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Sunday, May 1, 2011

West Coast Girls are Unforgettable

Mehendi magic!
Katy Perry and Snoop Dog called it right in their song from last summer - California Gurls; west coast girls are very fun.   This past week we had a convergence of people in Bangalore and it was the first time in nearly a year that I got to see my colleague Mary (from San Fran).     I have to say Mary was up on my blogs as she arrived with a generous stack of magazines - Redbook, Cosmo, InStyle, Yoga must have been 5Kg worth of literary candy.     Additionally a mini pillow case of Easter Candy for the kids and some wine make for the perfect Friday night chez moi in Bangalore.   But on to more important events of day 1 in Bangalore.   Mary and a few other ladies needed authentic Indian attire for a formal dinner at the Leela Hotel.     For most of us, this is an exciting opportunity - bust out wear a sari, bangles, mehendi and bling it up.    

I won't go into Mary's shopping experience but I will share with you mine recently and you can note - I've asked around, it's pretty universal.     Getting a Sari is an exciting adventure for anyone; stacks of silks, chiffons, embellished trims and uniquely embroidered choices overwhelm you.   Any store is happy to see me walk in because in general, I am not sure of what sari is appropriate for what which makes selling me anything pretty easy.    No need to change your clothes, the sales attendant (most often a man) will wrap you up and secure the 9 feet of fabric with a mock belt.   Spin around to the nearest mirror and you are transformed.    I now have two saris and one lengha (which i thought was a sari and now have been told it's really for weddings only).  The blouse piece (mid-drift baring top) is usually custom made to fit you like a second skin from an extra piece of fabric attached at the end of your sari.   I have recently found a shop that sells ready made blouses - which makes me happy since I went to a men's tailor the first time and ended up with a CRAZY tight blouse.   I guess we know who that tailor was designing for!     Where things get complicated is when you are shopping for a salwar kameez - more of a dress style top (often to the knees) with leggin' pants.   Being slightly oversized for the south Indian population, I have a tough time getting the dress even over my head.    If I can find a top with a zip, then I conquer the first hurdle often to find my shoulders are cricket player sized and my arms don't move.   If you are not prepared for your normal size in the US to translate to an XXL+ here in India, this can be quite humiliating. 
Two California Girls Looking
Super Fab in Saris!!!
The best advice I received was to go with the flow.  You can always try shopping at the stores in large hotels who often cater to foreigners; you can find a trusty size medium that fits as you expect.   Oh and if your feet are 9.5 or larger (US sizes) you might save your self frustration in the shoe shopping area too...i recently bought some lovely sandals only to find out they are actually considered a size 12 here!   But if you can embrace a new experience, not be hung up on sizes or who joins you in the fitting room to wiggle that kurta or salwar kameez over your head - you might just find a winner that will get lots of oohs and aaahs back in the States.

1 comment:

  1. truly had a great day with you and thanks for the sari barbie!