Vizag Features

March 2003


Navy Chief in town to present Gallantry Awards

The prestigious Gallantry and Distinguished Service medals were awarded on 24-03-2003 by Admiral Madhvendra Singh, the Chief of the Naval Staff, to 36 naval personnel at the Naval Investiture Ceremony held at the Naval Base at Vizag. Naval dignitaries including Vice-Admiral Raman Puri and the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command graced the investiture ceremony. Civilian dignitaries including the Municipal Commissioner and the Commissioner of Police were also present on the occasion, besides relatives of the award winners and service personnel.

Investiture Ceremony Group

Capt. Rajesh Sarin of WNC, who topped the list of Nao Sena Medals (Gallantry) awardees, was lauded for his bravery and initiative in the face of danger while operating as the commanding officer of the submarine, INS Sindhushastra, in the vicinity of the adversary's sea frontier in December 2001 following the attack on the Indian Parliament. He is seen here receiving the honour.

Capt. Rajesh Sarin being awarded Nao Sena Medal Gallantry

Ugadi shopping bargains

 It's time once again to taste the bittersweet pangs of life with Ugadi Pachidi on your palate. It's time to welcome the sultry season and look forward to the new year with renewed vigour, even as you look back on the bygone year with nostalgia. Yet, as life moves onward, the past slips away imperceptibly as you get busy with the cleanups, Saree getting the decorative kolams in place, even as your hopes and fears swing to and fro with the rhythm of those neem and mango leaves elaborately hung across your front door to mark the auspicious Ugadi.

It is great that Ugadi, the Telugu New Year, also coincides with the end of the financial year on the English calendar and since it's time to exchange gifts or even shop for oneself and the family, you could always make the best of bargains with the city's leading shops offering massive discounts on saris, cosmetics and accessories. But lady, you have to have an eye out for them to spot them, you bet! took a look round some shops at Jagdamba Centre to see what they had on offer for you to "save as you shop" for Ugadi. Our first stop was at the elaborately laid out CMR Shopping Mall, where you would find the widest variety of saris and readymades under one roof besides separate counters for toys and stationery, cosmetics and silver jewellery. Cottons seemed the most attractive at CMR, with prices ranging between Rs 98 and Rs 1200. Printed and dyed cotton saris for daily wear were priced between Rs 150 and Rs 250. Gadwals were priced between Rs 756 and Rs 5000 and pure silks between Rs 800 and Rs 3000.

Cosmetics counters offered a 5% discount on Lakme and Revlon products and all brands of deodorants came at a flat discount of 15%. Single bedsheets were priced at Rs 78 onwards and the double ones Rs 220 onwards. Cotton salwar suits for ladies were priced at Rs 270 onwards.

CMR also had a range of the latest readymades for teenyboppers and clothes of the Gen-ext kind with tank tops, skintight trousers and parallels. Sleeveless tank tops were priced at Rs 78 onwards, which seemed highly affordable considering such clothes still being "in". Branded shorts for men and boys came at Rs 350 onwards and trousers at Rs 450 onwards. Silver bindi boxes came priced between Rs 130 and Rs 600, silver tiffin plates were priced at around Rs 2000 and rice plates at around Rs 4000.

At Putchala Sari Mandir, Bengal cottons were priced between Rs 200 and Rs 1000, all coming at a flat discount of 20%. The prices of Madurai cottons, Chirela cottons, Guntur saris, resplendent Venkatgiri handlooms and Madurai handlooms ranged between Rs 300 and Rs 600. Bangalore silks were priced between Rs 400 and Rs 1000 with a flat discount of 20% on the entire stock.

Newer entrants to the market like Sri Ram Silks offered a 30% discount on Bengal cottons, all silks and special cotton prints. The prices of Bengal cottons ranged from Rs 300 to Rs 5000. Among silks, the prices of Kanjivarams ranged between Rs 3000 and Rs 6000 and Gadwals between Rs 1000 and Rs 2000. Besides these, the shop had a variety of kotas, Pochampallis and Bengal silks as well.

Fashion Silk House Extension offered a limited period discount from March 17th to 21st, during which time cottons priced between Rs 400 and Rs 1000 and sold at 30% discount and Kotas priced between Rs 360 and Rs 1000 sold at 40% discount. Discounts ranging from 30% to 50% were on offer on Banarasis priced between Rs 4000 and Rs 8000 and South handlooms priced between Rs 1000 and Rs 2000. There were also discounts on other varieties including Pune silks, chiffons, crepes and embroidered saris.

Bommana Exclusive too offered discounts on cheap cotton saris which, compared to CMR in terms of variety and prices, fell short of one’s expectations. The discounts too were mostly on cheap cottons and synthetics. There were no discounts however, on high-end silks including the really enticing fresh stocks of tissue Banarasis and raw silks that came within the four-figure price range.

Walking down Jagdamba centre, you would notice how so many other things you always wanted to buy came at discounted prices. Like a 30% rebate on selected Reebok products. Like handbags for ladies that sold round the kerb at "cost prices", with midsized denim and velvet bags selling between Rs 50 and Rs 80. Metal-look sling purses sold at Rs 80 onwards. As for accessories that go with saris, petticoats of normal size sold at Rs 35 each and Rs 100 for a set of three and Rs 45 each for XL ones. Blousepieces of a variety of colours were on sale at Bommana Brothers but no shops seemed to offer readymade blouses on discount.

That was just as much as we could do to encourage you and be with you on your shopping spree. Pick up all the stuff that you can this Ugadi, and brace yourself up to savour the "Shad Rasa" of the year that lies ahead. We wish you best of luck!

