I now own my first sari. I bought it at Lakshmi Bazaar, in Koti. It’s a ridiculously cheap sari in synthetic chiffon, but I couldn’t see the value in paying a lot of money for something I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to wear.
So this one I’m treating kind of like a test. If I can keep it on, manage it gracefully, etc. in the privacy of my hostel room (and maybe on the visiting faculty verandah), then I’ll invest in something a little nicer. If not, it was Rs 200 including ghagra and choli, and every firengi who goes to India comes back with a sari, right?
It’s pink. I have five blue salwars, now, but one pink sari.
After all, I promised Vikram Seth that the first sari I bought in India would be pink.
Here’s the story: after I finished reading Suitable Boy I wrote Vikram Seth a fan letter. It’s the only fan letter I’ve ever written in my life. (I wrote Stephen Sondheim, once, but that was to ask for an internship. He sent a sweet personal note in return, declining.) I knew it was awfully silly to write a fan letter to an author who rarely interacted with his readers, and I didn’t expect a response, and I don’t even know if he ever got it (sent it via his publisher). But in it I wrote that… well, I’ll just reproduce it for you.
And so I wanted to write you, because one can’t write Mr. Pasternak or Ms. Austen or Mr. Shakespeare, even though sometimes we wish we could, and because I wanted to tell you that I am going to India for the first time this August, to study and direct a play in Hyderabad, and that my first sari, when I get one, will be a pink sari, as a subtle but definite expression of thanks. I’ve done things in honor of books I’ve loved before (I named my first cat Dinah) but I have never had the privilege of being able to tell the author.
Yeah, I know. (And it’s pink because Lata was always described wearing pink saris, except for the blue one she wore at the railway station, the blue one Meenakshi loaned her, and the one which Haresh could not tell was blue or green.)
And I wrote that letter a long time ago, but I still kept my promise. I always keep the promises I make to literary figures, even if they never knew I made them. ^__^