Getting Sari Blouses Made in India: The Strange Situation

Essays, India, Jaipur, Travel Tips, Uncategorized

It was the exact type of experience in India I knew to steer far clear of.

But it’s amazing what little sleep, just wanting to get a job done, and wanting to get on with things will do to someone. I’m still not sure if it’s an experience I regret doing… it’s just something that happened.

On our last day in Delhi, my friend and I spent hours shopping for saris but didn’t have enough time to get blouses made before jetting off to Jaipur for the next few days. Our hostel sent a rickshaw to pick us up at the airport and when he heard that we needed sari blouses, he was all for helping us out.

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Budgeting a Trip to India

Agra, Delhi, India, Jaipur, Travel Tips, Uncategorized

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I hope this chart is helpful for you in planning your own trip to India! I’m a major budgeting/planner and I love to have an idea of how much money I could possibly spend in a country. This budget is on the higher end with me not wanting to spend more than $1,500. We really weren’t concerned with how much we were spending and were free to shop and go to as many attractions as we wanted (which really isn’t hard in India). We also traveled more for the specific purpose of going to a wedding. As guests, our housing was covered for the days we were there and we spent our free day just relaxing with a movie at a mall.

Sari Shopping: Tips for Bargaining in India

Agra, Delhi, Essays, India, Jaipur, Travel Tips, Uncategorized

We shoved our way down crowded back alleys as men lugged crates larger than themselves on their shoulders. Everywhere we turned, there was something bright and glittery to see: the sari or saree, depending on where you are.

A brief walk from Chandni Chowk Station, with large signs to guide our way, the market was filled with the brightly colored garments, along with beautiful lehengas. We started walking the main road before making our way further in.

“Well,” I said as we made our back to the main road, “I guess we’ll need to go in somewhere.”

We passed by more storefronts with mannequins made up in dazzling, bejeweled saris. Some of these were the same ones we went past twice.

Finally we came to a store, took a deep breath and opened the door as we slipped off our shoes.

The faces of a family picking out a bridal gown from their positions on the plushly matted floor stared up at us. Everything in me wanted to turn back out.

“We’re looking for saris,” I told a man who came to ask what he could do for us, “for a wedding.”

“Well, you’ve come to the right place,” he said as he ushered us to the back of the narrow room, tip-toeing past the family, with shelves stacked high with saris. He had us sit down, one on the mat, one on a small wooden stool. “Have you ever worn a sari?”

My friend shook her head no, and I nodded vaguely—three years ago, I remembered, being in a friends house being draped in the thick, purple and green sari over my blouse and pants—but did that really count?

“Well, up up,” he said.

I motioned for my friend to follow his instructions and another man came forward with a rope to tie the sari onto her waist. He draped it with expert fashion, pulling it through his hands to make folds once, twice, three times, more times than I could count.

“This is an easy sari,” he said. “The skirt is already draped, so the only thing she’d have to worry about is the piece that goes over the shoulder.”

It was true—a brooch rested on the waist that gathered the fabric into pre-folds.

“It would be easy for me to put on myself back home,” my friend said as she admired herself in a mirror.

I snapped photos and eyed a pile of lehengas in a corner.

The man followed my gaze and I asked, “Could I wear a lehenga to a wedding?”

What to Pack for India

Agra, Delhi, Essays, India, Jaipur, Travel Tips, Uncategorized

Through the winding back streets of the spice market, my friend led me to a hidden set of stairs she visited the previous day on a walking tour.

“We can see down into the mosque from the roof,” she said as we climbed flight after flight of stairs with large, open windows overlooking a residential area.

“Are you sure we can be up here?” I asked—I asked the same thing when we entered a hotel a few minutes before for the purpose of washing our hands.

She waved me off, “It’s fine, it’s fine. We did it yesterday.”

On the third floor, a man stood peering out the window and halfway turned to watch us as we continued our journey.

Finally on the roof, we were met with a remarkable view over the entire market, the mosque, the people int he distance, and the rows of spices down below. The man followed us.

A few other tourists milled about with large, expensive cameras shooting the concrete landscape.
One’s guide roughly shoved his backpack into his hands. “Don’t leave this lying around,” he said. “Someone could steal it.”

We climbed onto a huge concrete platform to get an even better view of the city as all left but one man and the man who followed us.

I stood on one side of the platform taking pictures until I heard my friend explain, “Hey! Why is your light on?”

Indeed, the man who followed us was boldly trailing after my friend with the flashlight on his phone turned on—to peer through her skirt.

“Hey,” I said, “Leave her alone.”