Well, I have dealt with a Delhi tailor by myself and lived to tell the tale. Rather than go back to Karol Bagh to find some velvet for a jacket I am getting made, I shopped here in Pahar Ganj. I found a wonderful shop, which is in conjunction with the wonderful shop Paul has used previously, to buy curtain material, and they took me down an alleyway (of course) to their dress material shop. After many tales of ‘My wonderful country I am coming from’, photos of children, and all else that dealing with a wallah involves, I came out with three times more material than I intended to buy. Nice stuff though. They even wanted me to take their photo. Of course, at first I was only dealing with two men, but as soon as the camera came out, magically they had turned into about eight men. I guess their cousin, their uncle, their brother’s brother, the chai boy, the measuring boy, the fetching more material boy, etc made up the numbers. It was good fun though, and they were very pleasant guys. Only gently pushy as opposed to intensely so as one will get from most of the shops here.
I asked them to recommend to me a women’s tailor, as I can’t stand dealing with Paul’s one without the strong desire to strangle him coming over me, and they took me – yes folks, down an alleyway – to a Sikh one. Actually, he was really fabulous. He really knows his stuff, was able to get three outfits made in three days as opposed to twelve like another guy down the road I had checked out, and is also cheaper than the other two put together. We took a wander over the road to see a guy that sells piping, buttons and various and assorted shiny lovely things – a woman’s nirvana – and I came out with a couple of really awesome peacocks that will be sewn onto the jacket. This is going to be one unique piece of work! The fact remains, however, that I am now a much poorer woman than I was when I first walked into the material shop. Albeit it, soon to be a well-dressed one. I just hope that when the time comes to collect my garments, that I can find my way back through this myriad of alleyways to claim them.
By the way Jude, in answer to your questions, chai is a milky spicy tea that they drink here a lot. I had some from a restaurant the other night, but it was nowhere near as nice as the stuff you get when you go shopping. This is the stuff that the locals drink and it is far nicer.
Also, I have been able to do long raving emails because there are many cyber cafe’s here and they have air-conditioning. So I do this to cool down as well as communicate with y’all back home. It costs about 40 rupee per hour – around about 1 dollar. Well worth it for the chilled air. It’s often as crowded in these places as the local buses though. They squish as many people, computers and chairs as they can into (sometimes) a space the size of a large wardrobe. And I am now in the habit of regularly copying my writing on the clipboard, as one must expect at least one to two power cuts per hourly session.
I went to a cafe – actually called a German Bakery, although there hasn’t been a German in sight as far as I know – with the intention of having coffee and some of their delicious apple and honey cake, and wound up chatting with a Baba. A very nattily dressed one actually. We spoke of the world, people’s attachment to materialism, India, Ayurvedic medicine (did you know that some people here actually drink cow’s urine? Not sure what it does, but each to his own). Eventually he gets around to telling me that he reads palms. Naturally he offered to do mine, and since I had very little else to do I let him. Apparently my lucky number is 8, my lucky colour is turquoise (at least it wasn’t muddy brown or baby poo yellow), and I am going to be around to annoy my children for 84 – 86 years. Sorry kids – heh heh. Afterwards, having tied the obligatory good luck and prosperity piece of red string around my wrist, he asked me for one hundred rupees. Not for him, of course, because he is not attached to materialism, even if he is the best-dressed Baba in the neighbourhood, but for his Ashram which is supported many kids, cows and assorted other beings. So I met him half way and gave him 50 rupees, as he had only read one of my hands. Fair’s fair, I thought. Then he asked for one more rupee, because 51 is much more auspicious than fifty. So I handed this over and walked away feeling like I had definitely had my money’s worth of entertainment. So today has been rather a success I think. And at least my money belt won’t be so heavy to carry now. One has to look at the bright side of these things…..