Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I have a new pastime since going to Punjab: turban-watching.

All these years, I've grown up thinking that there are two kinds of Sikh turbans - one for the boys, one for the men.

The boys would have turbans shaped like an overturned bowl with an orange on top of it.
The men wore something that reminded me (in profile) of a submarine rising up out of the sea, or ( frontal view ), of crossed swords, in cotton sheaths.

Now, I notice that there are at least a dozen variations on the theme.

There's the turban that is more like a boat than a submarine - flat along the upper edge, and rounded on the lower edge (covering the ears).

Then, there's the type that's like a large muffin - round, a gently mound at the top, leading to a tight slope down the sides.

And the whole-cake turban. Which is perfectly round and rather flat-topped, with the ears exposed... some of the girls also wear something like this.

Then, there's a twisted-but-firm turban that makes me think of a large croissant.
The taller ones are often seen on the priests at the Gurudwaras.... They remind me of a tea-cosy. (You can tell I'm hungry right now, can't you?)

There's also the roughly-wound, loose-limbed turbans that several men in the villages wear. This is my favourite turban, incidentally. There's a certain casual ease about it, a certain lack of attitude, an unself-consciousness. These are often in checked, cheaper fabrics, and are often worn by working classes - agricultural labourers... cart-drivers... cattleherds.
(Rather telling, isn't it, that I can't find a single picture to link to, through I've trawled through the google image search for over an hour).


smriti said...

kitti paagal hai tu re!

IndianPad said...

The loose turbans resemble the ones worn by laborers at work sites. They keep the hair in place and are tied loosely so that they are not uncomfortable. fyi, Turbans can get quite uncomfortable if worn for a long time and are pretty hard on the ears (especially if you wear glasses).

david raphael israel said...

Ah, a new Zaidi taxonomy. Modes of transport; manners of beverage; and now: styles of headgear. In my view, you are exploring not only the world in your surround (as "Known Turf" nicely indicates); you're also demonstrating a pleasing taxonomical penchant. This was (it need hardly be added) a peculiar specialty of the Victorian / British sensibility (but equally has mirroring correlates in both Sanskritic and Islamic cultural antiquities, no doubt; or likewise in Chinese (and in its own ways, obviously Latin) far as that goes) writerly cultures . . .

-- but that's merely a cursory (meta) taxonomy of taxonomies. The present taxonomist (with her subjects of observation) seems most notable (finally) for something in narrative approach that I can't quite put words to (hard to isolate into constituent elements). Whatever it be, a readerly habituation ensues.

So: this enjoyed (& perchance more awaited). The hyperlinking's a help (description alone wouldn't well suffice in the instance).

jedi said...

I sure didnt know thr existed such a variety in turbans. i just tried imagining the croissant one and the ship like one. Tough. Very few sikhs in my locality. Anyways gonna take up turban-spotting majorly.

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I was a Sikh in my last janam said...

If Govinda was Sikh, what would be the colour of his turbans?

Anonymous said...

David are you hitting at Annie :)

david raphael israel said...

anon.: isn't that (definitively) a cheap shot? ;-)
However, allow me to reply in a more sympathetic (& perhaps high-minded) mode, if I might.

Peradventure my jottings wax copious
when discerning a natural taxonomist?
old Lamarck & dead Darwin had votaries
I'd laud loam were I born an agronomist
isn’t turf of Ms Zaidi’s observing
admiration-wise likewise deserving?

Everybody is busy writing dissertations on the gone prose stylists of lost centuries; if I prefer to write occasional, stray notes singling out & encouraging the exceptional traits of my (in some respects) obscure contemporaries, isn't this a harmless scholastic foible?

cheers, d.i.

shruti said...

hi annie...
this is shruti from TOI ur byline in a kala ghoda fiction story contest, and thought of saying hi. where are u nowdays?

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