It all begins with an innocuous enough question,
“How does this saree look?”
“Hmm…it’s looking good! The green really suits you.”
“Oh, is it blue then?”
“Aw come on…can’t you see it’s turquoise!!”
Thus begins the quibbling over colours and their names and the whole generalisation of how men are from Mars and women are from Venus. It’s not just about the fact that studies have shown that 8 to 10 percent of men have some form of mild colour blindness in distinguishing certain colours as compared to only 0.5 percent among females (apparently it is a genetic thing that has something to do with the X chromosome). It’s not even about gender stereotypes. Nevertheless, i’ve found that most men like to keep their colour distinctions simple. Like my husband loves to say, nature gave us seven colours of the rainbow and some basic shades so why must we complicate things by having a hundred more names! So pink can be light pink or dark pink but if you mention ‘fuschia’ an exasperated tirade will surely follow! Many have similar paroxysms over names like ‘tangerine’, ‘burgundy’, or even the simple ‘mauve’
One of my husband’s junior used to gleefully relate this story of how when he earned his first salary he took his younger college-going-sister shopping for a new tee shirt. She had insisted on his getting her something in her new favourite shade of ‘mauve’ and he had derisively told her not to come up with funny names for simple colours! So they went to this shop where, as is customary in north India, the salesperson showed her tee shirt after tee shirt extolling the design and other qualities of each. Somehow she wasn’t impressed and finally asked him if he had anything in ‘mauve’ The salesperson apologetically replied, ‘Madam we keep most of the brands like Nike, Puma, Levi’s, Wrangler etc but we don’t have any products of the brand mauve.’ With much delight he would tell you how that day he felt vindicated that there were others like him who only knew the names of basic colours!
So yes we can stick to the basic palette of VIBGYOR but then where’s the element of exotic in that mundane distinction. Let the purists say what they want, i love the sounds of ‘aquamarine’ ‘charcoal-grey’ ‘burnt-sienna’ and the likes…they add colour to colours!!