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Friday, May 24, 2013

Wayanad Auto drivers fight for right to wear 'mundu' ~ something on 'patta patti'.......

The attire gives more respect to you…….. down South, the veshti is considered a respectable attire….. many people, including politicians wear it.  It is the dress of villagers ~ the type of cloth, its freshness, the way it is worn all adds respect to the person wearing it.  The cost may not matter as much as the impression – still costlier dresses are regarded as good by most. Of course, it makes sense to wear clothes that suit the local weather and climate as also the local traditions. The simple rule could be ‘dress sensibly as much as possible’.

My post on the pleasant auto  experience in Thiruvananthapuram drew many response. In Chennai, another additional problem that is being faced is that sometimes you could have another person [friend / mechanic …. Whoever] sitting alongside the auto-driver in his seat…….. he may have some business to be there, but that does makes the passenger jittery, especially when it is late evening or nighttime.  Many auto-rickshaw drivers do not wear uniforms, mostly you can find a khaki shirt flung across somewhere in the auto …… a decade ago, Mr Karunasagar introduced ‘autocard’ which was to contain details of the driver, including his residential address, type of ownership, blood group and licence number. The idea was to post a sticker in all autos and the local police and the traffic police headquarters had a copy;  the concept soon died out, like many other initiatives. May be it would be better to have the auto No.; Owner Name; tel no; driver Name and contact no.; written in bold inside the auto – so that the passenger may upon entering convey the same to somebody back to ensure their safety………….’sure not all auto drivers are bad – there are very good human beings, who help out people …. Still those few blacksheeps bring harm to their reputation’. 

May be, it is the image created by Cinemas…… there is a perception that villagers wear ‘half-drawers’ christened as ‘patta-patti’ trousers for the criss-cross pattern on handloom cloth of which the bermuda like underwear is made… nothing wrong with the half-trousers, but lot with the way they are worn… Vadivelu, Vivek, Napoleon, Ramarajan, Rajkiran have all made it famous by wearing the vesthi in a fashion that it reveals the patta-patti inside.  The veshti or lungi is  folded above knee level so that the striped patta patti is visible.  People would take out the cash from the pocket of patta-patti.  In the famous movie "Enga Ooru Pattukaran" [remember the song  "Shenbagamey Shenbagamey"] Ramarajan the hero  milks a cow wearing only a blue drawer…. !!!

Today’s TOI reports that ‘Kerala autowallahs fight for their right to wear ‘mundus’…… The Kozhikode news reports that Police and autorickshaw drivers in Kerala’s Wayanad are caught in a ‘mundu’ row, which now threatens to spill over to the streets. Drivers’ unions maintain that a move to enforce a dress code and prevent them from wearing the traditional mundu (dhotis) to work from June 1 is an infringement on their rights and an affront to Kerala culture.    The unions plan to protest the decision by making all their members, mainly autorickshaw drivers, wear the traditional Kerala dress. They have also threatened to take their vehicles off the roads if police persist with the implementation of the code.

Police said the decision was taken in view of the “undignified dressing” followedby mundu-clad auto drivers. “We have noticed that many autorickshaw drivers wear the mundu folded and tied high up the waist. They also walk around with dhotis and lungis folded up, causing discomfort to women and families,” said Wayanad police chief A V George. “We have decided to strictly enforce the code for drivers of public transport vehicles in the motor vehicle act in the district, which would require all drivers to shift to khaki pants.” He said those who refuse to fall in line will be fined.    Wayanad RTO chief insepector M P Ajith Kumar said though the Motor Vehicle Act stipulates that drivers should wear khaki shirt and pants, the department had not so far insisted on it.

It is stated that around 50% drivers in the district still wear mundu to work and adds that the way in which some drivers wear it is demeaning to the profession.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th May 2013.


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