For me, at least. I had also been sent on a mission from Dawn to find some cheap and lovely saris for draping, but I came up with squat. I did, however, discover that Mirage sells fabric by the yard, so I’ve directed her to start there.
So. We started out at Leah’s house, then went to the big Mirage, which I hadn’t been to before. I was completely overwhelmed. It’s about six times the size of the little one I usually go to, and I get overwhelmed at the little one. A very helpful store clerk followed me around, though, and through some trial and error (and one pair of disastrously ill-fitting churidaar) I managed to score a pile of loot that gets me well on the way to some really decent Rajasthani garb. I found:
3 white cotton saris with blue borders (all look to be quite sheer once I wash out the sizing)
1 Rajasthani maang-tikka
1 package lazy-people’s bindi (i.e. the sort you use if you’re not so great making a decently round dot with actual kumkum)
1 pair gigantic earrings with faux rubies and pearls (while not the stretched piercings that would be period-accurate, they pass the 10-foot rule)
1 costume ring to match the above jewelry
This is all great stuff. The maang-tikka (in the link, the gold thing at the woman’s hairline) was the most expensive, at $30, but everything else was less than $15 (per piece). I bought three of the white saris because I need a veil and a patka, and something in me kinda cringes at the thought of cutting up a sari, so one is to keep as a sari and wear as such. I mean, really – if the sari is intended to be worn unstitched, uncut, and unpeirced for various religious reasons, it seems a little wrong to cut it up, but I realize people do this all the time and the saris were cheaper than straight fabric, so I will get over it. They have little bits of blue woven in, but those are hardly noticeable and the pallav will be perfect for the really fancy end of the patka.
The jewelry really is perfect. See?
Okay, so maybe it’s not exact, but it works for a first set. And it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg.
Then there was Ranee’s, which always makes me drool, but is frustrating because it is pricey. I ended up torn between a pair of khussa flats and a pair of kolhapuri sandals. I bought the sandals.
(pardon the crap image quality; the flash on my camera is still kaput)
And then we were all starving so we went to Saravana Bhavan (did I mention there were 11 of us?) and as usually happens, my eyes were considerably larger than my stomach because I got idli and sambhar PLUS a full thali for myself, and then felt sick because I ate too much, which I remedied with delicious chai. I must learn how to make this at home. QuickTea, while similarly delicious, is just not the same thing (plus it leaves sludge at the bottom of the cup if you drink it too slowly). Oh! And grocery store shopping, during which I bought some mint chutney that turned out to be way too salty, and convinced me to just make it myself later.
After stuffing ourselves (I burped sambar all afternoon, but it was so worth it) we cruised on over to KumKum Sari Center. This was the place of my most delightful find of the day, which was this sari:
(detail of the zari work)
Holy. Mother. Of. Steve. I found a cotton handloom sari in Atlanta. And get this – it was $12. Seriously. When I went to purchase it, the shop owner chuckled and said that she’d just put it on the sale rack because nobody wanted it. I was glad to take it off her hands. It’s beautiful and super-sheer, and likely to be very soft once I wash out all the sizing (I attempted to wrap it when I got home, but failed).
We ended our trip with Cherian’s, the giganto Indian supermarket across the street, and kulfi and laddoos at Gokul Sweets down the hill. I recommended sweets to people based on what I like, but failed at predicting their preferences. Oh, well. I liked what I chose.
When we got home I was still very excited and ate my thali leftovers for dinner (this was when I discovered the chutney was salty, as I ate some with a pappadum), and got out all my costuming bits, and came up with this proto-Rajasthani kit (proto-kit not proto-Rajasthani):
Johnny Cat was skeptical:
but he wears neither clothes nor jewelry, so I do not take his opinion very seriously.
I am still missing some necklaces, a tassel for my braid, the pearls for either side of the maang-tikka, a second anklet, armbands, and a way to make the pattern on the ghagra, but this is a good start. I am still wearing the bindi and bangles. I feel pretty.