For the first time in my life, going shopping for clothes made me happy. It was a rather unique experience.
A week ago I was down in the office talking to one of my coworkers, Ing, about how lonely I was. Back home I was used to being very busy, and I'm not really happy unless I'm very busy. Here, I teach 3 classes a day. That's it. And since each class is only 40 minutes, that's a lot of free time I have every day. Since the promised Mandarin lessons still haven't materialized, I'm pretty bored. There's really only so much wandering aimlessly around the city I can do before I start to go a bit wonky.
I was telling Ing about the things I wanted to do, and how frustrated I was that I couldn't do them, when she grabbed onto something I said. I'd mentioned how I really loved the traditional Chinese jackets that some of the women I saw in the street were wearing, and how I'd love to get one, but I could never find one that would fit me.
"Well," she said, "there's a tailor in town who could make you one very easily. I have some free time right now, let's go."
I love Ing. Love love love.
Anyway, she took me to the tailor, pointing out a few places along the way, and just chatted with me about Jiangyan and her life here. I found out her husband teaches music at another school, and really likes classical music and opera. She told me that the bunches of flowers in baskets lined up outside a store meant the store had just opened, and all of the friends of the owners had sent them flowers. She pointed out where her house used to be when she was growing up, but it was destroyed when the widened the main road.
We eventually started down a narrow street, and she talked to me about how new clothes were usually made for the new year. Fireworks we going off, and she asked me what we called them in Canada, and if they were set off often there. I talked to her about how we usually only have fireworks on Canada Day and New Years Eve, and how I was looking forward to the fireworks display for Spring Festival.
When we made it to the tailor, it turned out that he was already gone, but his wife helped us pick me out a jacket. It's all black, with red hilights to it. Ing and the tailor's wife got into a barganing session, and Ing finally turned to me and gave me the price. I smiled and nodded, happy to pay anything for this chance to have a nice jacket from China. I have no idea how much it would cost to get a jacket custom made in Canada, but it's working out to about 50$ CDN here.
Last night I went for a fitting, sadly without Ing to hold my hand through it. They brought down the "rough draft" of the jacket, and had me put it on. It's just the main part of the jacket, the sleeves weren't attached yet.
The tailor was there, though, and man... I've always had this image of tailors being little old men bent over from age, with pins in their mouth. Let's just say (since my father reads this blog) that this was not the case. The tailor is definately a nice looking young man. Too bad he's married. And doesn't speak English. *laugh*
Although the tailor's wife had taken several measurements when I was there the first time, the jacket didn't quite fit properly. They had... hmm... miscalculated the size of my breasts, to be frank. I'm not particularily surprised at this. But, twenty minutes later they had taken the seems apart at the back and resown them, and this time it fit over my breasts perfectly. They marked where the buttons would go, had me try on the sleeves to get the right length, all sorts of nifty stuff. I felt so special. I get the impression (although I could be wrong) that custom fitted clothes aren't that big a deal in China, but I'm used to attempting to buy off the rack.
So, from what I was able to piece together, the jacket will be ready on Sunday. I can't wait to wear it. It's so beautiful.
I will make one other comment: I always make it a point to speak like everyone around me understands what I'm saying. At least twice now I've found this to be a good assumption. You can get a feeling when people are translating what you're saying to the people around them, and I got that feeling again last night, when I was attempting to talk about this jacket to the tailor. I think his wife understands English, or at least enough to get what I was saying and asking. They knew I was saying it was beautiful, and understood what I was asking when I asked when to come back to get it.
They had some other designs of jackets there that I liked, too. Ing wants me to get one in bright red, and I'd love one in green, too. Of course, he also had one on display that was a long jacket, like a trench coat but it buttoned up differently that I totally fell in love with. I feel so decadent!