Clothes in the swimming pool and on the lawn
"It wasn't just Muslim women who wanted this," she said. "An increasing number of women felt more comfortable being covered up and even larger men who felt uncomfortable in a bathing suit and preferred to be in a T-shirt."NatGeo's coverage of 'Muslim Athletic Wear' took me back to a vacation I took not long ago in a sea-side resort town in Maharashtra. The town had two beaches, one main one which was very crowded, full of families decked in Sunday best taking dips in the sea and the other secluded one, where there was one resort. This is where we stayed.
Azizah's Taylor agrees. "It's not only Muslim women who are making attempts to be modest when they go out," she said.
"There's also a contingency of Christian women and Jewish women and others who just don't feel that they need to show their bodies. Other women are striving to be modest as well."
Our resort had the most idyllic location, with a mile-long beach exclusively for the 30-odd rooms. Coconut palms fringed the beach, separating the hotel from the beach. The rooms were nice and comfy and all that. However, what attracted us the most to this place was the swimming pool, which promised many moments spent lazing around through the day.
So, the moment we reached, we unpacked and got into swimming wear. We were ready for a dip in the pool and/ or the sea, inspite of it being a really hot noon. However, what we saw at the pool took our appetite away.
Two large families (in number and mass) were splashing about in the shallow end, wearing normal clothes. The women were in saris and salwar-kameez, while the men didn't even bother taking off their shirts. Besides being revolting to the eye, this was singularly unhygienic. We went away to the sea.
Indian families do like to keep it modest. It's fairly well known that Indian women and women in India dress modestly, irrespective of occasion, however, what is less well known is that Indian men too are shy! They would not think twice about entering the sea wearing woolen or polyester trousers. I concede that mostly they would take off their shirts. However, it's not uncommon to see them keep their vests on. The prevalent attitude, at least in North India, where I grew up is that topless equates nanga (naked) even in men. This also seemed an attitude prevalent amongst the Maharashtrians and Gujaratis who frequented this resort.
For the next two days, we used to sneak into the pool early morning when the other inhabitants were yet to wake up and the pool was clean. While there we used to keep a close watch on the hotel, nervous that some other large family would be advancing upon us. The moment we spotted them, we would rush to the sea. I have to admit that swimming in a pool was never as exciting.
Furthermore, clothes in the pool was not the only hardship that we had to face. We were also confronted by clothes strewn across the manicured hedges and lawns.
What is it with people, who would hang clothes outside their hotel rooms when a clothesline is provided inside? That too the choicest of dirty linen. I had read somewhere that neighbourhoods in US were forcing people to hang their washed clothes inside or at the back of their houses as the clotheslines were driving real estate prices down. I could empathise.
Just compare the before and after pictures below.
Needless to say, the value we could have got out of the pool reduced significantly. However, nobody else seemed to mind. Also, I don't think that the resort is getting out of business soon, considering the number of families which were splashing about in the pool, fully clothed, when we left.