Friday, April 19

Custom Made.

Yesterday, i went in for my first wedding dress fitting. The wedding dress is custom made, not only to my measurements but to my specifications. I didn't try any dresses on. I didn't pick a designer. I am the designer. I'll feel really good about that if it turns out well, and really silly if it falls off of me when i'm walking down the aisle. Anyway, I've had to fight with the people who are making it, but i'm starting to get excited about how it's going to turn out. As i said, yesterday, i was scheduled for my first fitting.
I traveled the 45 minutes to south Delhi and walked into the shop. The owner stuttered. He asked in Hindi for some fabric samples as he snapped his fingers.
He looked at me, pulled out the photos from which we're building my dress, and spoke very slowly.
"Actually, this fabric, you see, it's.... not available, in India."
I flashed him a half smile. He said they had similar fabrics which would drape in the same way, and they could replace it. I nodded. Sounded fine to me. Now, you won't believe it til you see it, (Andrew), but my dress should be made out of a knitted cotton jersey. The man wanted to replace the knitted cotton jersey with chiffon and silk. CHIFFON AND SILK! Sorry to all the women in the whole world for abandoning the prototype, but i hate silk. So i told him, actually i don't like any of these fabrics, and i picked this dress entirely because of the fabric. He sensed me getting to the give-me-my-money-back punchline, and intercepted me. He cut me off with,
....Here, is what I can do."
So he sent me with Kasim, an exemplary Indian as far as customer service goes, about 10 minutes away  by auto-rickshaw to Nehru Place. Nehru place is an enormous import market filled with two things: electronics and fabric.  I donned my headcovering and my sunglasses and scanned the ground as we walked together, and i smiled. How much more customized do you get, honestly, than scouring the vast Indian fabric market to pick out the exact cloth you'd like your wedding dress to be cut from? We went from place to place looking for a lycra-based fabric. We would walk into a shop...
Kasim: "Show this lady whatever she wants to see. She needs lycra-based fabric. It's for a gown."
Vendor (with disinterest): "Printed ya plain?" (ya means or in Hindi)
Kasim: "Plain. White."
Vendor (in horror, and with the ends of each word screeching to a high-pitched halt): "PLAIN? WHITE?"
Just think, in the land of patterned bright colors and gold and cequins and glitter - NEVER TOO MUCH GLITTER - i had requested a bolt of simple white fabric.  The eyebrows of Nehru Place never got such a workout.
After searching the imported shops for one good drape, the perfect opaque cotton lycra - 'and not a dirty roll, bhaiya, And measure it in weight for us, bhaiya - because we're very smart and we know that lycra is a light fabric', finally we found it.
And we bought it for $14.81.

It was one of those moments where i had a momentary lapse back into tourist mode. I let my heart thrill inside my quiet disinterested facade, and nodded once - it would do.
To be honest, i was tickled. India had surprised me with adventure where i thought i would find disappointment. I'm happy to take an attitude adjustment from my Father and let him daily renew my love for these people i've become so familiar with.
The "first fitting" has been moved to Sunday evening. Wish me luck!

Love from Delhi,
Julie in white.

Sunday, April 7

Career Counseling

Last night, something special happened.

Within PMI are different community outreaches led by different members of the staff.  Praisey currently leads the Child Health and Education Program which we shorten to CHEP. She oversees the kids from grades 6-12 in their tutorship programs.  This year for the first time, CHEP has a graduating class. Six years ago, CHEP opened up and began taking in sixth graders for after-school study help. About seven of the original students have remained with PMI from that time til now, and they are currently finishing the twelfth grade and filling out forms for college and trade school application.
They come from the slum nearby, and they are the first generation in their families to be educated through high school. It's not only that their parents couldn't get an education, either - they just don't see a need for it in an enclosed community replete with traditionalism, alcoholism, and cyclical poverty.  And let me tell you something I've learned: it's really difficult to value education if your parents don't.
Last night, we provided a Career Counseling event in which the students from 10th, 11th, and 12th grades sat with college-educated people who care about their well-being and know about the education system in Delhi.  I got to speak to them all about perseverance and the way to choose your career path.  We plan to have follow-up counseling events for the graduating class.


All outreach is invaluable. Everyone's hard work counts.
But these students touch a place deep in my heart. They represent the whole of PMI's working years - they represent hundreds of hours devoted, and there they stand - healthy and smart and confident and strong - blooming as a result of all the people who care about them worldwide.
Their well-being and their commitment to pour back into their communities is the single reason I want to be involved here. This is what will change the game. These people. They can go where I cannot. They can help people I'll never have the opportunity to meet.

More than all of this, so many of these students have chosen Truth over lies as a direct result of PMI and CBC efforts. They meet weekly to discuss the Good Book with our good friend Raj, and they ask hard questions and they stand up to persecution daily. They aren't perfect, but they have hard lives and they do an excellent job handling them. They have chosen the most excellent way. They have put in hard work to improve their lives and the lives around them. They have thought for themselves and understood which Truth would set them free.
 No, i couldn't be prouder of them.

Keep praying for them to be healthy and strong, and for them to have a deep desire not only to improve themselves, but to give back to their community. Oh, how they give me hope for India.

Love from Delhi,
Julie with hope for the future.