 24, Tuesday June 17, 2008


The thing with panjabi..

There was a time when it was absurd for a man to make what we now so pretentiously call: a "fashion statement". Times have changed. And the dictionaries have been revised to embrace the word "metrosexuality". What's more, it's been a while since our Sub-continental culture has been caught up in its web. Styles and trends have changed. This week, we specifically focus on a man's staple: the panjabi, and how its face and flare have evolved through time. We had a 101 chitchat with Mayasir's fashion designer, Maheen Khan, to give us an insight.

In the first place, the word "panjabi" is a misnomer. Maheen Khan says: "The word gives off an impression that it is from Punjab, or is exclusive to the people from Punjab". This, of course, is not the case. "The more appropriate term", she says. "is, 'kurta'".

She also recounts the inception of this style of clothing: "Kurtas go back to the Muhgal and the Indian Muslim tradition. It showed off the status of the Muslim landed gentry of the Bengal," she says, "With time, it dispersed to other regions, and its styles and variations have been moulded accordingly."

There are different types of fabrics for panjabi, of which the most common are silk and cotton. The former is more stylish and is usually reserved for formal occasions like weddings and parties. The latter, by contrast, is lighter and more casual. "The heat of the season demands lighter wear," says Maheen Khan, "so cotton is primarily what men take to. The weather doesn't permit heavy materials. Further, cotton panjabi, being an easy wear, is attractive for youngsters when it comes to dressing for colleges and universities."

The colour schemes have come some distant as well. "Traditionally the fundamentals for a man were white and ivory, and perhaps black. But now men are moving towards more feminine and bright colours, like green, blue and often even orange and pink." What comes across clear is that men are using the colour palette as a tool for making fashion statements. "Hot colours for this season are green, turquoise and sand-colours (eg. ivory, beige, etc.). But notably, people are moving away from the embroidered look."

Moreover, panjabi has gotten shorter and become more tapered to the body. Men tend to go for the fitted look. Styles have also changed. Panjabi now has collars, giving it the more Indo-Western look. There are also cuffs and full sleeves, and we also find pockets on the outside these days.

By Shahmuddin Ahmed Siddiky
Photo: Munem Wasif
Ensemble and styling: Maheen Khan, Designer, Mayasir
Make-up and hairstyle: Farzana Shakil
Model: Ronny
Location: Sheraton, Dhaka
Our special thanks to Sinthia Siraj of Sheraton, Dhaka for giving us her all-out support while doing the photoshoot.

Men's night out

No matter how much he loves the women in his life (and maybe a few outside of it!) there comes the time in every man's life when he would just like to tune out the fairer sex for a little while and hang out with "the boys" and just chill out. It's a guy thing, and this week, we talked to some of these guys to find out what this men's night out is all about.

We discovered that the necessity of spending time with male pals stood as one of the utmost priorities. Shakur, a young entrepreneur says that it is more enjoyable when he meets his pals under the open sky and then “after a 'teasing' session lasting a considerable amount of time, we go to some eateries which do not tax our wallets!” He exclaims that without such a night out with his friends, it becomes rather difficult for him to keep breathing in the stale air of the city. Quite contrastingly, when asked Joynuddin, a young rickshaw puller of age 23, denied of taking any break with his male pals, he retorted 'shomoi koi!' However, he added on that he enjoyed such opportunities back in the village, where he used to meet his pals at the local bazaar .He now misses those gossips with friends after those hard days of farm works.

Emran, a married man marks the time spent with his male friends as 'quality time', which equals in its importance to spending time with the family. When asked if there is any form of secret sharing in this kind of party, he smiles to answer that although he shares literally everything with his wife who was the love of his life for a long time, he communicates with his friends differently. With male friends he needs not care about how he puts his stories or comments or doesn't mind making an offensive remark. They are less prone to be hurt and can be made fun of without a second thought. With his family members he dares not take that risk!

For the unmarried ones, chilling out with friends is more of fun than respite. It is also a platform where they will mercilessly show off their achievements! True, but these sorts of cruel acts are also important once in a while. Without appreciation any achievement might look as blurred as just another incident. Friends are reported to assure and recognize one's successes or failures. One of these guys calls himself 'an introvert' and assures, “When I first started going out with my girl, I truly felt the need of appreciation from my pals. It is they who made me feel great about all the feelings I had for her and still have so consistently”. Being an introvert he knew very little about the responsibilities in a relationship whereas his 'pundit' friends (as he puts it) enlightened him on that matter!

A creative group of friends known as NOMADZ once in a while takes the whole night out. Then they stroll in the quiet streets of the city in the dark exploring the vastness of space and sky that surprisingly go missing in the hullabaloos of daylight! And the good news is the inn-keepers of small restaurants do not mind serving them lip smacking steamy foods even at the dead of night!

It is a matter of finding space, within the confines of the social ties that bind us. Wedlock opens up a new frontier of uncharted territory but to leave the past behind, the way it stands, corners the soul. Life is all about juggling priorities. An individual bogged down with work and familial matters requires a few moment of respite to breathe. Friends of the past are merely one way of achieving that. Bogged down by innumerable responsibilities and labels that society burdens us with; the soul searches for an escape or at least a break. Men's night out in Dhaka is such an endeavour by men to find respite from the old clichés of life!

By Fatima Tuz Zahra


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