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.