Friday, April 3, 2009

Little Black Dress--or Maybe Not-So-Little...

You can buy anything in Bangkok, but sometimes the path to the purchase is a trifle circuitous.  Especially if you are not hovering around the age of nineteen, and if your taste runs towards garments that are black, and if you weigh well above ninety pounds. 

One amazing afternoon I did find a dress-- black, simple, and size L--that was four inches shorter than I like my hemlines to be. So yesterday, armed with a phrase book, I took it to have it copied in a longer edition, to a dressmaker on my street who promptly telephoned her daughter to serve as interpreter, which I took as a very encouraging sign of professionalism.

The daughter suggested that I buy the material myself so I would be sure it was what I wanted, rather than have her mother do it, so that launched an excursion to the Sikh section of Phahurat Road, which is a spot I need little excuse to venture off to. 

First lesson learned: Do not go to sari shops in search of black jersey--amid the sequins, silk, chiffon , and glorious colors there is nothing so basic as black. I almost weakened and succumbed to turquoise shot with glittering gilt threads--but obstinacy trumped aesthetics and I persisted. Just as I was wavering towards having a salweer kameez made instead of a Manhattanesque fantasy, there was a friendly, turbanned elderly gentleman who knew exactly what I wanted, had it produced from the nether reaches of his shop, and sold me five meters of jet black  cotton jersey--which is enough fabric to construct a small yurt.

If you are in Bangkok and desperately seeking black, don't hyperventilate in sari shops--go straight to Nai Leck Chai Dee R.O.P. and throw yourself on the mercy of the presiding figure whose name I have most unfortunately forgotten. But I have the address: 380-382 Phahurat Road, in the middle of the block.  And someday I'm going back there for that turquoise and gold fabric for the sari I've always wanted, because--when it comes to fabric-- this is a shop that has it all.

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