As I entered the gate of my office building, I saw a group of young men and women standing in the office lobby and posing for a picture. They were huddled close together, a clean smile across everyone’s face. And with an exception of a few, almost everyone was clothed in a traditional Indian Dress. Women in Sarees and men in Kurtas. Which wasn’t surprising considering it was the Independence Day eve. And like almost every office in India, the HR had announced a dress code for today – traditional Indian wear with the color theme of our National Flag.
I wasn’t in the dress code. I had planned on wearing a mint colored shirt over blue denim jeans today. I didn’t have any Kurta in my wardrobe. And the color range of my shirts was limited to white and different shades of blue. This mint colored shirt was the best option I had. But even that option got closed when I found the shirt buried under the piles of clothes. Wrinkled way too badly to be saved by the meager ironing skills I possessed. Dejected I dropped it in the same pile and decided to pick up the second best option I had. That meant anything that wasn’t stinking and could go along with the blue jeans I was wearing.
Now as I passed by the merry selfie-clicking group, I became even more conscious of the clothes I was wearing. But nothing could be done now. So I started walking a little faster, trying my best to get into the elevator lobby as quickly as possible. Even then I ended up looking at that side, for a couple of times.
I recognized a few faces in that group. One of the girls in that group was from the same floor as mine. She was looking gorgeous in an off white silk saree with orange and green-colored embroidery at its border. I remember seeing her a couple of times on the floor. She was new to the office. I made a mental note to compliment her whenever I happened to see her today.
On the floor, the world seemed normal. Everyone in my team had turned up in the usual clothes. In fact, the entire floor was like that. Hardly I saw anyone sporting anything that even remotely resembled the color of the national flag. A couple of times I saw a few, but I guessed they were from different teams.
For a strange reason, I felt relieved by that. Maybe because I was not the odd one out. That’s how we are, too eager to be part of the group. Too happy to not stand out.
But still, I felt a little sad about missing out on this little thing we do for independence day. What else we do otherwise? We exchange sweets and gifts on Diwali. Play with water and colors on Holi. This day on which we got Independence, which should be the most celebrated day of the year, and which demands practically nothing from us, except to remember the importance of this day through symbolic activities like wearing a traditional dress – most of us don’t even that.
The day went on as usual otherwise. The emails kept on coming. The meetings kept on dragging. And soon …