A travel moment in Pune

A still fairly traumatic travel moment was experienced when shopping in the city of Pune, India; in what will now be remembered as the trial of trying on... I wanted to buy a long traditional shirt (a kurta) that would make me blend in more when working with the local schools and would be just generally more practical to wear in the heat. Usually entering alley-ways adorned by reams of brightly coloured clothing creates a sense of excitement akin to stumbling upon an actual treasure trove of bejeweled wonder. However, the reality soon hit home when I explored one shop's wares. It started off fine. I explained that I was just looking for something plain and they quickly brought out various plain shades of blue kurtas- they look huge I thought and must have said so out loud as the lady sewing golden sequins onto another top assured me that they could tailor it to fit me. As it turned out- there was no
need! The problem soon became evident that the challenge would be to find me anything in their store that would fit. Like an obliging child, I put my arms above my head and tried to wriggle into yet another one of these tops. I soon attracted a growing audience who were looking at me in disbelief as I tried desperately to put my other arm through the tiny hole and ending up stuck, flailing like a tied- up angry lobster. The very kind shop assistant tried to offer me some dignity by holding on to the top that I was wearing underneath so as not to expose my ampleness to the amused crowd and simultaneously helping to prise off the already huge bed sheet she had offered for me to try on; whilst moving her head from side to side and smiling saying: "very good madam."

Clearly she was just being polite- and her perseverance in finding me something to wear was quite astounding. About thirty tops later, looking even more disheveled and flustered, she eventually produced what looked like a king size bed sheet with two apertures which surprisingly went over my head quite easily. She then showed me some trousers that were designed to fit a small elephant, with individual bells running down the back seam. Desperate to extricate myself from this prolonged
humiliation, I quickly paid for these items and thanked the staff profusely. Clutching the bag containing my starched white king size bed sheet and jingly trousers, I scurried out of the shop and headed back towards the anonymity of the bustling streets.

R Rocks-Engelman

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