Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Men Can Be Sparkly Too!

When I was new to India I suffered from sensory overload on a daily basis. Is it any wonder that men's fashion took a while to get through the visual clutter? Forget about the fact that I had a whole new country and it's culture to take in. Women's fashion alone was enough to eclipse the men for months. I mean, think for a minute what they are competing with. The women here wear the brightest, most vivid colors imaginable on a daily basis and top it off with stunning jewelry on every visible part of their body. Seriously, fingers, toes, wrists, ankles, noses, foreheads and even eyebrows. Think I am exaggerating? Consider the wedding photo of Mr. Smiths Indian sister.

Who is going to notice any man in the vicinity? Now it is true that these are only worn all together on weddings days, but I see them individually everyday. Maybe not the chandelier bracelets, but the rest of it for sure. Eventually, though, the gorgeous attire of the women became familiar and other things made their way in. At first I noticed the things you would expect to see.

Turbans, Dhotis, Kurta Pyjamas and Curly Toed Shoes

Then Winter rolled around again and for the first time I noticed The Sweater. Any American who has spent a winter here knows just which sweater I am talking about. I have heard it referred to as fuzzy, furry, grassy and sparkly, but they all mean the same sweater. I give you India's version Winter Wear.

Note Mr Smith's attention to detail in providing us with a close up so that you can fully appreciate the Easter Grass nature of the sweaters.

In the beginning I mistakenly believed that some unfortunate man was cold and only had his wife's sweater to use. Then I saw another...and another...and another! I soon realized that these bright sparkly sweater vests were meant for men. Any man showing up to work sporting one of these babies in the US would be in for years of ridicule (just ask Mr Smith about the time he lost a bet and had to wear a dress to work) and any young boy in a US school would become the prettiest punching bag on campus. Here, however, they are so common that I sent Mr. Smith to work with instructions to get a picture of a fuzzy sweater and he sent me four to choose from almost immediately.

As you can see, a variety of colors are available and, trust me when I tell you, this is just the tip of the sweater iceberg. After a little questioning the young man in the middle admitted that he had in fact bought his sweater in the women's section of the store. What was the give away? Not the pink color, that is one of the most popular colors. No, it was the long sleeves that gave his secret away. Despite their liberal views on color and sparkles, in India, real men wear sweater vests!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Look What Santa Brought

On Christmas Eve a package was delivered to our home. The package was very tiny, very sweet and had four very short legs. The first Christmas gift of the year was a black and tan Dachshund. A sweet little girl that we named Shanti Pria. She was instantly loved and spoiled by seven children. Luckily, in the weeks following her arrival, that love has not diminished. Shanti is also very smart, hence, her training is going very well. So far she has mastered the art of paper training (for the most part), come (when a treat is involved) and sit (if you happen to yell "sit" just as she is sitting). Once in a while I can even get her to play dead. The real trick is not to say it loud enough to wake her up. Her best trick by far though, is her ability to find someone willing to hold her on their lap. She can find a willing lap any time, any where. It is a very useful skill and we are all very proud.

If only the rest of the Christmas arrivals had been as cute. Just after Christmas Mr. Smith noticed that Star On Stage was scratching her head often and with gusto. Mr. Smith suggested washing her hair, thinking that perhaps an excess of dirt and oil on the scalp was the culprit. However, a clean head did not stop the scratching. Reluctantly I called Star On Stage over and looked through her hair. know what is coming. You're probably scratching your head right now.

Is it on me? It feels like it's on me!

Star On Stage had lice. Of course this announcement sent the family into chaos. Number One Son grabbed Dennis The Menace and off they went to the barber. Their thinking? You can't get lice if you have no hair. I have no idea if that is true, but either way, 30 minutes later the young men in our family returned home with no hair. The girls scratched a lot and tried to count how many times in the last few weeks they had come into direct contact with Star On Stage's head, pillow, brush, play wigs, hats or scarves. For the next several hours we researched methods of de-lousing, ripped off bedding for washing and started the long process of louse hunting. The first night we found an even 50. All on one head. Everyone take a moment to get over your heebie-jeebies...ok, let's continue.

Poor Star On Stage suddenly became persona non grata as far as all of her siblings were concerned. You can't blame them, really. It is hard to hug someone good night that just had 50 bugs crawling around her head. Not to worry, ever the caring parent, I sat down with her and explained that they were just afraid that they too might end up with lice. She admitted that she would have felt the same way had it been another child with lice. Then, in a final show of solidarity, I bit the bullet and hugged my mega infested child. Then I scratched my head...

Over the course of the next few weeks the lice count dropped, more hair was cut, other kids were checked, re-checked and cleared. Finally, the lice count was zero...except on my head. Yes, I had a creepy crawly resident on my scalp. Fortunately, the level of paranoia that existed in our house lead to an early detection and a quick eradication of my unwanted guests.

Mr. Smith will no doubt be pleased to see that I have finally come out of my low tech hermit cave and have once again joined the cyber-world. However, he has already decided that one post will not be enough to make amends for my neglect. He has, therefore, decreed that two posts are required this week by way of penance. Later this week...Men's Fashion.