Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuesday, June 3 - Excuse me, do you have orange saris?

Now that we have dolls, Dawn has a new quest: Find a sari for Erin, and perhaps one for Dawn. This quest proves no less daunting than looking for Indian dolls. Mani took us back to T. Nagar, which has the best shopping in town (less expensive than shops in our neighborhood and Spencer Plaza, and a wide variety of goods available).

Before the day was over, Erin had tried on every sari in her size in 8 different shops. Mani looked crazed. For some reason, children’s saris offer much less variety than ladies’ saris. Most the saris she tried on, though we were trying them on at different stores, seemed to be made of a coarse, itchy, thick type of fabric that Erin’s skin just couldn’t tolerate. Erin also had taken a liking to the cream and orange-colored saris that all the clerks wore at the Saravana Store. And orange was NOT one of the colors we could find in children’s sizes.

During this shopping excursion, with Mani taking us to every single store in T. Nagar he could fathom that might have children’s saris, I was excited and a little disappointed to find some really interesting shops that I wished I’d known about earlier in a totally different section of T. Nagar called “Podee Bazaar.” These shops sold truly Indian wares—such as the powder for bindy-dots, and the yellow turmeric for Hindus who wish to have wisdom (they rub it into their skin)—in large bowls in the open-air markets. When you have only one week left in India, there just isn’t time to explore all the wonderful shops and places, so it’s almost disappointing to find a new place that just begs to be explored.

In the midst of the sari-shopping, we returned to Kumuran Store to pick up Heidi’s altered sari. For some reason we had to pick it up on the shoe/makeup floor (where Lily and Heidi had bonded with all the clerks long ago when Erin and I had been earnestly shopping for shoes). The clerks all remembered Lily’s and Heidi’s names, and eagerly mobbed them.

How excited they were to take Heidi into a dressing room (they had a dressing room on the shoe/makeup floor, but not on the floor where they actually sell clothes. . . ?!) and dress this little girl in a sari. I went in too, of course, to learn how to put a sari on a child. Then they brought Heidi out to display her in all her Indian clothes to the rest of the waiting and adoring group of clerks, and I thought they were going to begin cheering. (The Indians just love it when westerners, particularly the kids, particularly Heidi, dress in Indian clothes).

One clerk ran over and asked if Heidi would like a bindi dot. Then she asked if I’d like one. Never one to refuse something new, I said, “sure.” The lady pulled out what looked like a sheet of stickers, and pulled off a black raised dot, and stuck one to Heidi’s forehead, then another to my forehead. Who knew these came in sticker sheets? I’d only seen them in red powder form in the Hindu temples.

Heidi’s sari was still a bit too long, but I suppose that’s better than being too short. We broke ourselves away and returned to Mani, who said he thought we should go home and try sari shopping for Erin again tomorrow. Personally, I think males have much less stamina for shopping than females, as I had the interest and energy to hit a few more shops.

After riding in the car for awhile, I brushed my hair out of my face and my hand hit a funny scab-like thing on my forehead. Without thinking, I brushed it off, forgetting that I was sporting a bindi-dot. I’m telling you., those bindi-dots just look better on Indian skin than they do on pale American skin. When I wore a red bindi dot, I looked like I’d been hit in the forehead and was bleeding. When I wore a black bindi-dot, I looked like I had a little scab right in the middle of my forehead. It wasn’t at all attractive on me.

I still can’t eat much at all, and Sahji and Chandra-shake-uh are at their wit’s end. I think Sahji actually wrung his hands in worry. I keep assuring him that missing a few meals isn’t going to hurt me in the least. He seems unconvinced.

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