* Left without camera, sorry our fault.

The small smiling old lady appeared with a cup of fragrant tea. My new BFFs pushed me toward a chair. “Sit! Sit! “Says the elder, responsible for the sale. The English one is much better than mine and make a point of gesturing and talking loudly, to help me understand. I’m the only customer in the vast third floor of an Indian clothing store in East Fort Trivandrum region. I accepted the tea and took the first sip – mixing leaves of Assam, milk, sugar and spices, especially cloves and cardamom. Silence. Twelve girls and women looked at me with fixed smiles.

“Look, it looks like you want me to say something but do not know what …”
“Tea! Is it good? ”
” It’s delicious I could take every day! ”
” In Brazil, do you? ”
” No, just other types of tea, but the Indian is better ”

The group bursts into laughter and applause. As kindness, anxiety to see their valued peculiarities seems characteristic of the Indian. The hospitality is the best, the landscape is the most beautiful, the tea is unique, the films are great and traditions, correct. The tourist should be able to appreciate what’s good. The Brazilian is also little so and the curiosity of a dozen uniformed women in saris brihantes green makes me think of how a group of employees in an empty department store in Centrão of São Paulo would react to an exotic tourist wanting to buy local clothes.

I had already denied twenty different options shalwar kameez , the ubiquitous dress set, baggy pants and shawl worn by women. I complained that everything is expensive. My friends gave laugh together. “Ten thousand rupees! Cheap!”. Ten thousand rupees gives a $ 160, but this is an elaborate clothes: yellow and bright blue, embroidered chest, layered skirt. I want something simple, I explain, to use in day street with light fabric, cheap, easy to wash. And more dresses appear, with all kinds of fabric, pattern and color. Choose a set in shades of green and dark gray, with a discreet application of precious stones on the bar and chest.

I go to the small taster accompanied the group. They want to know where I am, where I am staying, as I arrived. All at once. Spend my hands on my short hair, spiky, dirty, trying to comb. I feel a relaxed foreign, uncomfortable with my baggy old clothes and, with my won deodorant. A white thing, unkempt and strange near those girls brunettes with its elegant work uniforms, long hair combed back, the forehead adorned by small red circles. But for them I am also special. They emit an audible ‘ohhhh’ in chorus when the tattoos appear. “You do not need a dress with sleeves already have green mangoes skin!” Says the young and curious, pointing to my arm and laughing.

This is a popular store , with billboards around the way that my coach did the seaside village of Kovalam to East Fort area. It has five floors, each dedicated to a specialty: ethnic apparel, children’s clothing, fabrics for saris, fabrics for wedding saris, women’s clothing. And make saris, shalwar kameez and other varieties of Indian tailored clothing, what I learned from my first few minutes inside the store – I came from a traditional store, two streets down and carrying a plastic bag with a gaudy sari inside. The eager salesman who met me at the door directly took me to a balcony on the first floor back, where a hard look lady took the bag, opened it and began to stretch the colored cloth – after laughing small package of banana chips I had put together.

Where bought ?, how will I use ?, we need to measure to make a halter top that goes down, we go to the dressing room? I get confused, I risk a lot of explanations in my nervous English and took me to understand: no, that I will take to Brazil so I want to use sets now. The seller and the seller looks, trying to understand. “Ready made?” Laughing at my lack of experience with this complex universe that is the Indian dress, the seller takes me to the elevator. “Third floor! Shalwar kammeez! ”

The elevator door opens and I notice that there is a man standing, sweaty and with a red paint on the forehead. “Where?” He asks. It is the attendent the smallest lift in the world. Rutavi remembered talking to get used to not do anything alone. “Third floor, please.” He presses the button a solemn gesture and here we go.

Amma, tuktuks and the gates of the East Fort (TrivandrumDistrict blog photo)

Amma, tuktuks and the gates of the East Fort (TrivandrumDistrict blog photo)

The experience is totally different from what I had in the previous store, half an hour before, near the  Padmanabhaswamy , the spiritual center of Trivandrum which is closed for non – practicing Hinduism. It was my first rolê outside the resort where the KBE put me, taking the bus line that runs past the hotel at the start point to the end. Nervous through the crowd, walked by around not knowing what to do or where to look: smaller temples, gringo tourists taking photos with iPhones, sadhus bare protected only by a piece of orange cloth, jackfruit sellers squatted on the sidewalks, echoing songs different speakers, street vendors selling the same cheap products found on March 25, the annoying noise of honking buses and tuktuks, men shouting at me things I do not understand – the tourist is undisguised. Half to escape the chaos of the street for five minutes and half to see what he would find, I went into a fabric store.

“Connecting generations since 1935” announces the slogan of Co-Optex. Face, I asked to see a black silk sari with delicate embroidered butterflies in orange and gold. A work of art, even. The seller, drawing that was dealing with a person without the slightest talent for understanding this type of product, and without the slightest patience to be my mentor in the ancient art of her sari, shed information in a mixture of Hindi and English – tissue size, quantity wires, that more? Very expensive, I said. I look for something cheaper. Annoyed, he starts to play the fabric squares on the counter. “Errr, I think I like that purple.” A bunch of purple tissue blocks appear. I ask the price of one that has green details. He explains the application of embroidery at the ends (I did not) and says he can make 20% discount. Trying to imagine myself wrapped in those colors, decide to take. He charges, hands me the package and will give attention to the large group of women who just joined.

You think it's easy to choose?

You think it’s easy to choose?

* PS

I have tried to find Indian music cool bands. I went through bands of indie rock that, like Brazil, they sound as if they were in New York, London, Mumbai or Rio Branco: whatever. Indications are welcome.

But just drop a disk Madlib Californian producer.  Beat Conducta Vl 3 & 4 : In India has cutouts and collages of Indian films 70 over endless hits. It is 2007, the Stones Throw.