After a tumultuous journey from Boston to Purulia including 3 re-routed itineraries, two missed flights, luggage which took a short holiday in Amsterdam and a 6 hour train ride to round things off, I groggily arrived in Dabar village (pronounced Daboor) around midnight on January 4th after 68 hours of travel.
The following night I was taken into Purulia town by Shanta and Chaina to buy a few new clothes. Oh, and a new iphone. No, I hadn’t lost mine – I had brought a beater phone (very archaic with the option for Arabic script on the keys, purchased in Jordan circa 2013) and I’d intended to get a sim card for that and reserve my regular iPhone for use over the internet when available. Silly me, Shanta, Chaina, Tinku, Robert, and Rekha all have iPhones and even the hostel kids know how to use them. So the deal was they would buy me a phone as an excuse for one of them to have a new one after I leave at the end of April. So that was settled.
Shopping for clothes was an experience. Knowing only a couple words of Bengali, none of which were immediately useful, I have been playing the role of an obedient foreigner since arriving: Sitting, following and eating when told. That night was no exception. Following the lead of Shanta and Chaina we entered the shop, took off our shoes at the door and sat down on the floor. Beneath the display clothing lining the walls were trash bags full of clothes, all new and neatly folded. Two men were the shopkeepers and after Shanta explained what we were looking for the first man began laying options out in front of us. One tunic was laid on top of the other and I eventually found that if I liked something I needed to speak up; if I kept quiet while new clothes appeared at a rate of one tunic every three seconds I was soon found with a tall stack of clothes and no idea of what to do with them.
After the first stack materialized and the shopkeeper wasn’t noticing my interest in any of them (I did like some), the other shopkeeper began laying his out in the same manner. I focused my attention on the new ones, and when I turned to pull out one from the other pile the whole heap had disappeared, each tunic already folded and stowed back in the large plastic bag.
With much help from Shanta and Chaina and many trips to the dressing room I wound up with three tunics. There are two good ones, and one that was settled for after we’d taken a very long time looking. I have never been talented at dressing myself, so it will be interesting to see how I work that one into the wardrobe. Additionally there are two pairs of leggings and one pair of baggy pants which look absurd alone: They’re one size fits all (giants included). However they look good under a tunic, are great fun to wear, and I’m grateful for that selection. Two scarves were added at the end. Each article was then individually packaged in plastic then handed off to us in a reusable bag, and off we went.
The luggage was retrieved a few days later but I’m happy to now have some local clothes, especially for trips to more remote villages.