The Sartorial Remains of the Day

Vizag's culture is fast evolving from that of a small and sleepy fishing village to one of a fast-growing industrial hub that yearns to acquire a cosmopolitan veneer.

Langa - BlouseLike all such changes, this one comes with its pros and cons. Rather than making a vain attempt to discuss all these factors superficially, we take note today of one particular aspect of this metamorphosis-the new items in the collective wardrobe of Vizag's women.

Virtually vanished is the process whereby a young girl was first outfitted in a langa-blouse, then graduated to a langa-vani, and then finally moved up to the matron's sari. Today, the female sex is attired in a medley of clothes, ranging from the North Indian salwar kameez to trendy (at least by Vizag standards) western wear like jeans and t-shirts. While the sari remains popular with most older women, the langa-jacket and half-sari have been seen off by a variety of North Indian dresses and western togs.

As mentioned above, traditional Andhra culture had a few specific clothes for girls depending on their ages. Young girls wore a langa-jacket. This is essentially a simple, but often colourful, skirt and blouse ensemble. The fabric for this garment is sold in matching sets for the top and bottom components. Once girls reached puberty, they had to start wearing langa-vanis. It was customary for girls from the ages of 13-19 to wear this. This item of clothing comes in three pieces-the two parts of the langa-jacket over which was worn a sari, only in such a way that it did not entirely cover the langa. Some just call this dress a "half-sari". Strictly speaking, this dress consists of four pieces, as modesty and propriety require an underskirt beneath the outer drawstring skirt. The sartorial summit, so to speak, was gained once a woman got married and started wearing a (full) sari. This custom also explains the slightly older woman one occasionally saw wearing a half-sari-she was not trying to act young: the poor creature had simply not yet managed to get hitched.

Half - SariUntil a few years ago, the half-sari besides being the traditional dress, was also the most popular dress of young girls in the city. There was no dress that belonged so exclusively to the budding young woman and few women past their teens would wear it. "It is very elegant and something that mothers and grandmothers wanted you to wear, especially at weddings," says Radha, an undergraduate student in the city. The half-sari thus represented the transition from the langa-jacket to the sari, from girlhood to womanhood. It prepared a young girl for the more cumbersome nine yards, or the more modern six meters, of a regular sari.

The young women of Vizag attempt to exude confidence and poise as they walk down the road, commute to work, or even jostle against each other in crowded college corridors. On college campuses, jeans and the salwar kameez can be seen everywhere. An entire generation of women have taken to western and north Indian attire, exactly like their counterparts from other cities. The langa-vani hardly appears to be remembered let alone missed.

The salwar appears to have cut across age and class barriers to become the most widely worn dress in urban India. Among the very young, it is challenged in popularity only by jeans and t-shirts. In fact nowadays even ghagras, shararas and lehenga-cholis have become more popular than saris as wedding or party wear. True, dresses such as the salwar-kameez are convenient, modest, economical and above all, very (North) Indian. But why is it that the half-sari seems to be disappearing altogether? Why has a dress that has held its own for (we assume) hundreds of years literally disappeared over less than a decade? It is not as if the half-sari was particularly inconvenient. It also had the advantage of letting a young girl, her half-sari draped over the blouse and with one end tucked into the lehenga, have the freedom to gambol around while at the same time teaching her to be more conscious of herself and her dress. No longer-now we have nine-year-olds dressing not very differently from their grandmothers. Well, at least we are not yet as bad the Americans, dressed as the majority of them are like grossly overgrown infants (baggy shorts and crumpled t-shirts are a national uniform there).
We also mourn the passing of the half-sari in Vizag because it represents the burgeoning blandness brought about by the homogenization of tastes and fashions throughout the country and, for that matter, the world. No longer does each region of the country appear as a particularly distinctive entity (at least, speaking of the larger towns and cities). Every other teenager sports a pseudo-American accent (guaranteed to bewilder a real American-though it must be conceded that they are a people easily bewildered by anything even slightly unfamiliar) and every other cable channel shows large groups of people jerking spastically to the accompaniment of loud music. As "old fogies", we find this growing lack of individuality most distressing!

Even though the sari itself remains popular, it is now frequently being reserved for special occasions--go to a wedding, and rarely will you see women wearing any thing other than a sari.

Responding to a few questions from our staff, many of this fair city's young girls said they did not possess even one half-sari outfit. Even those who owned one confessed they rarely wore it. When asked what they thought of the half-sari, many girls were surprisingly vociferous in denouncing it. Nandini, 18, stated, "To be honest, I feel half-saris belong to a previous century. Never in my life will I wear one."

A few girls said they liked the dress but found it inconvenient. "I am a professional so I have to make sure that I am dressed in a professional way, and I don't think langa-vanis are more a uniform kind of thing. I would have worn it but nowadays the trend has mostly changed to modern clothes like shirts, pants, jeans, that sort of thing," said one woman with a reputed telecom company in the city. "It is hot and humid all-most all year around in Vizag. Wearing silk saris or long langa-vanis is not really comfortable and even in tradition bound societies like ours, women want comfort more than convention these days," says Mrs Lakshmi, a housewife. Obviously, the half-sari will soon survive only in faded photographs of the older generation and the flickering frames of older movies.

However, it is somewhat comforting that most Indian dresses have held their own against the onslaught of western apparel. The venerable sari keeps being "discovered" every few years by European couturiers and still retains pride of place as formal Indian wear. Says Shanti, an undergraduate in a city college: "The sari makes even the most ordinary woman look exotic, traditional, cultured and beautiful." And all agree that the sari can be worn to emphasize one's curves or to hide one's flab.