Thursday, July 24, 2008

Monday, June 2 - Dad's last day in India

Still a bit shaky on our feet from our bout of stomach trouble on Sunday, Byron went to work and Mani took the rest of us shopping at T. Nagar, as Dad wanted to purchase a shirt.

Since I had never shopped for men’s clothing, I didn’t know which shop to go to in the T. Nagar shopping district. Mani suggested Kumaran Store, which is a bit on the pricier side, but features good quality. We found that the men’s clothing is on the opposite side of the store than the entrance from the street. We actually had to walk down a narrow stairwell, and kept walking further and further away from what looked like civilization, until we found a remote room full of men’s shirts. Perhaps men like to shop in secret.

Dad looked at a myriad of shirts, with more and more being held up for his inspection every moment, until he said he really liked the style of shirt that the doorman was wearing when we entered Kumuran Store. Dad returned to the doorman to ask him where he got his shirt, while the girls and I remained in the men’s clothing section to be stared at. I wouldn’t be surprised if we were the only western females they’d had in that section of the store all year.

Dad reappeared, and said that the doorman had not bought his shirt here. Drat. Finally, Dad found a shirt he liked, and we were off to the children’s ready-made section of the store to shop for a sari for Erin and one for Heidi, as both girls wanted one.

We were getting familiar with this store, and found our way to the right floor. But I was out of my league buying saris. I hadn’t the slightest idea how to go about it, and trying these on over clothes was just too baffling. For example, the sari blouse is supposed to be very, very snug, and thus it doesn’t really fit if it can go on over your current shirt. And I had no idea how to wrap my child up in that long cloth to see how the sari looked on her. So, we just tried sari blouses on Erin, whom you might remember has that sensitive skin issue. Blouse after blouse was rejected, as it poked or irritated her skin. The Indian clerks seemed to be getting annoyed, and that didn’t help things. I was simply unable to explain that yes, the saris they were offering were beautiful, but if the fabric or the seams irritated Erin’s skin, they were just unacceptable. I think the clerks thought that I didn’t think their saris were good enough. Sigh.

Okay, after 30 minutes of trying on saris with Erin, we gave up on finding something for her at this store, and I turned to Heidi. Heidi wanted to try on some pretty skirts she’d seen hanging across the way, so we tried on a couple of skirts just for fun. We could find nothing in Heidi’s size, and Heidi began to get testy because she didn’t understand why I didn’t want to buy the skirt that looked awfully cute, but wasn’t supposed to be that tight or short on her.

So, I began shopping for saris for Heidi. Perhaps because I wasn’t quite over my “not feeling well” daze, I didn’t notice how Dad was looking until we had almost finished sari shopping for Heidi. He looked terrible. I asked him how he felt, and he said, “Awful.” Oh dear.

Heidi, meanwhile, was still in her testy mood and moodily indicated she liked the first sari we tried on her. It was hot pink, and actually quite lovely looking. The clerks were so excited to try saris on this little blonde toddler, and all gathered around. I wasn’t sure that we should buy the first sari we tried on, but Heidi said she liked it, and Dad was looking worse by the minute, so I said, “We’ll take it.” Happily, they offered to altar it for Heidi for free, if I could just pick it up the next day.

We made a beeline for the car, and were happy to get home and collapse on the couch, still weak from our loss of sleep and horrid sickness from the weekend.

Dad took some medicine that he’d brought along, and seemed a bit better after a nap. We stayed at the house the rest of the day, as we didn’t have much energy left.

That night, Grandfafa said goodbye to the girls. Then Mani, Dad, and I left for the airport. I was hoping to find an Indian pin for a friend back home (who would have thought that an simple Indian souvenir-type lapel pin would be impossible to find? We’d looked all over Chennai, Agra and even in Delhi). I thought that perhaps the Chennai airport might have shops that sold souvenir things like this.

Upon dropping Dad off, I discovered that if you don’t have an airline ticket, you have to pay a fee just to enter the airport. Not having a lot of money on me, and thinking that probably most the shops would be closed at this time of day (midnight), I thought I might not go in. I bid Dad farewell, and prayed that his sickness wouldn’t make his flight miserable. (I am happy to report that Dad had a good flight, and that the worst part of his sickness seemed to be gone by the time of his flight. Hooray for antibiotics!)

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