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Mary Jane shoes with a nine yards saree

My Paati and Thatha, Lokanayaki and RR Hariharan. My mother’s parents from Ravanasamudram, Thirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu. Circa 1920.

Image and Narrative contributed by Vani Subramanian, New Delhi

He worked with the Indian Railways, and she raised her five children between Delhi and Shimla, learning Hindi and the ways of the ‘north’ as she went along. This photograph was probably taken fairly soon after they were married. Even my mum who is now 72 years old doesn’t remember them like this at all. So in a sense, they are both familiar and strangers as they appear in the picture. But I do remember the photograph framed and hanging on the wall in the house that they retired to in the village. A house they moved in to the day I was born: 22 Jan 1965.

My favourite part of the photograph is that Paati is wearing Mary Jane shoes and white socks with her nine yards saree. I never saw her in shoes in real life. As a matter of fact, I never saw my grandfather in a coat and tie, either. Though I am told that he wore a coat, tie, shoes and pants clipped with bicycle clips as he rode to work from Park Lane to the railway boards offices.


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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. It’s so fascinating to read about our ancestors and their lifestyles! Love these pictures and portraits. It makes us feel so proud to belong to such legendary families!

  2. As this was clicked at a studio, in all probability these “accessories” were supplied by the studio. It was the done thing in those days to stock all these items for customers who wanted to be photographed.

  3. Madisar and Mary Janes — a winning combination.

    I love it! It is not only thathas who get to wear an “alpaca” and a panchagajam .

  4. It was nice to see this photo :I am shankar,son of papa mama,and your patti is my aunt,my fathers only sister:I still remember the Delhi days when your grandparents were living in parkstreet and we in parklane; we must get in toch with each other;

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