woman in white, or not

(written at Amritapuri)


I have a friend, I’ll call her Penny, and she loves white clothes. She is also very messy. Messy Penny. She knows this. She knows that she is messy and that she will always spill food on her white clothes, yet she still wears them.


I do not wear white.


Okay, I rarely, rarely wear white. The most recent occasion was early 2015 when I  bought a white t-shirt because I had a tan and because Taylor Jacobson wore one with some baggy jeans in an episode of The Rachel Zoe Project and I thought she looked quite cool. Three weeks later I gave it to Oxfam because it annoyed me too much. I avoid white as much as I can. I blame my mother (my actual mother not Amma who some people who wear white do refer to as their mother, I’m not at that stage). She was never a fan of white. When I was a teenager, well about eighteen, I went out and bought a pair of white trousers and wore them constantly (it was very cool) I also had a white polo shirt, fitted, also to highlight my tan but that was later.


Anyhow so the white trousers would be one of my regular going out outfits. Now going out was going to my friends house, drinking either wine, vodka if we could afford it or Bacardi Breezers (we each brought a bottle of wine with us, there were normally three of us) which we would drink. Then we went to Wetherspoons and bought a £4.99 bottle of wine. Each and drank that. Then we got the free bus and got free entry and a free shot. We were hammered and in our attempt to get boys to buy us drinks the white trousers would get unavoidably trashed from alcohol spillage, vomit stains, cigarette burns and grass stains and I would spend hours scrubbing them out. Hours. Until I eventually went and bought another pair of the same ones. And another pair. They were about £15 from Pilot. I think I bought about three pairs in 8 weeks. But hey, that was fashion. I was also on crutches for a while so I couldn’t wear skirts, (I could have done, easily, but I felt I should be more sensible) And then I bought a final fourth pair. For uni. Because, you know they were my going out trousers. But then I went out. And got grass stains on them. But it was fine, I had no time to bleach them (it was the night before I went to uni, I was too busy the next morning vomiting and packing) so my mum kindly offered to. And she did.


With lemon bleach so they would smell nice.


They were yellow.


Scum yellow.


Luckily by that point white trousers were not a uni thing and I was either not bothering to get ready because I was ‘too cool’ or relishing being at Goldsmiths and wearing all kinds of nuts shit. And apart from about five other items of clothing, I have never worn white again. I hate it. It’s just not me. But here at Amritapuri, everyone wears white (almost everyone) as a sign of purity. Devotion. To increase your awareness of your surroundings (so your fingers don’t go raw from scrubbing off the red sand that covers the ground that inevitably stains anything that touches it) But I don’t.


I leave white to everyone else and instead rely on my twin sets of Indian tops and trousers that make me look like I’m wearing pyjamas,very 2013/14. Instead I’ve taken to going barefoot, partly because I can and partly because it also heightens your awareness, one wrong step and i’ll be in an Indian hospital. It works. I leave the white to those who are purer, more patient, better at scrubbing and those like Messy Penny who is just a fatalist.  As for my wedding dress? Well one, why am I even thinking about that and two, I’m starting to think it would be hypocritical (no not because of my impure mind and body, because I hate white, although at least I wouldn’t have to worry about its longevity or a repeated viewing, right?

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