I want to say a few things about this throwback photo.
This is from my first trip to India in 1995. My Dad’s wife Shirley worked with an Indian woman in NYC who was going home to India for an arranged marriage. Shirley was excited to get me an invitation to this wedding. I was like “India is huge. I am going to Mysore to study yoga with Pattabhi Jois and then to Kerala to meet Ammachi. The chances of me being anywhere near this wedding are next to nil.” But unbelievably, the bride was from Mysore and the groom from nearby Bangalore!
The bride and her parents tracked down Pattabhi Jois’s Yoga Shala at his modest home in the Lakshmi Puram neighborhood of Mysore, to inquire about me. And next, they showed up at the very run down Hotel Tara near downtown Mysore. My yoga pal and roomie Lisa Schrempp and I were doing turmeric face masks in our jammies on a Saturday late morning – the only real day to sleep in – there was no yoga class on Saturday. I am sure we were giddy from Lisa’s famously spiced and caffeinated chai when there was a knock on the door. I opened the door to find this earnest Mother and daughter. They presented me with a formal paper invitation. Imagine their confusion? What was the “daughter” of the VP of a major publishing firm in NYC doing in a flop house near the bus station? You see I was a VIP Special Invited Guest!
This sari is silk with real silver threads in the ornate border – very high luxe. How did I afford it? Well it was damaged. There are slight fade lines along where it had been folded. Locals would not buy a damaged sari for an event – it would be inauspicious and carry bad karma. I was free from such limited thinking. I was so appreciative to be able to wear and admire such an incredible and artful handwoven masterpiece. When I went shopping for “damaged saris” it felt very black market. We spoke in whispers looking over our shoulders as I was led to basements and back corners of stores.
And finally, I received many compliments from the wedding guests at St Philomenas Cathedral in Mysore. One elegant woman said “Oh you look very lovley in that sari.” I thanked her and said “But I have not wrapped it very well.” “No” she replied, “you have not.”