you too can look Desi.
I FINALLY uploaded the photos from Eid onto my computer. It’s been so long that not only did I forgot what photos were taken but I totally forgot what I looked like. Wow. No wonder there’s the saying “the clothes make the (wo)man!”
But before you get to see the Desi mama – please allow me to provide a brief photographic history. Here I am, in all my chubby glory, as the newly minted Loren Michele. The shackles of my original name, Sara Ahmed, discarded at the Long Island border!
I like to refer to my early years as the Angry-Arab years. Even before I discovered my birth family, I knew I looked like one pissed-off middle eastern kid. I must not have gotten to go swimming or just experienced a common grave injustice of childhood.
As the high school years consumed me, so did my eyebrows.
Seriously, they are ridiculous!
And then, getting married!!! Here I am reviewing my ketubah which is the Jewish marriage contract. I believe it was the four goats that made me furrow my brow. I think I was worth at least six.
I signed it anyway. Sucker.
Here I am as one happy Jewish bride, the newly minted Mrs. Levinson!
Okay — so there you have a brief photographic history. Back to the subject of this ‘instructional’ post…. In just four, yes, FOUR, easy steps you too can go from a blushing Jewish bride to a modest Desi mama.
STEP I — The outfit! This outfit is called a … hang on, I have to look it up again. Folks, I really don’t know any of this better than yourselves. Got it — the official name is Salwar Kameez. This is by far the most comfortable dressy outfit I have ever worn. The salwar kameez consists of a loose fitting top and elastic matching pants. There is also a matching scarf that is used to cover your head when praying or in a mosque, I believe. They are hand stitched, often with elaborate beading and/or embroidery.
Now before I go on, I would like to bring up a somewhat sensitive topic. Fabric. The majority of these lovely outfits are made of polyester. Polyester. Really? Here’s the thing — polyester doesn’t breath. It is hot and takes to odor rather easily. Traditional Pakistani food is delicious and spicy but after a meal of garlic, toasted cumin, and ginger paste those odors come out of the pores. Hence the importance of fabric that breathes. Might I suggest cotton? Just sayin’.
But the outfits are beautiful and in another post I will share how they came to be hanging here in this photo.
STEP II— Mehndi or menhdi or henna tatoos or, as I like to call it, my talented cousin’s art. She did this in all of thirty seconds. I kid you not. If I tried to do this it would look like one of my four-year-old’s drawings.
Step III — Almost there! With a salwar kameez and some stunning mehndi, all that’s left is getting dressed. Turns out it doesn’t matter what type of religious service you are going to attend shoes must be put on, one foot at a time. In this case, I got to wear gorgeous slippers imported from Pakistan by an aunt (thank you!!!). I will try to include a photo of the shoes soon.
Step IV — The head scarf. It is not easy to do as evidence by my graceful expression below. Specifically, I believe I was thinking “how the hell do I do wear this thing?” Luckily, I had help.
The result — NY Jew becomes Pakistani Desi Mama!
When I look at that photo I still cannot believe it is me. As I write this post I am wearing a short black dress, tights, and knee-high leather boots. Not quite the Desi outfit. I guess that is why photos are so powerful. These photos really are worth thousands of words.