Today is the day – my last day of work a year ago. My last paycheck…that’s a painful thought. But if I think about the trade off of – no money, but world experiences instead – then it’s all worth it.
However, I am working currently (even though I’m paying them to work). The volunteer teaching is certainly a job. I even have to get all dressed up in the proper work outfit every day. At Coach I used to be able to wear jeans, sandals, t –shirts – however my dress code here is very different. No, I am not wearing a sari…thank goodness as I know that I would trip on all of the material, plus no one really needs to see my newly acquired travel belly. Instead, I wear the modern Indian business woman attire – a salwar, kameez, and duppatti – basically ultra baggy trousers and a long tunic with a scarf draped over your chest.
We are required to wear this dress for a few reasons – so that we will fit in and avoid unwanted attention – and it has an added benefit of making us look a bit more professional here. I can’t really say that the outfits are flattering – but what they lack in fit, they gain in comfort. It’s honestly like wearing your pajamas around all day. I could easily fit 3 people into these baggy pants. There are normally about 20 pleats on the pants gathering all of the material, and a simple draw string waist. They could easily double as maternity pants. In fact – I doubt that Indian women need to buy maternity clothes as they can simply keep wearing their salwar up until the time they give birth! The kameez is a long tunic blouse that goes past your knees. However – don’t think that you can wear it as a dress, because there are two slits up the side that would be rather revealing without the salwar! Then there’s the duppatti that is supposed to be draped around your neck so that it hides your chest and the ends drape down your back. This scarf takes some time to get used to…and I believe that it takes more than 4 weeks as I’m still not used to it! It’s like an extra appendage that you have to get used to….it’s always in your way. I’m constantly letting it drag on the ground, shutting it in the car doors, getting it caught on things, fiddling with it so that it doesn’t choke me…I have not yet become ‘one’ with the duppatti!
Photo: Local women learning how to make jewelry…it’s a rainbow of colors!
The other trait of the salwar and kameez is that is has to be colorful! The more color the better. Bright pink, purple, greens – it’s as if a rainbow exploded over India. I think that the bright colors of fabric help you get noticed as you cross the street – yet it doesn’t make people stop or slow down at all – it just makes you a colorful moving target. I’m not sure if I will keep any of my new Indian outfits or not – as I don’t intend to be pregnant anytime soon. However, I will probably keep one for the simple reminder of my colorful time here.