That silly little dress

65 years ago, on September 15th, 1964, 5000 people (mostly men) were transfixed as Marilyn Monroe stood on a New York subway grate and bent just a little oh so much to go down in Hollywood history! Her attempt to hold down a flying dress is one of the most iconic images in Hollywood. Fourteen takes in all to create that movie magic. The Seven Year Itch made history with its iconic scene with Monroe holding down her dress from being blown away. I can watch that scene and look at that photograph a million times over because it’s HER! She was a stunner! More than a stunner. Read Arthur Miller’s love letters to Monroe and you’ll know what I mean.

Actress Marilyn Monroe and actor Tom Ewell on the set of The Seven Year Itch. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

But what happens when one is not posing for a movie shot nor is one Marilyn Monroe, but the dress goes flying still? What happens when that dreaded phrase called wardrobe malfunction stares right up your legs? Well, then that’s precisely what happened on a windy, Sunday morning in classic Monroe style except it happened to me.

Nope, there were no giant Almonards positioned under a New York subway grate to knock the wind from under my dress, no. This was on a pothole- and traffic-ridden, mushy, mucky street in Bangalore. There are hoards of jokes and memes about Bangalore roads. For instance, look at what social samosa says, “In India, we drive on the left of the road. In Bangalore, we drive on what is left of the road! Or any one of these memes:

Translation: See child, on Bangalore roads, once it rains, you don’t know where the road ends and the gutter begins!

Sorry! That’s how deeply disturbing Bangalore traffic is. Traumatic to such a degree that it raises its head at the most inopportune of times. If you are a Bangalorean, forget your parents scarring you for life! Bangalore roads will take care of all that!

Now let me proceed to explain in detail what happened. See, the memes and jokes about Bangalore are not entirely misplaced. It sets the scene. Any given moment in time, there is always a guy on the left wanting to turn right, the guy on the right wanting to turn left, and then the guy in the middle wanting to make a u-turn. Imagine the chaos that ensues. Needles to say, it’s one HUGE San Andreas fault line! Into this mixture throw in a road that’s decorated with potholes filled to the brim with rainwater, drain water and then bellowing winds that raise all the stray plastic packets that Jaggu, the engineer would have handsomely deposited on to the streets thinking no one was watching. Sounds like a scene from one of those fancy Alien invasion movies that Hollywood makes, no? I wonder why they don’t think of using Bangalore for a setting? It lends itself naturally for a film like that.

Now to all this, I am yet to add the fact that my in-laws were visiting. To anyone married, whether Indian or not, in-laws have a special status in the dictionary of life! Hahaha…I become philosophical even!

Jokes apart, they are amazing people, truly! Being traditional in their outlook to life, in their own way, they do all that they can to ensure that their lineage remains intact even when they have a daughter-in-law who is one nut short.

If you’ve ever spent time with Malayali families, you know where I’m going with this. City slick daughter-in-law marries in-laws from God’s own country. Yes, yes…whoever told you that you marry the son gave you a whole lot of baloney. It was one, big fat lie! So anyone still disillusioned that you will be marrying a wonderful mallu boy, leave that illusion behind. Better still, leave him behind! Oh lord! I am on a roll. Someone either give me an Amen or remind me what I was trying to write here.

If you are mallu and raised catholic, attending Sunday service is like military drill practice. The drill sergeants are always your parents. Even when you’ve moved out and grown old to a point where you have one foot in the grave, your parents will wakeup from the dead to remind you that you need to get your lazy ass out of bed and to mass. Sometimes, the visions are straight from the Walking Dead.

On such a Sunday morning, with family in tow, everyone marched to the church in a single file. Dad-in-law in front, mom-in-law in the middle and I trailed somewhere behind. All’s well until the first faux pas happened– my black stilettos got stuck in the lush green lawn, and I suddenly began to feel the earth beneath my feet. So about turn and back into my shoes. Then, as I step on to the road, the wind began to swirl. All that I said earlier about traffic and Jaggu engineer came magically alive!

So I had put this thing on in a hurry and rushed out the door. My house keys were with the drill sergeants. I perhaps took two steps in front while the army marched on, and voila, these magnificent overlay pants went flying in the air, and I did a Marilyn Monroe for all the commuters on that particular street on that fated Sunday morning. I remained transfixed while the wind continued to play havoc with my clothes, and I screamed out to my mom-in-law to rescue me. She looked devastated as she turned around, hearing my frantic cry for help. If you’ve watched that heart-wrenching scene in Deewar, where Nirupa Roy (the mother) looks perpetually pained by what seems like pine cones wedged between her armpits…that was my mother-in-law that morning. Forget looking pained, she looked mortified that my legs were exposed thus! And the only thing she yelled to my quick marching father-in-law was “thuni keeri poi!” (ഥുനി കെഎരി അനിയാ) meaning “her clothes are torn!”

And to fix things as quickly as possible, the keys were hurled from one end of the marching line to the other end. Thankfully, they landed in my hands and not in the drain hole nearby.

To be fair to me, the model displaying the pants just stood straight-legged with the outfit on in the shopping catalog. There were no overtures to sell the outfit to me. There was no demonstration as below:

I needed something black and long, and I went right ahead and ordered it. I hate trying clothes on so I didn’t even attempt to put it on before Sunday service, so I didn’t know there was a gaping hole on either side to reveal my rather muscular legs. And you know how Sunday service works–very austere. If one can be dressed like cloistered nuns, that’s the perfect outfit, but hey, that’s why I’m a laywoman. So go, figure! Had I known that wearing pants like these would lead me to recreate a moment from 1954, I would have bought 20 such pants.

Sorry. I digress again.

To do damage control, I had to return home and slip something more appropriate on, and I did just that. I suppose in someone’s diary, somewhere this will go down as comic relief on an otherwise hellish, Bangalore-traffic day. It was by far one of the most hilarious experiences of our lives! My hooband and little boy just wouldn’t stop laughing. My lovely parents-in-law attributed the whole thing to my thuni being torn. The only folks who perhaps enjoyed the spectacle were the irked commuters stuck on the crazy, traffic-ridden road.

What’s life without some lemons, right? So don’t be fooled by the monsoons in Bangalore. It maybe cloudy but it sure promises to be entertaining.