My Camera & My Chai: The God Uniform


Over the course of my many years, I was always poked, and sometimes made fun of, when I would wear my corporate suit and tie. This was the corporate uniform.

Of course, the uniform changed over the years. When I started on the shop floor, in a steel mill, I would wear a standard factory uniform, dark blue goggles to protect my eyes from the intense light of the electric arc, and a helmet. My shoes had an additional sole, made from truck tyres.

When I moved to consumer sales, I would wear a grubby shirt, and a grubbier set of trousers.

You see, I graduated to the suit and the tie. I rebelled against the tie and the suit, as it is generally most unsuited to the Indian climate, and I believe that a tie cuts off blood supply to the brain.

Now, in photography, I wear jeans in winter, and cotton trousers in summer. And, I try and wear a hat, and a bandanna.

We love uniforms.

Even GodMen have uniforms


In the old days, and even now, an Indian GodMan would be a chap with matted hair, a beard, almost naked, and with ribs poking out from all over the place.

Then, the Beatles discovered India, and life changed. Suddenly, one of them popped up at Woodstock. Rajnish acquired 97 Rolls-Royce cars and moved to Oregon, where he had an estate bounded by electrified fences. His bald pate was bounded by a well groomed beard in the southern part of the facial country, and a diamond studded woollen cap in the northern part of the facial country.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar wears long hair, which is thinning, a beard that is coloured black and a saintly smile. He peddles an avuncular air, products at the international airport, and organises world culture festivals that pollute the banks of the Yamuna River.

Then, there are the middle level, like the lady and the gents you see in the pictures above. Each tries to stand out from the motley crowd in their own humble way.

The one on the left is more traditional in his garb, though I would not want to be alone with him in a deserted alley at night.

The one in the centre looks like a retired uncle, showering benedictions from on high.

The lady wears a rainbow turban, and looks like she would be at home jiving to the music of that death metal band – Arch Enemy. Keep in mind that the lead singer of Arch Enemy follows a vegan lifestyle.

Uniforms are important. However, as you can see, individuality is important as well. Else, they will not be able to position themselves well in the growing crowd of GodMen and GodWomen. They will not be able to attract followers and build a good business.

Philip Kotler and the other assorted marketing “gurus” we have sprinkled around the globe need to pay heed. There is no point chasing corporates who, in any case, have very little money.

The new target is the GodMan!

NB:- I have used the term ‘guru’ as the Western world understands it. I have not used it in the context of the original meaning




  1. there is an entire blog to be written about the hep new female Mais and their attire would warrant a lot of work for the camera! Poetry too would be rich and luscious

    1. Thanks.. Glad you liked it.

      I agree with you on the low hung jeans.. We don’t see too much of that in India, but in my wanderings in Europe, I’d look at them and think -Now, they drop!

  2. I like reading about the nuances of India. We have those nuances here as well only I think it’s more subtle. “I believe that a tie cuts off blood supply to the brain.” Ahhh….now I see what happened to my husband after all those years of wearing a suit! 😉

  3. Fantastic post! I was almost laughing out loud by the time it ended. I suppose one of the objectives of wearing (or imposing) a uniform is to ‘brand’ the wearer so that they know which group/tribe they belong to, and so does everyone else. Godmen and gangsters, celebrities and activists – they may each consciously try to dress differently from their tribe mates but you could still probably tell one from the other, from the broad dress code they follow.

    1. I think so, yes ! When I was a teenager, I wore John Lennon glasses, and had shoulder length hair.. Looking back, all I did, was to wear the teenage uniform of the time!

  4. Very Good, my Dear Rajiv! Very well written, and True. …I wonder what You would say about ‘my’ uniform. I used to wear Kurtas and Jeans before taking Sannyas. I took to lungis so that people might approach me for whatever little I can give them, which they would not if I do not follow the ‘uniform!!!’ 🙂

  5. We were at the Red Fort and there was some construction going on. Women in the most gorgeous coloured saris would walk up the ramp with building materials on their heads. Their movement was so smooth and serene that it was hypnotic or dream like. This was their uniform and it was intoxicating.

    1. Oh, I know that walk well. In fact, carrying bricks on their heads is the most friendly way to do it (for their backs), and contributes to that walk
      Look at coolies walk at the Railways Stations in India

      1. I’ll do that, Rajiv. Thank you. But… that vision of those stately, graceful women in their stunningly, beautiful saris, is embedded in my mind forever.

      1. A coolie? A coolie is a railway porter in India. You need to see them carry people’s luggage, and you need to see people haggle with them

      2. I do know what a coolie is but spell check doesn’t seem to know. But do get the idea that they carry the luggage on the head.

  6. Hahaha.. Good one sir , Wonderful thought ,the God men who claims to show us the path of dejection, themselves dressing filmsy and gloomy …

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