An Ode To That Ubiquitous Feminine Accessory, The Handbag Or Purse That You Cannot Step Out Without!

Posted: June 7, 2016

Women’s handbags and purses can be treasure troves, and something that we cannot envision stepping out without, no matter who we are!

As little girls in school, one of the most intriguing memories remain of the class teacher’s piquant purse. It was a giant, leathery, brownish, super tempting bag which would hang on her shoulders all through the day. As mystifying as the teacher herself, the bag was like a lucrative treasure from fairy tale stories which made most of her students tempted to peep into.

How we would wait for the moment when looking for a red pen she would have to put her hand dangling with bangles into the mouth of the gigantic handbag and accidentally dig out not one or two but pens of a variety of shapes, shades and styles, one after the other, hitting the one she intended as last catch. We’d giggle and she’d embarrassingly grin back, “Murphy’s law, you see – Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, especially when it’s urgent.”

Once in a while she would lose the class cupboard keys, looking for which she would turn the entire bag upside down, finally revealing us the hoard of fortunes stacked inside. Hurrah! There fell the gems out of her possession for public display! Hair clips, safety pins, wet tissue papers, mini bottle of moisturizer, Vaseline lip balm, lipsticks, Vicks inhaler, few medicines, a Handiplast, comb, small mirror, wallet, nuts, cardamom and cloves and a handful of assorted candies. Phew! “Doesn’t she carry a mini home along with her at all times!” we stared appalled.

Hardly a decade down the line, most of us got used to carrying similar mini homes on the shoulders ourselves, only to add a few more quintessential items to the already legendary list – like a cellphone, debit or credit cards, iPad or an e-book reader. Times have changed but a lady’s relationship with her bag remains as much close and bonded skin to skin. It is the secret door to her world of fantasy. Dare anyone peep inside without the Queen’s permission, the offense, no matter committed by how dear a person, might be unpardonable!

Leaves me to wonder how men manage to handle hundreds of jobs with that one chain-less wallet which is so small that it fits right into their trouser’s pocket! For us, chains and number of pockets inside the bag are directly proportional to our probability of being able fulfill immediate requirements of self, friends, colleagues or of any stranger who could be travelling along with. Well, you never know! Anyone, anywhere, without dropping a prior hint might need a pill or water or a comb and we’d have to bring our dear Bagwati to rescue! It’s our way of preparing for any contingency that may arise.

Unlike men, pockets and chains are of huge importance to us. More they are in number, better it is. A big pocket for general stuff, a separate small one for cosmetics and toiletries, a smaller still for stray jewelry and credit cards, a secret pocket for stashing sanitary napkins, wallet for keeping cash-in-hand and a loose side pocket for mini water bottles. Just in case you are a woman who loves to read, an additional pocket for books could be highly appreciable. Oh, did I forget to mention the tiniest pocket which keeps safe the earphones from tangling!

How amusing to realize that men usually manage to carry the same pocket wallet to shopping, office, party, picnic or disco or just anywhere? You’d give the lady a mini heart attack if you asked her to even try taking that challenge! Don’t you think it impossible for her to carry a gold clutch to office and a leather office-bag to a girls-day-out? Quite possible that to save an impending embarrassment, she’d rather prefer moving out without a bag than carry a silly one.

On a regular day, women love to play with variety, motifs, prints, style and colour. While they pick, choose, mix and match purse, clutch, baguette, hobo, barrel, minaudiere, wristlest or an Indian batua with the occasion, a minimalist fashionista like me, who has little interest in coping with multiple bags keeps one or two safe colours and sizes that fit most outings. To avoid haggling mind over choices, try sticking to crème, beige or black. It never disappoints.

Recently, a friend of mine wouldn’t stop sobbing when she was robbed of her bag in an open street in broad daylight. We asked her terrified, what all she had lost with the bag. “Nothing! The bag just had a notebook and petty cash.” Before we could take a sigh of relief, she exploded, “But it was a Louis Vuitton!” and broke into loud squalls and suddenly we knew just how she felt. Nothing haunts like the bag we lost accidentally!

While it may sound amusing for a Farhan Akhtar to mock a girl’s Bagwati in Bollywood flicks, in reality when a man weds a woman, he also brings home Mrs. Bagwati, the bride’s favourite auntyji. To know how precious this third member of the family is, how about trying to ask her to leave behind the aunt on a private holiday trip?

Image source: woman with a handbag by Shutterstock.

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