Author's note: the dupatta is a major women's accessory in India, a long scarf, roughly 1.5 metres long and 12-24" wide, that is meant to be draped across the chest for modesty. At first one chafes at the added heat and bulk of this garment, but during one's travels, it proves to come in handy with a thousand uses. Dupattas are best chosen in a dark colour to match all your outfits and not show dirt. After washing in your trusty bathroom bucket (remind me to explain the bucket system in a later post), a cotton dupatta dries in the Indian sun in a matter of minutes. How did I ever travel without one?
Let me count the ways....
1. Wiping your dripping hands after the restaurant "hand wash" (there is never a towel)
2. Covering your nose against diesel fumes, stench of urine and sewers, et al
3. Impromptu monsoon-season umbrella
4. Shade from blazing afternoon sun (the rest of the year)
5. Thin shawl against morning chill
6. Bath towel
7. Extra bedsheet, or use to cover the filthy pillowcase the hotel never changes
8. (when folded) Pillow on long bus or train ride
9. Head scarf for Sikh gurudwara, Muslim mosque or Parsi temple
10. Wrapping breakables inside your luggage
11. Instant Moghul princess costume (above)
12. Blindfold during terrifying bus ride (below)
13. Curtain in cheap hotel room
14. Change purse (small bills and even coins can be tied securely in one knotted corner)
15. Tourniquet for cobra bite
16. Wrap-around skirt/sarong / Beach coverup
17. Tea strainer
18. Kidnapping blindfold (useful in Bihar)
19. Balinese/Sri Lankan waist sash
20. Add your own here!
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