China in Photos

China in Photos: Day No. 89 In Which I Visit a Tailor & Eat the Best Dumplings in Chengdu

Last photo from Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.  I don’t know why but I really like this one.  The people in focus in the corner, the hazy scene.  Probably technically not a very good shot but it reminds me a lot of how the night felt.

Anyways, so last night I went to see a tailor, about a qipao, for a ball.

I didn’t take any pictures, mostly because I was too busy picking measured and pinched and picking out fabric.  And being bitten by mosquitoes.

Oh and when I was massively overwhelmed by mosquitos swarming at my knees (and just my knees, go figure) the kind and capable tailor, totally unphased, took a break from measuring the distance between my massive Meiguo shoulders to rub some repellent on my knees.

This lady knew her stuff.  What I was hoping for was a slightly less traditional qipao; and, between my gestures and my friend A. translating, she had sketched in 30 seconds the dress I had been struggling to draw for the past 3 hours.

While I fussed over at least 10 different fabrics, she picked up a strange blue and brown feathery pattern and wrapped it around me in a very kind but no-nonsense, “I know what’s best for you even if you don’t,” kind of way.  And you know what?  That blue and brown peacock pattern was my absolute favorite in the end.

Monday we go back to try on a plain cheap cotton version of the dress before the tailor starts cutting into the real fabric.  With qipaos, its all about getting every measurement right.  One mistake or miscalculation can be the difference between something that fits as smooth as the silk its made of, and something  that looks lumpy and mishappen and awkward.

Of couse, none of this would have even been remotely feasible without my increasingly good friend, A. who, after a simple lunchtime email from me, promised enthusiastically to bring me to her favorite tailor in the city as many times as needed to make the dress.

A. is one of those people that you are always lucky to meet abroad but even luckier to have as a friend.  A. was born and raised here, left only for a few years to study in Germany, then returned to her hometown where she lives with her husband, a Canadian, who moved across the world to be with her.

And I totally understand why.  A. is so kind, funny, sarcastic, yet diplomatic all at the same time.  Chengdu is her home  and therefore she knows everything about the best places for everything, from Korean food to hair cuts to furniture to tailors.

But even more than that, she’s a great girlfriend with great stories, good advice, and a sense of humor.  Tailor recommendations and translations all aside, its amazingly lucky to have met a friend like A. with whom to sit with on the couch and trade husband gossip.  Or call up on the phone for a quick question and spend a half hour chatting.

After a few months sans-girlfriends here, I had kind of given up on finding the girl posse that I had in DC and had in India before that and Madison before that.

Now, I’m realizing that I just had to be patient and a little lucky.  All of sudden there are new friends to be had all around, to call up for baking binges or spontaneous dumping dinners.  It’s hard to describe how much good friends really make a place feel more like a home.

And speaking of friends, if I keep posting any longer, I’m going to be late for a dim sum date with a few of them.  Until tomorrow, happy weekend!

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One thought on “China in Photos: Day No. 89 In Which I Visit a Tailor & Eat the Best Dumplings in Chengdu

  1. Oooo! A ball!

    Will it be held there at post or will it be held somewhere else, and you’ll have to travel to it?

    So glad you found a friend. That’s wonderful!

    Love your blog – take care! And can’t wait to see a picture of the gown!

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