For the most part, I really love India. You meet all kinds of wonderful people, in the
course of your comings and goings. Take my outing in search of "house dresses"
with my Indian "sister". I rent a room from Rosy and her husband, Norman, the
parents of Edsel and Danny Toscano, former Royal Caribbean crew friends. It
is really nice for me, in Mumbai, a city of over ten million, to be with people who
are like family.
So, off we go to her favorite spot at Elco Arcade Shopping Center to get "house
dresses" for me, during a momentary lull in the monsoon rains. Playing "dodge
'em cars" in our rickshaw, we arrive, amazingly, safe and sound. On the first floor,
we pass shop after shop of caftans, saris, kurtas, and all the assorted Indian
ladies clothing, all looking basically the same. If I stop to admire, Rosy calls me
to keep going, "It's just ahead."
"Just ahead" is a tiny little shop that can only accommodate a few shoppers,
especially after I have entered. It is chock full of brightly colored cotton prints of
every hue, short and long lengths, dazzling to me. I explain to both the young
man and the older man in attendance what I want to see ( "everything" ), probably
in an extra large.
The young man, who, I later learn, is Hitesh Narsinghani, gains my undying affection
when he tells me, "No, you won't take an extra large, only a large." I remember when,
in 1997, during my first India trip, being told, during a shopping expedition to
Bandra, "sorry, madam, your dresses will be four hundred rupees because you
are a jumbo." He tells me to try on one of the dresses over my clothes and, lo and
behold, he's right, a large fits.
I tell Hitesh and his uncle, I believe it was, that I want both long and short house
dresses and out they bring at least two dozen folded choices in assorted colors.
Hitesh takes the first, shakes it open and holds it up so I can see it full length. I love
it. He then starts for the second one. I tell him to stop, not to bother unfolding them
all, I can tell what I like with them folded. Oh, no, like a showman, he insists, saying
I have to see them opened up and it is no bother to refold them.
I ended up buying three long dresses and three short ones and I told Hitesh I would
probably come back for a couple more before I head home in November. One
black floral one that I loved was out of stock but he is sure they will get another
shipment from Jaipur. I told him they all reminded me of muu muus. He had no
idea what I meant but I can just see myself in Hawaii wearing these and, for $35,
I could never get six muu muus at Hilo Hatties.
When I asked Rosy how she had settled on this one store out of all at the
shopping mall, she told me because of the quality of the dresses, the durability
of the cotton and the colors and the good stitching which was not consistent
everywhere. Also, the price was excellent, even better than what you would get
in Jaipur where the dresses are made!
I'll enjoy wearing these, I'm sure, long after I stop coming to India. After all, I will
celebrate my 70th birthday here in October and I wonder how long I can keep
traveling. Oh, well, as Scarlett said, "I'll think about that tomorrow" ... a lot of
tomorrows in the future.
Amber Textiles is located at 15, Elco Arcade Shopping Centre, Hill Road, Bandra
West, Mumbai - 400 050, India, Phone: 2640 6303, 2642 2606.
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