Sunday, July 27, 2008

So Sari

Apparently when you buy a sari you have to finish it yourself.

After arriving in Udaipur and breathing a sigh of relief that Anita and her mom didn't think I had been totally ripped off buying the sari, we made arrangements for me to go to a tailor to do the finishings. Anita's mother's friend, whom I was instructed to call Auntie, came to pick me up in an autorickshaw and we headed to town (for that adventure, see the next post).

I had brought my backpack to have the back panels fixed where they had worn away and the rubbery cushioning was coming through. We first stopped at a shop where there were many Indian backpacks (popular with kids here are these rectangular backpacks that strap onto their backs horizontally) and bags. The man agreed to fix it for 90 rupees.

Then we headed to another shop (shop being basically a tiny cramped stand) filled to the ceiling with folded cloths of every color and shade. We picked the color of the petticoat that I will wear underneath the sari (“we” meaning Auntie and the tall lanky man running the shop. I stood there watching them. If anyone looked at me, I nodded vigorously), and the color of the lining. Apparently one edge of the sari is unfinished and you have to finish it. I don't know why.

After picking our fabrics, we went to another shop, that was a mostly empty room that was slightly larger than the other shops, so you could actually enter, and so we took off our shoes. It was in a corner, so it had open doors on 2 walls, which was nice. This was the tailor. Actually, he was the blouse specialist, as Auntie explained. His grandfather and father had also been tailors, all specializing only in making the blouse for saris. The sari comes with the material for the blouse, and it my case it has sparkly rhinestones in the area that is supposed to go over your arms, but otherwise it is just a rectangle of fabric. Auntie and the tailor talked for a long time in Hindi, often picking up an edge of the sari and thrusting it dramatically or waving their arms in the direction of locations outside the shop. It sounded like they were arguing, but as I have learned, it always does and they usually aren’t. My guess is that he was telling her that he only does the blouse, and where to do the rest of the tailoring.

Eventually he took my measurements. Auntie asked me details, like if it was ok if the stomach was open, and whether I wanted the back to dip, and whether I wanted the front neckline like this or like that. Like I have a clue. I told her I trusted her opinion.

Then we went to the other tailor, who had an indoor shop filled with saris. There was a front entranceway where we took off our shoes, and then a larger room inside with a cushioned mat. There were many customers - women in saris – in the store. We quickly asked him to hem it with the lining we had chosen. This would cost 20 rupees (50 cents!).

We picked up my backpack, which was repaired much better than I expected, with black patches over the eroded areas. He wanted an additional 50 rupees, which I paid. Then we headed back. Auntie was so nice, offering to take me anywhere else I needed, and she said I could call her the next day if I needed help shopping. She said we would have to pick up the sari on Sunday morning – the shops are closed but the tailor would be there so we could pick it up.

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