Along the Away

a traveler's tales

As I have a wedding to go to, it is essential to purchase a sari so that I can accompany my Indian family looking like a respectable Indian guest. Because it’s quite likely this sari will be my one and only, purchasing it was actually quite an overwhelming experience. Window shopping at the many sari stores here in Bangalore almost paralysed me. So many colours! So many patterns! So many fabrics! How do I choose?

Luckily we secured the help of Rashmi, who is my colleague in the Communication Department at Janaagraha, to navigate Alicia and I through the process. As we went along I was all the more grateful to be under her guidance; who knew sari buying was fraught with such social risks and potential faux pas’? It quickly became apparent that the biggest danger I was facing was that of Cringing Tackiness. Rashmi steered me clear of all the sparkling, embroidered, beaded and multi-coloured atrocities that my inner bollywood wannabe made a bee-line for. It was to be pure silk, colourful (but by no means rainbow-ed) and under no circumstances sparkle-y. Ok then. Minor head space adjustment required and then I was good to go.

The great sari search begins under Rashmi's guidance

If this narrowing down was supposed to make it easier it didn’t seem so; choice after choice was pulled down from the wall lined shelves holding thousands of pieces of folded material. After dismissing a lot, and admiring a few, the attendants gradually figured out where our tastes were going. Alicia, the black-workshipping Melbournite was favouring the darker options, and I, as everyone who knows me would predict, gravitated towards the pinks and purples.

Pink was inevitable.

The trying-on method involved the attendant pleating a panel of the fabric and then throwing it over one shoulder so we could parade and swish around in front of the mirror; like so:

Sari swishing, a necessary part of the sari buying process

We finally made out choices and paid up; both our sari’s were 100% natural silk and cost around the Rs 4000 each, so just under AU$100, and worth every rupee :)

Sari owners at last!

Buying the sari material doesn’t stop there – at this point it’s just a beautiful length of fabric! The next day Rashmi again helped us out and took us to a tailor who measured us up for our choli tops. The place was really tiny and there was fabric and thread everywhere, a guy on a sewing machine in the corner and a couple of guys on the floor hand sewing the clasps onto some choli tops.

A lot of work happening in a tiny space!

Cutting the fabric for the choli from the sari piece.

We were shown a book where we were able to pick from a book the shape we wanted the back of our choli top to look like, then told we could pick it up the next day. Needless to say, very exciting! The results will be seen in the next post: Indian Fantasy #1: Indian Wedding Success.

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Sydney based, coastal dwelling. When I'm not at work I'm somewhere outdoors, or in the yoga studio, or at my local cafe, or pottering at home.

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