Rent-A-Saree: It happens only in India

Gramshree introduces first-of-its-kind saree library that loans

expensive silk and heavily embroidered

Poor women can borrow these sarees not just for weddings but also birthday parties and other special occasions. Gramshree plans to collect 1,00 sarees to set up five libraries across Ahmedabad

Poor women can borrow these sarees not just for weddings but also birthday parties and other special occasions. Gramshree plans to collect 1,00 sarees to set up five libraries across Ahmedabad

Until recently, Pinku Makwana thought her childhood dream of wearing nine yards of Patola silk fabric to a social function would never materialise.

For the domestic help from Ranip in Ahmedabad, keeping a single piece of Patola sari in her wardrobe would have triggered quite a malfunction in her budget.

These saris, which display one of the world’s most complex weaving techniques, come with price tags of between Rs. 5,000 (for a plain Jane) and a deep hole in your pocket (for the intricate variety of golden brocades).

But she did make her sister-in-law burn with envy when she went to a family get-together dressed in a gorgeous Patola – courtesy of a non-government organisation that has started a rent-a-sari service.

Pinku’s dream got fulfilled for a mere Rs. 5 and the expensive sari will be hers for a week.

Of course, she has to foot the dry cleaner‘s bill before returning. But a real small price to pay. Vandana Agarwal from Gramshree in Ahmedabad started this venture after she heard many women workers in the NGO often complaining about their fate – that is wearing the same sari to all social functions.

“Most of the women working with us belong to the low-income group. They can’t afford to buy or keep more than one good sari for social occasions. They would often brood about this fact,” Vandana said.

This led Vandana to open a “sari library”. “The idea is simple. All one needs is a guarantor and Rs.5 to pick up a sari of her choice for a week,” she said.

Vandana has two “libraries” running simultaneously with roaring success in Ahmedabad – one in the Ranip area and the other in Chandlodia. Both localities were primarily inhabited by people of low-income groups.

Proposal for a third one has been on the anvil.

“We have a range of expensive saris such as the Gujarati Patolas, the South Indian Kanjivarams and other silk. Our clientele can’t afford to buy them. At present, we have more than 200 such saris, mostly collected through donations. More are pouring in,” she said.

For the donors, the idea was appealing. “I have collected so many expensive saris over the years and many of them were idling away in my cupboard,” homemaker Hetal Patel said.

“When I realised that my sari could bring so much joy to someone, I just couldn’t resist myself,” she added.

“Thanks to Vandana didi, I can wear good saris just like women from high society,” Pinku said. (courtesy: D. P. BHATTACHARYA & mailonlineindia)

Ahmedabad: Mr. Modi, YES SIR (DNA), NO SIR (Times Of India) !!

If you were an Amdavadi, depending on whether you read The Times of India or the DNAthis morning, you would have a very different view of life from someone who read the other.

The difference is stark and telling.

The Times of India carries on with the CAG report on the sins of omission and commission by the Narendra Modi government dominating the front (and city) pages. The lead story, headlined ‘You are living in toxic Ahmedabad’, quotes the CAG as saying, “Despite tall claims, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has not succeeded in bringing down pollution levels to prescribed levels,” and points out that, despite the government spending nearly Rs 100 crore on cleaning up the Sabarmati, it has “failed to improve the condition of the river.” A table highlights three major heads of expense in the fight against corruption and their shortcomings.


DNAdoes not even make a passing reference to the CAG report in the entire paper. Their lead story on the front page is an “exclusive” on another instance of corruption in the defence forces.


Patently, to readers of Times of India, Modi is no more Mr. Nice Guy, while for DNA readers, he continues to be.

It’s not just in politics that the two newspapers (and readers) do not share common views. In sport, Times of India generously previews IPL 5 with more than one-and-a-half pages devoted to the cricketainment extravaganza. Football, even the 3-3 draw played out by Manchester City versus Sunderland at home, a match which just might have given rival Manchester United the title, is ignored by The Times of India, while DNA does a wrap of Saturday’s games. DNA devotes about 60 column centimetres to the IPL, that too in a piece that says Sachin Tendulkar was at the nets for Mumbai Indians. DNA’s focus, as far as sports is concened, is Tiger Woods’ fitness, which dominates the back page.

Commercially, too, these papers are like chalk and cheese. Here’s how the two fare (as far as their main sections are concerned):

Times ofIndia DNA
Total number of pages 24 14
Full page ads 7 2
Half page and smaller display 2 0
Cinema ads 1 0
Classifieds 2 0
Tenders/notices 3 1/2
Total number of ads pages 15 2 ½

The Times of India, then, has more paid ad pages in the main section than the total number of pages in the main section of DNA.

And, for the first time I’ve seen this in a newspaper, pages 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the Times of Indiaare paid ads — making page 5 the ‘front’ page.

In Ahmedabad, it’ll be difficult for readers of Times of India and DNA to have an easy conversation immediately after they read the papers in the morning. Each will think the other has come from some other planet…

Visa Hanuman in Amdavad !!!

A board outside Ahmedabad’s Chamatkarik Hanuman Temple
says that special poojas will be performed for getting visa to go abroad

If you are one of those longing

to get a visa to fly abroad,
then instead of standing in a
long queue outside the visa
office, try standing in a queue
outside the ‘Sidhdheshwer
Chamatkarik Hanuman Temple’. Locals believe that the
God in the temple helps all
those who aspire for a visa.
The temple is located in the
city of Ahmedabad in the state
of Gujarat. All you have to do
is bring your visa documents
to the temple and wait for your
turn to keep your plea in front
of ‘Visa Hanuman’.
The temple is 400 years
old, where hundreds of devotees throng at the temple to
pray for a visa. Every Saturday
about 4,000 devotees arrive
at the temple, out of which 50
percent are those, who come to
pray for a visa. The devotees
have to come with their papers
and passports, which are laid at
the feet of the god by the priest.
The priest then asks the devotee to recite a prayer of Lord
Hanuman. The locals believe
that if the prayer is done with
true heart, then the devotee
will get his visa within a month.
Apart from the city, people from
all over the state come to pray
for their visas. Now, that’s one
belief that is deep.
“It is believed that if the
ritual is performed in earnest,
the devotee gets the visa within
a month,” says Bhushan Bhatt,
a local corporator. “Apart from
Ahmedabad, devotees from
Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, and
smaller towns and villages
across the state come in large
numbers to this temple. It’s
a matter of belief. Devotees
have firm faith that after visiting
the temple, their visa will be
granted,” adds Bhatt