My Favorite Tailor in Dhaka

***Update September 2013: Jewel is no longer my favorite tailor but back when I wrote this blog posting, he was (I have since found someone who makes house calls and delivers on a more reliable schedule — I think we may have inundated Jewel with our orders and he fell behind during the Ramadan season). Please see my map of 99 expat places for some of the tailors I now like, plus other postings on tailors. *** My favorite tailor in Dhaka is a man named Jewel (well, it may spelled “Jhul”). He does not speak much but his smile is sweet and he can tailor shirts, dresses, sarees, shalwar kameezes, etc. It’s best to take a sample of what you want or look through his books of necklines for what you want. He usually measures me although now I’ve got a good relationship with him so he knows my style and measurements. He gives you a receipt with snippets of your material taped to it (and he tapes the other snippets in the big book of work orders). One week later, clothes are usually ready. Unless it’s wedding or holiday season. The cost is around 250 Taka ($3) per yard of material and 600 Taka ($8) to make a shirt.

Jhul the tailor with his big book of orders.

Jhul works at Aadita tailor shop in Gulshan One market. The shop is about the size of two king sized beds with a myriad of material stacked neatly from floor to ceiling. The shop owner is also a fine gentleman and he has another shop around the corner called “Fit” where they specialize in menswear and western style business suits.

If you spend a long time choosing “ribbon” (edging), cloth, and patters, the staff boy will run and fetch you sweet cha (chai). The five or six guys working here will always invite you to take a seat (stay a while) which can be necessary since some trips to the tailor can take three hours. The time spent will also depend on how “insistent” you are. The ladies buying sarees usually push their way to the front. You too should show your eagerness.

The Price of Tourism

Just as the end of a museum tour ends in the gift shop, a pit stop at a “model” resettlement village is sometimes the price to pay when traveling as a tourist. In Luang Prabang, Laos, we hired a tour guide for a day. He told us that we just need to make one stop along the way… a Hmong village.

Wares for sale in the Hmong village.

The Hmong people had been resettled here and ma”ke a living selling crafts to tourists. There are many debates on the pros and cons about whether this life is better for these people. Some people react by becoming very sad. Others feel uncomfortable. Yet others give the cute kids money after they’ve taken their photos. Some buy the crafts for sale. In this village, there was no pretense. The path through the village was lined with tables and stalls selling wares. We made our forced tour as fast as possible but, from the Northface clothing hanging on the line, it was evident that one could pay to stay overnight at this “authentic” village.

The youngest and the oldest women do the washing.

Prelude to the Monsoon

I have longed to experience the monsoon. I watch with great joy. It’s so wet that photos are hard to capture.

Monsoon.

I’m told that this is the end of the hot season. The monsoons have come early this year. The days are sunny and the temperature reaches only into the 90s F (35 Celsius). Every few days, the sky will darken, the winds whip the trees into a frenzy, and then the water descends from the sky in buckets.

Bucket list, indeed.

Bengali New Year

Wear red and white… see THE tree… join the parade down by Dhaka University… The new year is a time to clear old debts and start fresh! Everyone is merry and enjoys the carnival atmosphere. It was great fun. Truly festive.

The most photographed girl at the parade.

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As a foreigner here in Bangladesh, YOU may become part of the parade. I would guess that I had my photo taken, overtly and covertly, at least 100 times in five hours. I let many people take photos of me… Just as I took many photos of them.

Gorgeous Luang Prabang Waterfall

Walk up a waterfall and swim like tarzan in the jungle… at the Kuang Si waterfall near Luang Prabang, Laos.

The big waterfall... better to be breathless at the bottom than at the top.
One of the surreal colored pools.
George of the jungle...
One of many swimming holes on the walk up to the big waterfall.
Meet at the banana fritter stand when you get lost.

Just one reason that Laos is gorgeous!

Hand Made Paper

One part of being a “good tourist” is visiting organizations and shops run as non-profits. In Luang Prabang, Laos, we saw paper being made by hand. Every stage of the process was visible and it seemed like the job was not the worst in the world… “what do you do all day?” “I make paper with flowers on it.”

Hand made paper drying in the sun.

Laos was filled with gentle smiles.

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