Thanks to my Indian friends in Atlanta, there is always an Indian party going on (nudge to Anjali!), so I absolutely need a real Indian outfit. My original Indian trip to Delhi 5 years ago produced salwar for Anu’s wedding – so this time it was going to be saree for Misha.
Thankfully, I had Richa, my US-Indian team mate who is originally from Allahabad and makes things happen here. You do not want to get in her way – we get table in a busy restaurant (or empty one because they are “busy” somehow), she negotiates everything, yells at drivers who are very late, walks with me to the pedicure place to find out the price of a service, etc… She organized the men in that store like noone.
The colors were absolutely stunning. Varanasi is famous for Banarasi silk, which has golden thread in the silk. Given my annual use, I really don’t need such a fancy outfit, so after a few color choices, I picked sea green saree, got the top stitched in 2 hours and here is my custom made saree!
I managed to pick one up for Mia too so she and I will rock the next Diwali party. The shopping itself in Varanasi was typical “attack on tourist”. I can manage “strong no” but when everything is basically $1 a piece, I tend to buy lots of sympathy souvenirs – think lots of bangles, a few Ganeshes, some jewelry, …the women with babies knew how to target their next victim as I was a center of attention for many poor mothers with babies on them asking for money for milk. It takes everything in me to say no because they keep coming back and ask for more. Those little children, naked, barefoot and dirty just can’t leave you untouched – but everyone in India will tell you not to pay attention as they will multiply in 5 minutes. These are the type of situations when I wish I could just really have an impact and do something that directly impacts them. The poverty is overwhelming, the children innocent and the situation at times feels hopeless…. but at least I am here and doing something or maybe just seeing it and bringing it back will increase the awareness.. I have to hope it does something, a bit more than me sitting on the couch in Atlanta, watching TV 🙂