Friday, 20 August 2010

Shopping for that Saree.

My experimental shopping on the internet is coming to its end, now that I appreciate what money I do have, I do not wish to waste it on something that looks heaven on earth on a supper skinny Asian beauty on the photograph but when it turns up on my door its nothing like the picture. Details missing, the blouse a totally different design and colour, the whole thing being poorly put together and badly stitched. I can’t be too angry, I brought the easy way, plus it’s always in the back of my mind. How old was the person that made this, how much did they get paid and what conditions do they have to live and work in? But then, if business were not put their way, what on earth would they be doing instead. School of course, or adult learning some hippy tells me, yes, that’s good, but who pays for it?

Its getting a high profile debate child workers, like with any argument there are two sides, and with this issue I think the world is sat on the fence. I do my bit; I have plans to raise some money for Pratham Books in November, if all goes well possibly two thousand pounds. A lot of money for me but for the Charity, nothing that won’t fix anything over night. Every little helps I guess. It may make me feel better about ordering off the Internet, but for how long?
Recent excursions to London around the Wembley area are becoming more frequent and I can often be found with my nose pressed up against the window dribbling with the shear beauty of some of the shops. The amount of choice in some of these shops is overwhelming. Suddenly what you have spent the best part of 10 years of looking at on the internet wishing you could try on is in front of you and you are forced to make a choice, what one do you buy!!

I went to London with the rose tinted specks on. I had a whole day planned out to visit Ealing road spend the day walking down it browsing through the shops wondering aimlessly around, pop in and see that temple, have lunch in one of the many vegetarian restaurants there and come home with something amazing from one of the many saree shops. As a precaution I left with cash. If I took a card, it could have been dangerous

Sadly my day went nothing like that.

There is a different shopping culture to be found here that I have not found anywhere else. When I shop I like to be left alone, the friendly question “do you need any help” from customer services is obituary for today’s customer care policies, but is always dismissed as I am more than capable of seeing for my self what are socks and what are corn flakes. I do tend to avoid the smaller shops, they are for me, very intimidating, before you go in you already know that you are the only customer in at that time. And the question will be defiantly asked, with maybe, “are you looking for anything in particular?” then if your admiring anything, “That colour looks fantastic on you” when you know dam well it doesn’t, Its in the sale rack because its is gaudy and disgusting and I’m only picking it up to see who had the guts to put their name on it! Shops like Ryman stationeries I used to avoid also, to be greeted with a shopping basket shoved in your arms put me off instantly

With the larger shops on Ealing road I saw that you did need assistance. The sarees were behind counters or stacked in high selves in a rainbow of colour. The Smaller shops they were displayed on hangers and accessible, but then I had my small shop dilemma. When you shop for a saree, you can not go in and hope you find something, you are asked what special occasion is it for, “have you been invited to a wedding” No in-fact I just want to buy another one to wear behind closed doors because I love them.

“What colour?” I don’t know, there’s so many here, I was hoping to find one that worked for me.
At this time the mood changed and I’m sure I was tagged as a time waster, being alone, white and not too sure what I wanted and for no particular reason I am not surprised. In one particular large shop I was overwhelmed by choice, all I knew is that I wanted a silk Saree, with out too much bling and traditional. Before I knew it I had twenty around me and none that I really really wanted. I thought silk being opaque would be the exact thing I needed to keep my previously mentioned not so best friend (gut) covered .As I stood there looking in the mirror with a expensive saree haphazardly draped around me it didn’t look so good. Thick and bold, and too much of one colour. I tried all sorts of colours, sadly orange is out as well as pink, white as well, I was left with some greens and blues and learnt that this particular shop needed Bling on every inch of every sari for them to be able to stock it. Being fair skinned with a big blotchy red face has limited me to dark colours but the shop assistant who insisted on helping me did not really help at all. They were rude, blunt and were more occupied watching the real customers who were there for their weddings and parties and offering them drinks. I was most upset. Was I a timewaster? Yes because I did not buy anything from this shop. But it could have been very different if they hadn’t of been so rude and maybe a bit more helpful.

This incident made me want to cry, why? What happened in there, what did I do wrong to warrant so much hostility? I look for the obvious reason. I am white, and should not be in a Saree. Regardless of how much I love them or how much money I was willing to pay to own another.

