Here is something you may not know about Indian women- they LOVE TO SHOP. You may say this is a worldwide female phenomenon but you have not been with these gals! I say this with full knowledge that my Indian friends will not refute this generalisation. In fact they are quite proud of the activity, we may even call it a national past time of middle and upper class women. It’s all they do on weekends and if you have been fortunate enough to work with them like me, you have to answer some pretty disturbing questions about why you can even contemplate wearing the same outfit twice in a month, yes in a month not week!
There is even a CNN story which claims a poll conducted showed that a whopping 87 % of Indian women spend a large disposable income on themselves and 96% of women surveyed said they spend it on clothes!
The average Indian woman has a store from where she buys fabrics and another store with a tailor who knows her size, her likes and is busy stitching her outfits every week or so (oh and tailors charge about 300 bob to do an outfit. Absolutely no excuse not to dress in new gear). So when I first landed, I had to quickly adjust and get me a tailor which never quite worked out (long story).
South India unlike North India, does not share the love and appreciation of western clothing (suits,skirts,tops ) that we wear in Kenya. Works out well for me coz I really do love Indian dressing.
And now to the Saree. This very sexy item of dressing am informed has been in Indian wardrobes for centuries. The men also have an equivalent called the dhoti/lungi. At the start of my stay in India I could not quite fathom how women walk around showing their midriffs-young,old,thin and fat. It in fact took me quite some time getting used to (Imagine your boss and other senior women at work walking around showing their stomachs). I mean it does seem kinda obscene right?
Well that was then, this is now. I love sarees and find them quite exquisite. Unfortunately am not going to tell you how to tie a saree because apparently there are more than a hundred ways to do it.Yep,the way one ties the saree in Mumbai is different from the way it’s done in Gujarat or even Rajasthan! I know how to tie the South Indian saree, thanks to my mother-in-law.
Women wear the saree to work but the most exquisite fabrics are to be seen during weddings when they go all out. See, a saree cannot be worn without accompaniments, which of course is BLING– gold earings, gold nose rings, gold bracelets/ bangles and of course the gold chains. It’s a good thing that crime is not a problem in India. I think in Kenya, such weddings would be no go zones as every woman going to a wedding dresses to dazzle 🙂
Lastly I will describe what happens in Saree stores. You enter with a throng of women (and men too in fact) and are immediately met by friendly staff who ask if you are looking for silk, cotton etc etc, and fabrics from which part of India? Kancheepurum in Tamilnadu? Jaipur in Rajasthan? Kolkata in West Bengal? The list is endless. It’s all good for these girls for they know exactly what they want. Having no clue myself I whisper I want a certain colour. I am of course immediately whisked away to an entire floor which contains sarees of my colour and thankfully they are arranged from corner to corner based on their pricing (cost is really MY deciding factor..he he ).
In Jaipur, I was offered a place to sit, was served tea and gorgeous fabric after fabric opened up and spread out for me by overzealous and smiling employees. Oh, Indian customer service! They do know how to make you part with your money.
Some images of the saree world and for the ambitious ones, an image on how to tie a standard saree 🙂