Thursday, May 26, 2011


I'm used to getting stared at when I travel to faraway places, and true to form, in Srinagar I sometimes feel like the alien in the market, mostly because the clothes we commissioned to our tailor have yet to be completed. While my western jean-wearing ways make me feel like a tween, my misunderstood sense of fashion has spilled over into my Kashmiri wardrobe. My grandma chic has (d)evolved into simply grandma. I can only hope that my tendency to wear age-inappropriate clothes will not lead to a profound loss of dignity at an old age, trying to squeeze my way into something magenta.

We have had the same tailor ever since I was a little fat kid, despite his many flaws. I won't name names, but two sleeves of noticeably different lengths is not okay unless it was during my asymmetrical phase, when people would go out of the way to tell me they didn't like my outfit. Despite his lack of skills, his small business evolved into what is now known as Fancy Tailors. My family insists on remaining loyal, and my mother reminds me that "we're the ones who made him fancy."

As an honorary foreigner, it only makes sense that I am treated as a foreign object stuck in a small space where I do not belong. My only defense for not learning Kashmiri is that Arabic is the language most beloved to Allah and I decided to learn that instead. So far it works.
The last person we interviewed claimed that the reason I would never learn Kashmiri was because I was wearing jeans. Maybe he is right. But it makes me appreciate Morocco even more and the gift it gave me, to be able to enter a foreign place and make it familiar. For now I will start with a small space, learn the streetnames and the schedules of public transportation. The beginnings of belonging to a city.

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