Today has been a strange one. We stayed in the apartment all morning as our driver, and everyone else apparently, was at temples this morning at Pujja for Dusserha. It was very quiet on the roads, in the apartment block, just quiet. It’s very noisy in Bangalore so it was really noticeable.
We had planned to go to Mysore to watch the festivities as Mysore is famous for its Dusserha celebrations. However this year the celebrations have been scaled down and brought back to basics in the midst of a row between the Government and the King of Mysore. As a consequence we were advised to stay away and go next year instead. Our plans were somewhat thwarted and with everyone on a National holiday it was difficult to know what to do.
We asked our driver to turn up at midday today so he could spend the morning with his family at Pujja. He arrived with his car completely decorated – flowers and painted with spices – 3 stripe and also yellow circles with red dots. These were on the doors, petrol cap, tyres, bonnet, boot etc. The car had been blessed. Yellow flowers decorated the front of the bonnet.
The entrance to Maple Suites had also been decorated with palm leaves, flowers and what looked like melons.
Shops were also decorated.
We headed into the city to go to Mysore Saree Udyog on Kamaraj Road. This is normally a very busy part of time. The traffic is usually heaving. Today there were a few cars on the road and plenty of parking – we even managed to park outside the shop. Naraya our driver said he would stay there as the police were on holiday too!
Mysore Saree Udyog is a large store selling material for sarees and salwar kameez amongst other things. It had been recommended by another UK expat as the best place to go to buy something traditional for the school’s Diwali party. I was going to have to buy something as the container is due to arrive the day after the party, so buying something traditional which I could wear for several occasions whilst I am here sounded like a good idea.
We walked into the shop and stopped dead in our tracks. It was a riot of colour and people. We had no idea where to start or where to look. We just stood there and looked. About 30 seconds later we were approached by a supervisor who asked what we were looking for. When I said I wanted something for a Diwali party, but not a Saree, he asked another assistant to help us.
She took us to the top floor of the shop were we took off our shoes and sat down whilst she produced a variety of material sets which could be made up into a skirt, top and scarf – a Lengah. There then ensued a disjointed conversation, due to the language barrier, whilst I asked for a ready made outfit that I could try on and take home and she explained that it was not possible – I had to buy the material set and get it sewn. It was disconcerting as I am not used to shopping that way and I also don’t sew!
We moved to another area and she showed me a variety of different outfits and styles the material could be made into, how the material and patterns flow and what it could look like made up. After another conversation we decided to ditch the skirt combo and go for the trousers, long top and scarf – also known as salwar kameez. We were led to a different floor and sat at along table and again a wide variety and multitude of material sets were presented to me. It was fast and furious. I narrowed it down, with Rez and Zahra’s assistance, to two material sets and I selected the one I liked the most.
There was then another conversation about how I could get it sewn. I explained it was for a Diwali party and needed it by next Friday (the party is on Saturday). There was much exchange of views between the assistant and the supervisor, who was making calls. It turns out they were calling a tailor down the road to see if he had the capacity to complete the outfit for next Friday. When it was established he had – they then explained and led us to “billing” (the checkout). After Rez had paid £73 for the material we were led by a different assistant, bare foot, carrying our material, down the road to a different ‘mall’ (like a local indoor market) to a tailor at the back.
He took the material and quickly measured me and advised on what he thought would look best as regards length and fit. I took his word for it as I had no idea. It took about 5 mins and he wrote a receipt and we go back next week to pick it up and pay the £3.50 to the tailor to make the outfit! The cheapest made to measure outfit ever. It will be interesting to see the quality of the sewing for £3.50. Photos of the completed outfit will follow in due course.
We then headed to UB City (a mall with only designer shops) to go to the food court at the top. We ate at an Italian restaurant and both Rez and Zahra enjoy their cheese penne pasta dish. After Zahra cooled off in the fountain we headed back to the apartment.
We passed lots of auto rickshaws being blessed at temples. We released our driver at 4pm. We had tried to give him the day off but he was insistent he worked. So we agreed the late start and surprised him with the early finish. He got a double tip from us today too for working on a national holiday -even if it was for only a few hours. (I only state that to avoid the influx of questions about why our driver worked on a National holiday).
We’re spending the evening watching movies in the apartment. It’s been a strange day but enjoyable nonetheless.