I did not find the Temple, I was later to find out that it was still being built at this time

One good thing, the food was fantastic

The second trip I came armed with my Boyfriend and the same particular big shop I had the same sort of reception in there, still too much bing, too much choice and not a lot of help. I sort shelter in a smaller shop after forcing my self to go in, I was going to buy something. Initially I felt like the proprietor had pigeon holed me as a time waster, she scoffed at my budget showed me where the sale rack was! Tears brimmed in my eyes; this clearly was not to be. She showed me a bright aqua saree really not my thing. Was she was being very blunt, rude and obnoxious? She asked me if I liked it
“No. I don’t”

And I continued to look for my self. After I found the Organza saree, she warmed up to me maybe because she could smell a sale, or maybe because she could see that I did have some taste. (I like to think the latter) I guess it is odd for any retailer to have someone like me through the door. Someone who doesn’t know what they want for no particular reason, just want to buy one to add to a growing collection and at the same time look great on. Sarees are maybe not really worn every day or for the sake of it any more, always for an occasion and very special occasions, or never.

After a shaky first impression my eyes opened up to the rest of the shop out side of the sale rail. This was a very excusive shop. Where you come to have a saree made for you not just to buy one. There were exclusive designs fit for a Bollywood première, or any première for that matter, Indo-western dresses and designs in the making for the lucky Sri-Lankan bride to be. She showed me a folder of all her work, all of it beautiful. If I was, or what I should be saying, when I get married, this will be my first stop for my wedding dress. I let her talk about how to wear a saree where to pin it, sadly I did not learn anything new but let her continue all the same before purchasing the Black and mustard yellow Organza beauty. Plain, simple, no bling, comfortable for everyday wear and smart enough for a formal do all at the same time.

I am to return to Wembley this weekend this time for a purchase that is necessary, I need a Lengha Choli as I have been invited to a dance to celebrate Nivratri in October. I’m not as keen on lenghas as I am sarees but now I have a purpose rather than a for sake of it purchase. I hope not be looked upon as a time waster. However, I will be still at a loss on what colour, style, work and the rest.

Boyfriend is excited because he gets to go back and have some more fantastic food and buy a tawa pan and look in the food shops that stock items that can not be found local to home. He is a very good cook. I’m sure he will use it often.


  1. It is really hard to find every day wear type sarees. I know they exist, because I see grandmothers here wearing them. Even on line I've never been able to find plain, cotton, simple sarees. Everything looks like you would have to be going to have tea with the president to wear it!

  2. Hi I am suprised that shopkeepers can be so rude to customers.Well I hope some day you visit India and buy as many saris as you want.

  3. For simple cotton sarees visit www,

  4. Have you ever considered just purchasing fabric and then finding a tailor close to you to make the blouse and pettie coat?

  5. Your experiences in the shops sounds similar to some experiences I have had in India when shopping for sarees or suits. Finding sarees that don't have bling all over them is difficult for me as well. The shopkeepers can't seem to understand that I am not looking for sequins, mirrors, and gems all over my garments. As for the rudeness... not to defend them, but they probably do not realize they are being rude. I've noticed most of the shopkeepers here in India appear rude compared to normal standards (at least in the United States). Hopefully you will be successful in finding your lengha and enjoy your shopping experience this time!

  6. I did get the perfect Lengha that day, as I went out with a purpose and an occasion to wear it for I guess I did not take things so personally! Its base colour is a not so traditional black with red, green and gold trims, its fantastic and I can’t wait until Nivratri to wear it!

  7. Hi Shwetika =)

    Lovely name by the way. I'm a frequent visitor to Aamba's blog and chanced upon yours. With sarees, there are many different kinds. The sequins, shiny bling bling stuff are mainly what many punjabis wear. South Indian sarees are a little bit more subtle to say the least. Perhaps when you go to the store next time, ask them to show you some Mysore silks, Kanchivaram sarees, art or raw silk sarees. These have less shiny stuff to them - most of them hardly any and are mighty comfy to wear.

    You look beautiful in the saree by the way so wear them often =)


  8. Many thanks for the advice, I feel another shopping trip coming on!

  9. How's the boyfriend getting on with his tawa pan?

    Take him back shopping and then get him to try cooking some authentic Indian food.