It’s hard to blend in when you’re as white as I am. I’m not just Caucasian (even though I do have Navajo and Cherokee blood), I could be considered the shade in between white and albino. I didn’t get the tanning genes my brothers got. I got the high cheekbones and almond eyes, but my European heritage took presidency on the color of my skin. But, owing to the fact that I love people, different cultures and travel, there are some things I do, or sometimes fail to do, to blend in, that I can impart to you now.
In India, there are amazing beautiful garments, honestly, practically works of art! You will notice the women dress in sarees, no matter what they are doing, working, cleaning, shopping, farming, they are wearing sprees. In my prior experience and thus my uneducated opinion, sarees were these fancy dresses and I was blown away seeing people wearing them during every day activities, even among a herd of cows and goats. Now I realize, there are gradients of elegance to sarees. But, honestly, even the most beautiful sarees I have seen being worn around the village on women sweeping dust off the street. I have seen green lacy sarees stitched with golden blooms, and I have seen a red and white almost polka-dotted saree on an older woman walking down the road.
Then there are the sarees which are made of thicker, more durable material, they are meant for very special occasions. I wore a silky or satiny saree which I thought was quite elegant to one of the celebratory events during a wedding week here and was quite surprised when I was told later, it was inappropriate. I, most likely, was wearing one of the every day sarees I could wear while washing dishes or driving the kids to soccer practice. Ha ha! So, one must secure help, I think, when going to these fancy dress parties or weddings and special occasions if one is to pick out an appropriate saree. Not only are they distinguished but they are hard to put on, it’s like learning to tie ones shoes all over again, except 10 times harder. There is probably a rhyme for it. I will have to see if I can find a video on YouTube to show you how it’s done. I still can’t do it and usually have someone wrap me up in it, for me.
Now when you go to an event of some sort, do not forgot to wear a large amount of jewelry to match your saree. Gold preferably. Heavy necklaces, earrings, lots of bangles, jewels, etc…the more the better. If you can wear a tikka (the headpiece) to match your necklace, even better.
There are other types of clothing you can wear to fit in every day that are far more easy to wear when you’re out on the town, shopping or dining or sightseeing. You want to get yourself a Kurta and some leggings and sandals. Every Indian wears sandals, and every Indian wears a Kurta and leggings. Mostly you will find they match the leggings with the sash/scarf. So, a long shirt, leggings, sandals and a scarf. Every clothing shop will have some, so if you get yourself several sets of Kurtas, scarfs, and leggings in mix and matchable colors, you’ll be in good shape to fit in. Most Indians don’t wear socks with their sandals, it’s a dead give away that you’re not from around these parts if you wear socks too. Many Indians do wear jeans, but best if you wear darker jeans or avoid them if you really want to fit in. Check out Kurta and Salwa Kurta online. You will see some simple and intricate examples.
Jeans, heavy duty jeans, are best worn in the colder areas anyway, like the jungle. When in the jungle, the weather can be cold and windy, so you’ll want to wear bring a sweater, sweatshirt, or jacket. Colors are very important in the jungle. Going trekking or on jeep safari, you have to think with blending in to the jungle or be aware that certain animals tune in to certain colors. Bright colors are an absolute no-no. No reds, pinks, purples, bright or light blues, anything that sticks out in the forest. Rather, wear natural colors, browns, beige, grey, black, dark green, colors that blend easily. Wear hiking boots because of the rocky terrain. During jeep rides, you should likely wear a mask and glasses because of the dust that gets kicked up by the jeep. I made the mistake of wearing bright blue and my companion wore bright maroon during one of our treks and the guide almost didn’t let us go with him, he instead put us between him and another person to ensure we were blocked slightly, but during that trek we were mere meters away from elephants, the most giant animals in the forest. They spotted us just even more easily than we spotted them. It just makes one stand out too much and it’s a risk no one should take.
Some things to bring: Binoculars, telephoto cameras, digital cam or sound recorders, bottled water, hiking stick if you need extra help.