Telling the tale of
WRAPPING a towel around your waist is as difficult as wrapping a sari but whereas the sari has never let down its wearer, the towel has often slipped between the navel and the knee.
Like the shoe which the wearer alone knows where it pinches, the travails of the towel are known only to its wearers. Experience, however, varies from wearer to wearer.
While in the affluent society a towel is a pastime, among the weaker sections it is a necessary evil. With the passage of time it is becoming more and more necessary and less and less evil. My early childhood days were towel-less. When I got into the towel it was only one ninth of it because it was shared by eight more memebrs of my joint family.
In other words it was a
family towel like a family album. To the best of my memory I never got
it dry. Each member of my family would rinse it after use, mis-use.
There was a string hung outside our so-called bath-room which was
un-electrified, its bulb always fused and its soap always, or almost
always, missing alongwith its light.
The rickshaw-pullers of Agra and Kanpur carry a wet towel on their head while on the road. If a towel is not available, they put an onion in a handkerchief and wrap it around their head to beat the heat during the summer days, because the onion is a great heat absorber. The halwais all over keep a towel on their left shoulder, the way in which modern women carry a dupatta. It is very difficult to decide who is who imitating whom?
I had an opportunity once to stay in a five-star hotel on Government hospitality. There in the bathroom I found eight towels. I was puzzled. I asked a bearer about it. He looked at me with culpable contempt. He sensed I was the first-timer. He did not reply.
Some VVIP rooms called suites have two bathrooms. That means sixteen towels for a couple. Some towels are as short as handkerchiefs, others as long as bed-sheets or blankets. I took the manager into confidence and asked him: ‘Brother, tell me the rationale for eight towels’? He ordered tea and explained:
"One towel for the morning shave, one for the evening shave, three towels for bathing: pre-bath, bath and post-bath, three for drying the various parts of the body".
"That totals up to seven": I asked.
‘The eighth towel is for