"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

Shopping For Saris


Next Wednesday is Dalila’s birthday.

Yesterday Anu and I went across to the mainland, ostensibly to buy fabrics to re-cover the diwan and dining room chairs.

In reality, Dalila’s birthday pressed heavily on our minds. We were acutely aware of past inadequacies and humiliations.

With skilled help, Anu and I both felt the only way was up.



Kalyan Silks sells the best textiles in Cochin and has two floors devoted to saris.


But I had failed to think it through:  Two floors devoted to saris.

We were totally overwhelmed.


Beautiful, elegant and amused, female shop assistants ask if they can help.

– Who are we buying for? A bride?-

– No. Our wonderful cook –

– How old is she? –

Anu is flummoxed. But I have many years of professional training behind me and flatter myself into thinking I’m a shrewd judge of age.

(I also know the age of her sons.)

I hazard an expert opinion.

We are led to countless rows of saris, deemed suitable for Dalila. As an act of charity, a male shop assistant is summoned to help us out.

I choose a sari for Dalila. Anu chooses his gift.

We are almost finished but I know that every sari has a dedicated choli.

The material fortunately includes its matching length for a top.

– You want a blouse lining? –


– This material is see through –

Yes. We need a blouse lining.

– You want a skirt lining? –



Trust me:

After this, choosing soft furnishings is a doddle.



Photographs taken by me in Kalyan Silks. Art work taken, without permission, from the Kalyan Silks website

3 responses

  1. I hope we will see Dalila modelling her birthday present. You can hold the mirror, don’t even think of being the seat.

    January 7, 2011 at 8:33 pm

  2. how fortunate that you didn’t have to choose shoes to complete the outfit …

    January 8, 2011 at 1:46 am

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