Indian Clothing Here and There

Leslie Woodford

NoteIndian Clothing is part of a travel blog that I wrote during an extended business trip to India. I spent two months in New Delhi as my employer implemented a new business unit in two of its call centers. In addition to my professional work, I took time to study Hindi, an effort that fostered greater co-operation and trust among my Indian business associates. It also helped me better understand the culture. We believe that language opens a gateway to understanding culture. These pages focus on my observations and experiences in India. While I was there, I practiced Walkabout Language Learning. See the list of "More India Stories" on this page to explore how culture and language intertwine.

A taylor sews me a sareeA tailor in India sews me a saree.
Leslie Woodford
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Well, apparently, I've settled into the routine here, as I can't think of any cultural quirks to highlight for this week. The week passed quickly at work. I am busy from the time that I get here until the time that I go home. I didn't work as many hours this week as last, but still managed to put in a couple 12 hour days. A lot of the people here seem to work these long hours regularly. It is pretty incredible to me, especially considering that they are paid only a fraction of the amount that their US counterparts are.

I visited the market again. I had a couple of interesting experiences. First, I took pictures of some of the begging children. I made the mistake of giving them a few coins to thank them for the pictures. Two of the girls attached themselves to me for the remainder of my shopping trip. They followed me around palms up, begging for more coins.

Leslie wears a sareeI wear my saree on special occassions.
Alex Woodford

The other interesting experience was getting a custom made saree. The picture to the right shows a man sewing me a saree. Clothing here is often custom made. I purchased the fabric, he took my measurements and set to work sewing the form fitting blouse. I continued shopping at the market. When I returned half an hour or so later, he was done. No pattern, just a skilled tailor.

During my stay in India, I met a large man American man; he was both tall and broad--fat. He and his wife have been living in India for years. Every year, the tailor comes to their home for a few weeks and sews him custom made clothing. The tailor sets up shop on the couple's balcony, sit on the balcony floor with his sewing machine, and at night, he beds down on their balcony. It was the only way that oversized American man could find clothes in his size.

Sudhir--the driver--bought a shirt today. It has a Gap price tag on it for $38.00. He bought it for 200 rupees, about 4 dollars. I told him that in America, people would buy that shirt for about 1700 rupees. He was amazed. It was so interesting to see the look on his face. A look that said, "Why would anybody be so crazy as to pay that much for a shirt that is only worth 200 rupees?" I wonder the same thing ...

Indian Clothing in the Country

Yesterday, Saturday, I went sightseeing again. This time out to the countryside. It is interesting to see the contrast just going a few miles outside of the city. People wear different Indian clothing. Many more of the women keep their faces covered by wearing the end of their saree over their heads. Their clothing--the women's--is brightly colored, and most of them were wearing sarees, as opposed to western clothing, or even a salwar kameez. The countryside was pretty. We went out to a lake and rented a paddle boat. It was painfully hot paddling around at high noon. I guess we didn't plan our activities very well, but luckily it was only half an hour.

In the evening, I went to a regional handicrafts market. That was fun. It was called Dilli Haat. There were stalls with people from all over India selling handmade items from their region; many were selling Indian clothing. I asked a couple people if I could take their pictures. They were more than willing to oblige, and had big grins on their faces too. I expected that they'd want money, but when I was done, they wanted me to send them copies of the pictures! I got their addresses so I can, but I only took a couple of pictures after that because otherwise, I'd be sending too many letters to India after I get home and develop the film.

Click the banner below to go to Fashionika, an online Indian fashion boutique, and peruse Indian clothing, including sarees, salwar kameezes and more.

Indian Designer Ethnic Wear

--Posted by Leslie, Sunday August 24

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