You know how sometimes when you’re stressed out about something, you don’t realize it until the thing is gone and you feel the hidden weight get lifted? Apparently, school stressed me out. I know that I have to get back to work next week, but for now, I’m going to enjoy a little freedom.
This weekend, Ruth and I went on a little shopping trip to get me some Indian clothes! I love the clothes here. Everything is so bright and fun! I don’t think I’ve talked about clothes yet, so let’s do that now.
Some of the clothing styles vary across the country, so I can only speak for the things that I’ve seen here. I’m also going to simplify this A LOT, but there are a few different styles that are most common so we’ll focus on those. Let’s talk about women first. In daily life, you can find plenty of women (mostly younger women and girls) in Western clothes, usually jeans and modest tops. For Indian clothes, I’m going to simplify it down to two categories: kurtas and saris. Saris are probably what you picture when you think of Indian clothes. Generally, these are more formal, but I don’t think it really matters. Older women especially will wear them all the time, though I assume you would save your sparkly and fancy ones for a special occasion.
One thing that varies based on where you are in the country is how you drape your sari. You have a blouse (often a crop-top length) on underneath and a petticoat, and then a long rectangle of fabric. I asked someone to explain the wrap/drape process for me, and she said that you wrap it around your waist, pleat it 7 times and secure it, then wrap and drape it back over your shoulder, pleating it 7 times again. So, there’s an example of one of the million ways you could drape your sari. Simple, right?
The type of dress that I see women wear most often is a kurta. They’re about knee length or a little shorter, and it’s like a loose-fitting dress with slits up the sides to around your upper thigh. Underneath, you wear pants. There are tighter leggings that are bunched up at the bottom (churidar) or loose genie-type pants (salwar). Most women also wear a scarf (like a summer weight fashion scarf), and every part of the outfit will be impeccably color coordinated. Beyond this, there are other tunic-style tops and other variations on a kurta, but like I said, I’m super simplifying and just talking about the things I’ve seen the most.
I got a couple kurtas and a pair of leggings, and they’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s hands down the most comfortable clothing I’ve ever worn that’s considered acceptable to wear in public. It feels like you’re wearing a nightgown and some pajama pants, but you actually look nice. Plus, you could run or climb over a wall or be a ninja in them because of the slits in the sides and the stretchiness of the pants. I like to feel like I can move in my clothes. Why is this not a thing everywhere?? I’ve been told that saris aren’t as comfortable (and your mobility is definitely limited), but I haven’t tried one on so I couldn’t say for sure.
For men, the same goes with Western clothes in daily life. A lot of people wear jeans and polo shirts, and for looking a bit nicer, you’ll see normal button-ups and ties. The male teachers at school all wear dress pants, shirt, and tie to work, and the women wear kurtas or saris. On some nicer occasion, they might wear the male version of a kurta which is pretty much the same as the women’s but made for a man’s body shape, and they have similar genie pant or slimmerpant options to wear underneath. Then, there are tunic-style shorter length shirts and such too. I’ll be honest; men’s clothes aren’t nearly as awesome. Plus, I’m not a man, so I don’t pay as close of attention as I do to the women’s clothes. They do have cool clothes that people wear for formal occasions, but daily life is mostly boring pants and boring shirts that are just like what people wear at home.
Little girls have the BEST clothes. They can wear awesome Disney-princess-costume style dresses, and it’s totally normal here. This also should be a thing everywhere. They’re all so fun and shiny and sparkly, and I wish I was 8 years old again so that I could join.
Tonight, I’m packing up my new kurtas because… road trip! Well, technically… train tracks trip! I’m going to Darjeeling with a couple girls from church, Anisha and Neha. It’s a city in the mountains and is supposed to have some amazing scenery. More importantly, I heard you can see snow leopards there!! They’re my favorite animal. And when I say favorite, I mean like SUPER favorite. I love them. A lot. So yeah, I’m VERY excited for scenery and travelling and most of all, for my true love, snow leopards.