Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

Indian Fusion Elsa

The girls have been using old blankets and scarves and blue dresses they already own to pretend-play Elsa (and Anna) from Frozen. Then they found out that there are store-bought dresses that are designed to look like the real thing! We were looking on Amazon and many of these dresses are very expensive. Scarves and blankets are fine, but for fun, and a potentially great cultural experience, we decided to try to have one made by a tailor.

So two Saturdays ago found the four of us (Sterling tagged along) in the tailor district of downtown Sharjah, right next to the Heritage Area (old city). I went to the same tailor I used to hem up our curtains a few months ago. It's two Indian guys in a tiny corner shop. They don't really speak English. I don't speak Hindi at all. The girls had brought along a storybook of Frozen they got from Grandma Palmer, and they showed the tailor the marked page that best showed Elsa's dress. Through lots of gestures and telegraphic speech, we asked the tailor if he could make a dress like that. Through more gestures and more telegraphic speech, he told us that he thought he could.

But first! He came with us to the fabric store around the corner. Miriam got to choose the fabrics she wanted for each part of the dress, with the tailor and the fabric store guys conferring to make sure each choice was suitable for its function. At one point, three grown Indian men were poring over the Frozen storybook page, trying to get a better idea of what Elsa's dress was like. It was a funny sight. I did have my camera, but I felt weird about taking a picture, so I didn't. And do you know? - they had never even heard of Frozen! I guess its reach is not infinite after all.

With the fabric picked out and paid for, we headed back around the corner to the tailor's shop to figure out the details of the dress. It was a little ridiculous. Miriam would explain to me what it should be like, and then I would translate that into basic English + hand gestures, and then the tailor would show me with the fabric and a simple drawing how he understood my message. We were all kind of flustered at that point, and I eventually told the tailor to do his best with his imagination. I had a hunch that we weren't quite going to end up with an exact copy of Elsa's dress. It's a cartoon creation, after all, and not meant to exist in real life, at least not in every detail. My hunch was confirmed when, after all the negotiations and explanations, the tailor asked, "what about the pantaloons?" and looked at us expectantly. (Pantaloons are a standard part of female Indian dress - you have the tunic/dress and then the pantaloons underneath. So why wouldn't Elsa's dress have pantaloons underneath, right?)

Yesterday, we picked up the dress. Before we walked into the tailor's shop, I had a talk with the girls and explained that I wasn't sure what the dress would look like. I said it probably wouldn't look exactly like the dress in the movie, but that they still needed to smile and say thank you, because we were grateful for the tailor's efforts even if it wasn't exactly what we wanted.

And I was right - it isn't exactly like Elsa's dress in the movie. But it is beautiful! Miriam and Magdalena are in love with it (Miriam has first wearing privileges since she's the one who the tailor measured).

It's definitely Indian-inspired. Our own little Indian Fusion Elsa.

The total cost ended up being cheaper than the dresses on Amazon (though probably not as cheap as you could find at Costco), but with the added hassle/adventure of doing all the planning/designing/picking out fabric ourselves. I am so happy we got a beautiful dress and a wonderful cultural experience all in one!

April 2014 books

April 25th, outsourced