Tuesday, December 28, 2010

20 Minutes in a Bangle Shop

As a gift to our wedding guests who traveled around the world my mother in-law bought traditional Indian wedding outfits for everyone to wear to the events.  Now in Indian nothing is off the rack, you go to the store and the salesman waits on you individually and brings out the fabric in the colors  you desire as you sip on a cold coffee or a Fanta.  Then after you make your selection the tailor takes your measurements and custom makes your outfit. Due to our late arrival the tailor is going to have to measure and make all of the outfits in less than 24 hours (taking sweat shops to a whole new level).

My mother in-law bought all the fabric in advance and the girls just had to choose their colors but this is very important because no Indian celebration outfit can be wore without bangles.  As everyone selected which colors they wanted (with very little bloodshed) Sankat had promised all the ladies they would get to go pick out and buy their own bangles to match, but since we were so far behind schedule I had to hurry off to the salon, Sankat had the pleasure of escorting 15 American women to the bangle shop.

Now for those of you who have never been to an Indian bangle shop or even know what a bangle is here's a brief Bangle 101.  Bangles are bracelets that are worn around your wrists, they are worn about 5-10 on each wrist.  They must be sparkly and coordinate with the colors in your outfit.  When you dance they knock together and make a pleasing sound.  Now in Indian or at least in Ahmadabad only men work in the shops.  The men in the bangle shops have long nails (much like a coke dealer) that are used to quickly move the bangles (another addiction) to put them onto metal rods in various color combos that are amazing and cost 1 million rupees:)  

Picture this 15 women in an Ahmadabad bangle shop the size of a large closet with two men behind the counter and Sankat's cousin's wife (Bhabhi) to translate.   So the translation occurs like this Girls tell Sankat (English), Sankat tells  Bhabhi (Gujarati), Bhabhi tells bangle guys (Gujarati).  Now you can imagine what gets lost in translation. . . and there's 20 minutes to make this happen.

There's nothing more shrew than a Bhabhi and Sankat in a bangle shop trying to haggle a deal with the bangle salesman.  "We buy all these bangles, see so many women, but you give us half free, ok."

My Bhabhi is a hero because she managed to get all of our friends (and their friends back in the States) outfitted in bangles, Sankat got a little taste of what it means to be an Indian woman, and the bangle shop guys will be able to buy that plasma TV they wanted!!!!

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