Indian Journey Part V: Shopping for Indian Clothes

June 28, 2010 in India, Travel by pacejmiller

We wore stuff like this

Day 2 in Hyderabad started with a morning ritual at the wedding venue.  We took two separate auto rickshaws there (two in each), praying that we’d make it there in one piece as the driver zig-zagged against incoming traffic and as beggars hounded us for money at the one and only traffic light we stopped at (I don’t know why we didn’t stop at the other red lights…).

The exterior of the wedding venue

The venue was huge and white.  A little old, stained and cracked in some areas, but all things considered it was a pretty grand place to hold a wedding — especially if it was going for 3 days.  As I understood it, parts of the venue comprised serviced apartments were the attendees stayed overnight.  There are a couple of food halls too which people can wander in and out of when they feel hungry.

The interior of the wedding venue (before filled with seats)

The main wedding hall looked like a massive concert venue with a stage at the front and hundreds of chairs.  We found my marrying buddy in the middle of the stage with a few scantily clad Indian men chanting around him.  He looked absolutely exhausted.  I hadn’t seen him like this since…hang on, he’s a lawyer…he always looks like this!

After the first morning session, he came down to say hello.  He’s had 3 hours of sleep in the last two days, though in the weeks leading up to the wedding he wasn’t doing much better as it had been busy at work and he was doing most of the wedding planning between 2am and 5am each morning.  But as I told him, he’s had the best training possible (with all the long sleepless nights at work) for this 3-day event!

Soon, another session of chanting began, and we were asked to go to the food hall for lunch.  I will do a separate post on this later, but let’s just say it was very…interesting

The afternoon was dedicated to one thing and one thing only: shopping for Indian clothes for the big pre-wedding party that night (I think it’s called the “Sangeet” and/or “Mehendi” night).  We were given a chauffeur and my mate’s cousin, a feisty young Indian girl around 16 who spoke pretty good English and was happy to take us around (well, she was kind of forced into it, but nevertheless…).

After much driving, we ended up at this factory-looking place that sold traditional Indian clothing.  We had about 4 hours in total.  The girls took up about 3 hours and 45 minutes to find two dresses (one for tonight and the other for the wedding tomorrow).  The two guys (me and my ex-colleague from London) took about 15 minutes to find a single outfit (which we could wear both days, provided the stench doesn’t become overwhelming).

The girls’ outfits were called Salwar (the Sari, which is wrapped around, was too much trouble as it had to be tailored) and the guys wore the Kurta.

There was no bargaining involved, so I assumed it wasn’t done in this kind of place.  The outfits cost around 1,000 to 2,500 rupees, depending on quality, stitching and level of complexity.  We tended to like the simpler outfits, but the cousin told us that tonight had to be “grand”, and we needed to find something more extravagant.  She also told me she had an exam the next day (oops).  Somehow, I ended up with the most expensive outfit, though most agreed I fitted mine the best (ahem).  It was a tiring but strangely enjoyable experience trying on clothes from a different culture.

That night, after dousing ourselves in deodorant (these outfits made us very hot) we set off in the chauffeured car back towards the wedding venue.  On our way there, people pointed and laughed at us.  We found it pretty hilarious too.

And when we finally got there, guess what?  Most Indian men were dressed in shirts and pants.  As if we weren’t standing out enough already!

Henna is drawn on black and then washed off 30 minutes later...it smells like a fake tan...

PS: By the way, the night was fun and it was fun wearing the traditional Indian clothing.  The girls got henna done on their hands.  For entertainment they got this guy (who is apparently THE man on Indian Idol to perform and also bring along his group of pupils to sing for us).  They even dedicated a song to us.  He said we didn’t need to know what the lyrics meant — we could feel it through his emotions.  I dunno, maybe I was interpreting it the wrong way, but for some reason he had a very pained expression on his face all throughout the song…