Steve was feeling better so we headed to lunch at Barbecue Nation -- Max's favorite restaurant in Hyderabad. We ate lunch, and promptly had to get Steve back to the hotel. A quick assessment suggested that Steve needed rest. Max made him an electrolyte mixture, and with the phone number of the hotel in my hand, and our cellphones, we felt confident we could leave Steve.
We needed to go to Neha's Boutique -- Neha, a designer, has not only a boutique with wonderful designer Indian clothing, but a tailor shop to boot. The goal was to get the blouses for my sari's sown. When we got there, Neha told Devika that one of the two outfits that Neha was sewing for her was done. Devika tried it on -- she looked so beautiful! You see, her grandfather gave Devika a sari, but Devika doesn't wear saris. She brought it to Neha to see what could be done, and Devika had something in mind. Neha actually came up with a better idea -- and the result was a garment that fit Devika like a glove, and was absolutely beautiful!
When it came my time to talk with Neha, she took my measurements. I thought I had to take the actual sari someplace else to have the "fall" sown at the bottom -- it's a kind of hem, but Neha said she'd do it. In addition, she also asked for the petticoats to be brought over as she would make sure they are cut to the right length. This was extremely kind of her, given that the Saris were not purchased in her shop. I will have them both done by Monday evening, in plenty of time to wear the blue one to the Mehendi party. Amazing.
We then headed over to the Center Mall, specifically to go to a store called Max (how convenient -- it's my son's name!) I found two kurtas (long blouses) and a churidar (cotton leggings that bunch at the ankle) for less than $23. Wow! Typically it is worn with a dupatta (a long, wide scarf) which sets off the outfit. Here's a picture I pulled off the internet of a woman in her churidar kurta with her dupatta. It is so comfortable to wear! In addition, it's very flattering to all women's figures. One of the ones I purchased yesterday goes nicely with my new pair of sandals (very colorful) I purchased to wear with my saris.
It was now 5:00 pm so we headed back to see how Steve was doing. Turns out he was a bit better, but was in bed. We decided not to go to Serene Domain where the Saxena's are staying for dinner, and instead stayed here to rest. Devika and Max left us to go over there. We had crackers and yogurt here - that was enough. We were both sad to miss the amazing cooking over at Serene Domain though!
So, you can see that not-too-much happened today. So I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk about some impressions of Hyderabad and India in general.
1. I remembered this from our time here in 2008, but it still surprised me: when you buy something in a shop such as Kalanjali, the person who has shown you what you want to buy at a counter writes up a ticket when you decide what you'd like to buy. They give you a copy of the ticket they wrote up, and they send your item to a front desk. You go to the cashier and pay for the item and the cashier gives you a multiple copied receipt. You then go to the front desk who double checks that you paid for the item(s) that were brought to that desk for you, they keep a copy, give you a copy for your records and staple a copy of the receipt to your bag. As you leave the store, the security guard takes the copy of the receipt that was stapled to your bag off your bag and puts it in a box. Honest. Really. At a department store such as Max that we we went to today, at each casher line there was someone there in addition to the cashier to fold and bag your item(s) for you.
2. The number of people available to help you at ANY store is unbelievable -- so many people to help in so many ways. This is in stark contrast to the US where oftentimes you have to hunt for someone to help you.
3. The number of people driving motorcycles, scooters, auto rickshaws, cars and trucks on the road is daunting. We got around town today in a number of auto rickshaws -- which are open air three wheeled vehicles. I had forgotten how crazy it feels riding in one -- I like it, but I'm always holding my breath a bit -- not only because, as I stated in an earlier blog, lanes on the road are only suggestions here, but because the auto rickshaws buzz in between motorcycles and other cars -- and there's the constant barrage of horn blowing as well. In addition, being in an open air vehicle like that means that you are smelling vehicle exhausts and just the general "smells of the road". While I didn't take a picture of the various auto rickshaws we road in yesterday, I do have this picture of an auto rickshaw I took when we were in Lucknow in 2008. The one in this picture was decorated out by its owner. You sit in the back and hold on!
4. The politeness level of shop owners and staff is warm and kind. I don't speak Hindi or Urdu, but I manage to make myself understood with those that don't speak much English. Many, many people here speak fluent English, so I don't normally have a problem.
I love India, I love the people, the food, the clothing. I'm so happy that Max has found Devika, that this important part of his life (being a Hindi/Urdu scholar) is enriched and informed by their relationship, and that they (and we) will always have strong ties here.
Well, our friend Allan will be arriving tomorrow from London to join the festivities. We'll be heading to the old city -- Char Minar -- to pick up Max's custom made shoes and to do some more shopping. I hope to pick up the table clothes and napkins I need for the Pasadena wedding/reception. I wonder who we'll run into, and what adventures we will have tomorrow in the old city?
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Location:Road No 1, Hyderabad, India