Friday, 5 June 2015

A Hindu Wedding.

"Should I wear a sari tomorrow?" I ask the boys on Saturday morning. 

Husband and I have been invited to the Hindu wedding of our neighbour's daughter, on Sunday, which is tomorrow. When I saw two friends for a walk in Richmond Park last week and mentioned this - and that I hadn't worked out what I was going to wear yet - they were scandalised. 

"That's leaving it a bit late!" said one. And that was then.

"No," says Youngest. "You can't wear a sari, that would be racist." 

"And you'll look like a try-hard," says Middle One.

"How is it racist?" I say.

No explanation is forthcoming. To be honest the boys say everything is racist nowadays, ultra sensitive to causing offence.

"They are very difficult to put on," my mother adds.

My parents are staying for the weekend, so with my mother's help I root through my wardrobe and sort out a dress, from Whistles, from a few years back. It's silk, colourful, quite modest...

"Perfect," says my mother.

"Perhaps I could dress it up if I get a shawl and some gold jewellery?" I say. Because I'm told gold jewellery is a must at Hindu weddings.

"Yes," says my mother, "and we could take a look in some of the sari shops on the high street while we're at it." She's as keen as I am to take a proper look at some saris.

So later that afternoon, Husband drops us off in deepest Tooting and we head to Primark first, to buy tights, because the forecast is cold for Sunday and I don't want to freeze to death with bare legs.

Primark is a revelation. I haven't been there in years. You can buy two pairs of tights for £2! You can buy earrings for £1! I buy all sorts, bangles and earrings for me, t-shirts for the boys, and the whole lot comes to less than 20 quid. My mother and I are giddy with excitement, and guilt.

"SO cheap!" (Me.)

"Yes, but why?" (Mother.)

"I know!" (Me.)

We both know why. Little children in India slaving over hot needle and thread and sequins, probably. Rather more offensive than a white lady wearing a sari to a Hindu wedding, you might say.

We start the march up Tooting High Road back towards Balham and home, finally making a start on the sari shops, and it's absolutely fantastic to have an excuse to push open the door and actually step into one of those colourful emporiums. Wow. The silks! The sequins! The sparkle! 

I know I could have pushed open any one of those doors at any point over the last twenty years, since we have lived on the edge of Tooting, but I never have because I've never had cause to, and because I've always felt too shy, plus those shops always seem empty, if I walked in on my own I would feel so... conspicuous. 

But now I have a secret weapon: my mother, the ultimate ice-breaker, guaranteed to take the lead and talk to people while I can hover in the background if I want, and even if I don't want.

My eye is immediately drawn to a fabulous sari at the back. £800. £800! No sweatshop involved in the making of that one then, I assume. I hope. Then we look at some salwar kameez, much more reasonably priced, around £30/£40. They have some sequins on them, but not much. 

"Would this be dressy enough to wear to a wedding?" I ask the smiling proprietress.

"Oh no!" she shakes her head, "not for a wedding."

I think of my understated little Whistles number, hanging on the wardrobe door back at home. Oh dear.

In the end we buy a gold trimmed silk shawl, which the shop-owner assures me will dress up my outfit perfectly, and I go to the wedding the next day in the Whistles dress with gold jewellery and the shawl, which my mother fashions to look "Indian".

"What do you think?" I ask the boys, twirling in the kitchen.

"No sari then," says Middle One.

"No," I say, "I'm going Hindu-lite."

"Mummy!" says Youngest, "That's racist!"

I don't have a photo of me but here is the happy couple, with some of the family. And my outfit was fine.

Love E x



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