Sunday, January 13, 2008

In stitches

I took my sisters' package to have it stitched for shipping. My friend Robert in California is fascinated by this uniquely Indian requirement and made me promise to blog about it.

All parcels to be sent through the mail are required to be sewn up in plain white cloth. Supposedly, this prevents theft. No one explains HOW it prevents theft...I suppose it makes it more difficult to open, but you could always just steal the whole thing.

First, I had to get an appropriate box. In this case, I had to go to a gents' tailor shop and buy a shirt-box for 15 Rs. (they wanted 20.)

Then, I folded the shawls into their separate plastic bags and sealed them with packing tape. THEN I put them into yet another plastic shopping bag and sealed it up too. You never know what kind of inclement conditions a package will be exposed to internationally.

Then I sealed up the shirt box on all sides, with brown shipping tape.

The tailor said a place called Rainbow Shipping and Parcels could stitch it, just up the corner. Most touristed places will have lots of shops for this, but any ordinary tailor should be able to do it, and probably for less money.

The Nepali boys working there wrap the box in off-white coloured cheese cloth, just like wrapping a present. But instead of taping it shut, they bunch up the excess cloth and sew it closed with white thick thread.

The stitching cost 50Rs. (they asked for 75.)

Then, I took a black Magic Marker and write the "TO" address in big block letters on the front, and my FROM address on the back.

The Nepalis (who were all neighbors from Nawaparsi, near Lumbini in the Terai region of southern Nepal) recommended I go to Bangla Sahib Gurudwara GPO.

I asked the (typically sweet, shy, polite) Nepali boys how they liked living in India. "Conditions are better," one said, "money is better, we are getting some 5000 Rs Indian a month. " That is about $120. In Nepal, they said, it would be much less for the same job. "But people are not so good here...more cheating...more lying...." he said, shaking his head and frowning.

I knew that Nepalis will not eat anything (I mean, almost anything) other than momos and Dal Bhatt (a rice and vegetable thali prepared in Nepali style - heavy on the spiced potatos). "Where do you get your dal bhatt here in Paharganj?"

They directed me to the Everest Bakery and Cafe. "This is such good dal bhatt. All people working there are Nepali, and music is always Nepali!" they enthused.

It's also possible to have the Rainbow Shipping guys ship your parcel for you, but I just couldn't resist standing in another line.

Next stop: the GPO.

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