Thursday, January 27, 2011

Delhi boots

My friend Adrian, commenting on a previous post, spoke of finding Delhi staid and dowdy in comparison with Bombay. Well, Delhi fashions have changed considerably since Adrian visited half a dozen winters ago. Which makes sense: all the clothes sold in all those new malls have to end up somewhere, right? The most important sign of the shift in fashion sense is, in my opinion, an exponential increase in the number of women wearing boots.
No item of clothing combines allure and assertiveness, power and play, the way stiletto-heeled leather boots do. A decade ago one could stay in Delhi for days and spot hardly a couple of boot-shod females. Young, office-going women wore shoes; seniors wore sneakers or chappals with woolen socks. Now women in boots are all over the place, striding down streets, in offices and restaurants.
If I'm right in relating boots to power, the change in female footwear represents something larger. It is a sign that women are slowly claiming Delhi for themselves in a way previously unthinkable within a city notorious for its female unfriendliness.

8 comments:

SUR NOTES said...

Girish, i doubt those boots are meant for walking, in the way that walking in a public space means claiming and asserting ones presence.

I have been following your delhi-bombay observations with interest. i agree with some, but this post seemed like a leap of imagination.

Call me cynical. Or rueful about the fact that the bombay humidity kills all desire for those bloody attractive boots!

Anonymous said...

oops- that was me surabhi

Girish Shahane said...

hehe, they'd certainly look as absurd as they'd feel in the Bombay heat. As for their symbolic value, well, they scream woman power to me, but that could well be the over-reading you think it is. But I think you'll agree there's nothing demure about them.

DS said...

Those boots in Delhi are NOT meant for walking! As a fellow Bombayite, their exponential increase was the first thing that one noticed in a "changing Delhi" scene. It was hard to spot a Delhi woman without them.

Demure they aren't matched with leggings and dresses, I am not sure re the assertiveness as in confidence more as in herd fashionistas. BUT there were lots who wore boots with attitude, mainly artists and they are assertive women alright!

SUR NOTES I guess you are a rueful Bombayite.....those boots are bloody attractive! One Bombay friend wore hers the first night no doubt to keep up with the delhiwaalis then rested her sore feet in trainers for the next 4 days.

Anonymous said...

If you had been in Delhi over during the summer you'd have spotted several girls in shorts all over Delhi. You know the shorts, sandals and large bag combination? I asked a friend of mine and she said that they kind hovered over spaces and returned to their cars. You do still need to match your wardrobe with your mode of transport is what I believe.

Girish Shahane said...

I agree. But the new public buses in Delhi are far less crowded than the dreadful ones we saw earlier; and the metro's also civilised thus far. So one can imagine women in boots (and maybe even in shorts) using these modes of transport; it would have been utterly impossible to imagine it a decade ago. I fact, I saw a few boots emerge from subways, though I admit most of them probably travelled in cars.

sumanya said...

Hmmm rather optimistic, I think. Having been in Delhi last year on work, the 'unfriendly to women' aspect of the city surfaced all over again (as it does every visit)...perhaps the boots variety of women do not travel late night without male escorts. For the single woman of smaller means, life is still difficult. And for a Bombay bred woman, it is unbearable!

Girish Shahane said...

Sumanya, I'm glad to hear that!