Utterly Iridescent

The patterns and colors are everywhere brilliant, as if the masses’ garments have smoldered and taken flame in the searing sun. Bright oranges, blues, greens, and reds leap out at you like you're viewing Delhi through a kaleidoscope, a sense which is heightened by the constant stream of sweat pouring from your brow. The women wear saris and the men long kultas, and all skin beyond their faces and the occasional arm are nearly hidden. Many of the patterns are dazzling and garish and yet through clever combinations of wraps accented by scarves and bags, their clashing colors are woven together into a beautifully vivid pop-art mesh.

 

It was here that we realized that we'd like to bring some of the most beautiful items home to try our hand at opening a store, if for no other reason than the joy and the experience.

 

I became acutely aware while browsing among the street stalls however that picking out great designs was incredibly difficult. While all of these thundering patterns were mesmerizing as a whole, when I plucked out individual pieces for purchase, most of them immediately lost their luster, like a wild animal suddenly caged. I had to put each back; It was best among the herd. Other pieces however grew more beautiful upon inspection, like a golden salmon plucked from a shivering silver stream, and those we kept. Or I should say, Eve acquired.

 

Eve would be the last to tell you this, but her mastery over the vendors we met was utterly spellbinding. Like a tigress she leapt with agility between bubbling generosity and austere demands, and plied willing friendship from all of the shop owners we met.

 

To watch her work is to see perfectly poised fluidity. It comes naturally, in a way that I never quite achieved for myself in sales. "He's not giving me a discount" she says to me loudly, purposefully, over her shoulder as I enter the room. I meet the shop owner's eyes, which are pleading, and he starts his pitch over. I wave my hands and point to Eve. She's in charge here. "I've sold jewelry back home" she says, "and even in the states this would never go for more than this," and she shows him her phone. After a short time, he relents, and we have our price, but now they're back to where they began, talking about his shop, and how his family is. After a long conversation and more tea he throws in two more rings, and he wants us to come back tomorrow, and we leave, the three of us all laughing. Each time, I'm more in awe of how she can conjure these encounters from the bright and smoldering mountains of textiles and people, and even more excited about what we might create with it.