Salwar Kameez Pleez

Gina writes:

This entry is a little late, but we've been really busy this week in classes, exploring Delhi, and spending time with the other volunteers.

Last Saturday, Corey and I decided to venture to Dilli Haat, a nearby marketplace known for crafts and foods from various parts of India. On the map, it looked fairly close to our hostel, so we decided to walk. However, walking a few kilometers in Delhi is very very very different from walking in the U.S. First, the dust and pollution of Delhi made our throats sore after walking along the busy streets. Second, the lack of sidewalks and so much construction made the walk a bit treacherous, since we had to pick our way along the streets, keeping as close to edge (and as far from passing traffic) as possible.

In any case, we arrived at the market in one piece and began perusing the stands. This particular market had a lot of household goods shops, cloth shops, purse/bag shops, and kitchen staples shops. We weren't looking to buy anything in particular, basically just taking in a typical Delhi experience. As we walked past a big shop selling gorgeous swaths of cloth, one of the shopkeepers urged us to sit down.

We sat down to look at the cloth, since I had planned on purchasing a few sets of salwar kameez. This is the traditional dress worn by Indian women. I'll have to wear these suits every day once we arrive in Koraput; (not everyone in Delhi wears them, since Delhi is more modern, but in rural areas, all women do). The shopkeeper showed us sample after sample after sample of cloth, in all different colors and patterns. I was overwhelmed by all the choices, but ended up choosing two sets that I was happy with. With all the activity, I was too anxious to drive a hard bargain, so ended up paying a little more than I should have (about $28 for the two sets), but lesson learned...

I took the cloth to the tailor across the way. He took probably two dozen measurements and asked questions about neckline, length, fit, etc. Then he said the suits would be ready the next day and would be 300 rupees for both (about $7)!

We had some trouble catching a rickshaw home, since a fence dividing the road prevented us from being able to ask rickshaws that were actually driving in the direction of our hostel. Also, the area didn't feel very safe after dark and smelled horrible! Once we got back to the hostel, we were a bit shaken, but we were glad to have had a very authentic Delhi adventure.

Side note: it wasn't until after we returned to the hostel that we realized we weren't even at Dilli Haat, like we thought, but were in fact across the street at INA market! No wonder we didn't see any crafts or food from around India!

The next morning, we returned to the same area to pick up my salwar kameez and find Dilli Haat. The trip was mercifully uneventful. Dilli Haat was okay, though a bit touristy, and we got the suits as promised.

I wore both salwar kameez this week, to get used to them. They are so comfortable! The scarf is constantly falling off my shoulders, but all in all, I'm super-excited about my new "uniform"!