Edit Blog Post
Published: February 24th 2014
Let me start off with a quick lesson on Bangladesh. There are six seasons in Bangladesh (summer, monsoon, autumn, late autumn, winter and spring), and the best times of the year are winter and spring. When we came in January, it was winter and the temperature was about 20-25 degrees during the day and 15-20 degrees at night – though the nights for some reason felt much colder.
The winter season is when Bangladesh is most nice. It’s when people can enjoy the sun without dying of a heatstroke and wear clothes that don’t become drenched in sweat within minutes. Winter is therefore also the season when most Bangladeshis get married, hence the nickname the wedding season. I must admit, I found the mornings and evenings to be a little too chilly compared to my expectations but other than that the weather was really nice.
On February 13, however, it was the first day of spring, a day also known in Bangladesh as Pohela Falgun. In celebration of this day people wear yellow, orange, and some people red to welcome the beginning of spring season.
Rikke and I therefore thought it would be nice to wear a sari
for this special occasion, and that’s how we get back to the main story.
Having made up our mind to buy saris, we called our friend and colleague Asif, who had promised to invite one of his girlfriends along to help us. This meant we had all we needed: a Bangladeshi girl to help us with fashion advices, a Bangladeshi man to give us a male perspective on the saris, and a car + driver to get us to the mall. The problem: it was the day before Pohela Falgun and it was already 6.30 pm – the malls close at 8.
People who know me also know that I am not a big fan of shopping for me. I don’t mind getting pulled around to browse or buy stuff for someone else, but having to put in the effort to find something I like… my enthusiasm is rarely tangible. Not this time, though, as we only had an hour and a half to find two saris and our fashion guru (Farwah) was an experienced shopper. This meant we practically ran from shop to shop, story to story as if our lives depended on it.
Showing off a sari
Farwah in the foreground
As people also know, I love red, and I love black, and I especially love the combination. So the choice was pretty easy, and Farwah was effective.
In the shop:
Farwah: “Do you have a sari in red (lahl in Bangla)?”
If no, we moved on.
If yes: “Katrine, what do you think?”
If I didn't like it, we moved on.
If I liked it, I tried it on.
To be honest, there was only one of the many saris that I liked and tried on, and that was also the one I bought. Why can’t shopping always be easy like that?
So Rikke got a yellow sari, I got a red one, and we managed to buy the cloth that was going to be made into our tops right when the clock hit 8. We were literally headed for the exit when the whole mall turned off the lights.
It was now time to have the tops tailor-made. Farwah led the way as we drove outside of Gulshan to a smaller area with a local tailor that she has used many times before. We arrived at 9.00 pm
and were quickly told off by the tailor and his young coworkers, who had been working for two days straight to finish everyone’s Pohela Falgun clothes. Farwah and the tailor engaged in a heated conversation for a few minutes before she turned to us and said something like:
“I’m sorry, girls, he wants 750 taka per person instead of the usual 500 to tailor the cloth into three tops tonight.”
I was taken back, and am still amazed. 750 taka is a little over 50 DKK! This poor man had been working for two days without sleep but would tailor our tops at 9 pm the night before Pohela Falgun for a mere 20 DKK more. That’s alright, Farwah, you won’t hear me and Rikke complaining! I did feel bad for him, though, but not enough to pay him more as Farwah seemed rather annoyed that he had the audacity to charge more.
The tailor informed us that it would be a couple of hours and after taking our measurements, it was time to get some food. Rikke and I were on the edge of starvation.
Asif and Farwah took us to a local restaurant
so that we could have bangla food, which is very delicious, and Rikke and I wanted a reason to eat with our hands (only the right one!) since we both enjoy the experience. I will dedicate a whole blog entry to bangla food.
At 11 pm, we were back at the tailor’s for a final fitting. My top was too tight around the waist and Rikke’s didn’t fit around her arms so it took a few adjustments. But the tops looked great and it felt weird to have a piece of clothes that was made specifically for you. I definitely need more tailored clothes.
We also managed to visit Farwah’s mother, who was extremely friendly and gave us food to bring home.
It was 12.30 am before Rikke and I got back home, but what an experience! The best part was the reactions we got from the locals at the Embassy and on the streets when we walked to work in our saris. Showing respect for Bangladeshi customs and traditions will earn you more respect in return than I think it should, seeing as I believe that every visitor to a foreign country ought to make an
effort to respect the country and its people. But it was still a great feeling to know that they were impressed with our effort, even if one of our female colleagues at Embassy had to adjust our saris a bit. That’s what you get for putting on a sari in the morning using a YouTube video!
As I am in charge of the Embassy's Facebook page, I posted an introduction of us, the four new interns, along with a picture (see below) in which Rikke and I wear our saris. What a hit! The post has been shared 60 times, liked by over 4500 people and seen by a staggering 66000+ people! The only thing that could have made it more popular was if the guys had worn something local as well.
Besides the saris, we also made a deal with Farwah that she would help us buy a salwar kameez if we helped her by modeling on her website – turns out she designs saris and salwar kameezes. Funny how Bangladeshis would rather use white models than locals, surely I am nowhere near as pretty as a Bangladeshi model. Based on this experience, I am excited for
our salwar kameez adventure!
Tot: 1.207s; Tpl: 0.075s; cc: 9; qc: 53; dbt: 0.0325s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb