I was getting ready for work today, and with every outfit I must have jewelry to accompany. I knew my ears would be frozen once I got out into the 10-degree weather, so earrings were out of the question. I wasn’t in the mood to wear a necklace so I was left with bracelet choices. I wanted something unique and eye-popping, and I actually knew where to look.
I have a shoebox with bangles I had gotten from my summer trip to India. These are ones that would be hard to find in the US. Especially hand-crafted and fragile, you have to slip them on carefully until they hang on your wrist. I wore them proudly today and to my pleasure it made some heads turn. I basked in the fact that no one else in my office could get their hands on these jewels, and I was happy because it reminded me of the little things India offered me. Besides seeing family there this summer that I hadn’t visited in over nine years, I was lacking in Indian clothing, crafts, and culture.
I found cashmere. No not the one you can buy at every street corner stall in NYC–but the real 100% cashmere…as a shawl to be exact. Handmade, hand-stitched, and warmer then the J. Crew sweater I had at home. It was absolutely beautiful and absolutely authentic. The Pashmina scarves and shawls found in India are so soft that I wanted to buy a thousand and just sleep on them.
Back to jewels. Rubies, pearls, stones, and their color…the jewels in India are unlike any other. A diamond is a diamond, but the jewelry in India is crafted in a way that the color stands out and makes it so unique. Bangles in India are a touristic find. They’re fragile and breakable if not worn carefully but so worth their wear and tear. You can easily find bangles in every clothing and accessory store in India, but I would recommend going to the outdoor markets for great finds. If you’re ever in New Delhi you should stop by Khan Market, Janpath, or the Tibeten Market. The main bazar in Pahargani is a great place to get affordable finds. You’ll have to hone your bargaining skills to get a really good deal, though.
Lastly, before coming home, remember to get Henna. It’s popular in the US but originated in India, which means one thing: The artists will be crazy good. And you basically can’t leave India without it; it’s like a rule. If you’re a girl, that is.
You also don’t know traffic until you’ve been driven around in India. There are barely any stop-lights and rules. Well there are rules, but no one really follows them. It’s whoever beeps before you, so watch your back and go your own way. The easiest way to get around in India is by taking a tuk-tuk. You can’t travel to India and not ride in one. It’s a three-wheeler cab that’s fast, efficient, and one hell of a ride. I kind of wish they had them all over NYC.
And the food. First of all, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES HAVE STREET FOOD. Not because it’s gross but because if you’re a foreigner and not used to it, you won’t be able to handle it. However, India obviously has some of the best authentic restaurants and spices you won’t be able to resist, so try it and enjoy. Some Indian foods that have really changed my life are Gulab Jamun, Tandoori Chicken, and Channa Masala. Make sure to grab a box of Ladoos for your journey home. Ladoo is an Indian dessert and, honestly, I don’t know why it hasn’t put Hershey’s out of business.
By the way, for all you Fashionistas, the clothing is inspiring. The colors, fabrics, trends, and style will change the way you see fashion and design. Be sure to stop by a market and handpick an Indian dress or sari. Give it an hour before you can choose the perfect one because with the diverse assortment of colors, silks, and clothes, it’ll be hard to keep yourself from wanting to buy just about everything in the store.
© Meral Kathwari January 30, 2014