Field Note: Traditions
A small tidbit first:
A sari is a strip of unstitched cloth, worn by women, ranging from four to nine yards in length that is draped over the body in various styles which is native to India. The word “sari” is derived from Sanskrit and translates to “strip of cloth.” I had the opportunity to wear one with my friends from my study abroad program and this is what happened.
I didn’t know what a sari was until I came to India. I’d watch the women walk down the street in beautiful cloth and wonder how I’d never known about or seen a sari before. Saris turn out to be the traditional dresses worn by Indian women. One piece of cloth wraps around the waist and shoulders and drapes like a wonderful dress. In olden times, the different types of cloth diffe
rentiated a person’s status in society and represented how much wealth they were associated with. Nowadays, saris can be worn by any woman. A few friends and I decided that we would join in on the tradition of wearing saris by buying a few of them to head out to town.
There is a section of Bangalore city (where I reside) that sells just about everything. There are stalls with home appliances, jewelry reparations, food products, and even underwear stands. Together as a group we went shopping for saris. In the shop we happened upon, the walls were lined with folded saris—which is quite typical. Sari shops are usually lined with hundreds upon hundreds of saris, of which the vendors pull out willingly to have you try on, which is exactly what we did. Each of us chose a sari and were wrapped individually. If we didn’t like that particular sari, the sales people would urge us to try another, or as many as we wanted, it was unbelievable how patient they were with us. After all of us had chosen our saris we then planned a night out to wear our newly bought Indian dresses.
A dinner was held to celebrate our last days in India so we all bought saris to wear out dining. Seventeen girls in our study abroad program were prancing around in saris in such a colorful array of cloth. Excited to show off our Indian getup, we took to walking down the street toward the Bollywood restaurant located near our apartments. Our reservation was in a few minutes so we headed out to leave when suddenly, it began pouring rain. “Rain? Now? No!” was our first thought. There was no other choice but to run as fast as we could. With no umbrellas and long trains from our saris, we scuffled as quickly as we could down the wet road. Can you imagine seventeen American girls in saris running through the busy streets of India? It was a spectacle, I bet.
When we finally arrived at the restaurant we were a bit damp and all the servers were looking at us with heads turned to their sides. Outside a storm was stewing and we rushed into the doors despite the strange stares of everyone around. Giggling to our seats, we ordered our food.