The saying goes that a woman’s best friend is diamonds. Ask a modern woman and she will have no hesitation in saying that her handbag is her best friend. Just think for a moment—can you even exist without some kind of a handbag?
They come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, capacity and colours. The most basic one starts with the tiny purses that holds just some money and a bit of paper with some address or numbers written on it that is carried by the vegetable seller, household help, temple goer tucked into waist or hidden in the bosom. Most often these purses are freebies given by jewellers and prized by all. Then comes the slightly larger bag with two handles and maybe a piece of Velcro to close the gaping mouth—usually it is the thamboolam (return gifts with betel leaves and nuts, a coconut) bags given at weddings or occasions and can carry the small purse plus any other important document like a ration card, horoscopes, letters, bank pass books etc. plus medicines that the bearer may need to have regularly. The bag gets upgraded now to a formal handbag made of manmade material or leather or for the eco conscious brigade, jute or cotton/denim.
The bearer’s age and status is also a serious factor in deciding the type of handbag. The little girl off to a birthday party would carry a pretty little bag filled with a hanky and maybe a sweet or two. Her school bag would be decorated with a fairy tale or comic character and of course loaded with books. The transition from schoolgirl to college lass can be seen in the change of handbags to a tote or a stylish carry all. Enter the professional with the stylish laptop bag and classic shoulder slung black leather ‘handbag’ made popular by Queen Elizabeth. The need for evening bags is satisfied by elegant clutches, gold mesh evening bags with semi precious stone handles and ethnic brocade battuvas and draw string reticules.
Soon the huge handbag is needed as Mum has to practically run her household from it—from instant pick me ups like bars of chocolates, first aid kits, running repairs requisites, pins, games, notepapers, stamps, makeup—the list is endless as she never knows when an emergency may rise with kids and oldies in the family.
The years add on and the knees begin to give way, limbs totter and hands need to be free to hold on to available supports….the bus conductors strapped bag across the body offers freedom and security. Soon that dead weight too becomes unbearable and the drawstring bag of the working class woman becomes optimum carrier of bare essentials.
What goes into an alpha woman’s bag is another story. Even she does not know what her bag contains. When she sits down once in a couple of months to empty out her bag, out comes possible and impossible things from the average handbag weighing almost 2 kilos! The total number of individual items that can be found in a handbag is a staggering 381 million including high security risk items like diaries with personal details, cheque books, utility bills that are useful “proofs of identity” and even passports…a muggers dream catch.
Meanwhile, early this year a study revealed that the average weight of a woman’s handbag drastically came down as multi-purpose, slim and dinky gadgets replaced diaries, address books, Organizers, brick-like cell phones and heavy laptops. The iPhone, slim mobiles and miniature MP3 players have cut the dead weight from the burden of ladies giving hope that God’s beautiful symmetric creatures will be relieved of the awry droop inflicted on their shoulders by their heavy handbag. Fashion is now forecasting a return to smaller clutch bags replacing the bottomless holdalls that women have become addicted to.
Another major hazard is the number of places where a woman rests her handbag ranging from public places, toilets, car/taxi/ bus seats and floors and hotels, office desks etc. inadvertently collecting all kinds of bacteria and germs.
The answer is ‘declutter’ your bags regularly, replace them every few months and learn to carry less. Your bag need not become your security blanket as you cling to it thinking that it is your lifeline.