The Kaftan Writer

Posted on November 4, 2011


I haven’t inherited many traits from my maternal grandmother (other than her classic good looks, and razor sharp wit of course), but she has gifted me many a plaything, clothes, and gift vouchers over the years. But of all her endowments, I am most grateful to her for the one thing she’s handed over to me most recently.

Her blue, batik kaftan.

Anyone already familiar with the home-grown Sri Lankan garment, will know that tie-dye batik is our definitive design. The kaleidoscopic print has been stained onto shirts, sarongs, umbrellas even, and pushed into the arms of gullible, pink-faced tourists and the fashionably inept.

Funnily enough, you won’t find many Colombo residents willing to profess their undyeing (sorry, that was terrible) affection for our staple print – unless of course it’s been branded as designer beachwear by one of the local opportunists.For the poor man’s kaftan is not in the least about vogue.

So in establishing the batik kaftan at the bottom of the fashion charts, and taking into consideration the equation which states that style is inversely proportionate to comfort, one can only conclude that this humble cotton robe must be the Mary Jane of the clothing industry.

A kaftan’s worth however, can only truly be measured by its wearability.

A brand new piece straight off the rack is of no comfort value until washed several times, beaten out of its starchiness and worn about a few rounds, before it can be finally deemed worthy of its being.

Mind you though, that this respectable line of attire doesn’t condone shabbiness, or likening itself to an unrecognisable piece of rag.

So when Ummi so very generously parted with one of her used pieces, I received a kaftan that was, as a certain fabled golden-haired porridge thief would ascertain, just right.

And then what a salve it is, to a body just been released from the prison of merciless denims and synthetic garb! A slip on so comfortable, it’s near euphoric. Possessing the powers that has its wearer nearer to a state of nirvana than any psychedelic drug will ever deliver. It’s the manna of the textile world, the uniform of those truly at ease.

Clearly I’ve grown far too attached to this magical weave of fabric, but at the end of a longs day’s work (+ commute), just the thought of it waiting dried, and ready is enough to ease any knots in my muscles, release the heavy-thoughts from my mind space, and on a cloud of fluffy comfort, transport me to a zone, the zone, where I’m at my most relaxed, and subsequently most productive.

And with that ever-so-slightly exaggerated dedication to this beauteous garment, and after a spot of online banter with an acquaintance, I would like to ring in the official re-branding of this little web space of mine. Exuent Chronicles of A TestTube, enter The Kaftan Writer.

The Chronicles Of A TestTube, after more than 3 years of meritorious servitude, will have to retire, I’m afraid. Along with that phase of my life that actually did revolve around lab coats, the Sciences and test tubes (the very inspiration behind the moniker in the first place), these 4 dear words too, will have to be lovingly folded and stored away with the rest of fond memories.

The Kaftan Writer, with the slight Agatha Christie’esque ring to it, I’d like to hope, will inshaAllah herald in with all humility, this new phase where I take my writing more seriously. Yet more comfortably.

Like the classic Kaftan, this blog aims to be bolder, yet accommodating. Spacious, yet structured. Beaten down, yet fresh with renewed servitude.

But more than anything else, it promises an attempt (I can guarantee no sureties) at bringing literary pleasure to both, the writer and reader.

Wishing only good kaftans your way,

The Kaftan Writer