We had a morning breakfast meeting where Mike Murray gave us a presentation on Unitus and the roll that is plays with the MFIs as an accelerator. I really learned a lot, and it clarified a lot of things for me. For those of you who may of just joined in, you can read about Unitus at their website http://www.unitus.com/
Today was shopping day! After 11:30 we got on a bus to find all the great things that Hyderabad has to offer to a happy shopper! Our first stop was a store that is famous for selling pearls. Actually, Hyderabad has a number of stores that sell top of the line pearls. It is estimated that 80% of the pearls in the world make their way through Hyderabad. The pearls originate elsewhere, then are polished and sorted here. Hyderabad is also noted for it's fine jewelry, and prospective brides come from all over the country to buy their jewelry here.
The store that we went to gave our group a 20% discount, which was pretty good. Some of the people in our group who have bought there before, have had their their pearls evaluated at 4 times what they paid for them back at home. So we knew they were good quality. I bought a beautiful two strand, peachy coloured pearl necklace and matching earrings for myself, and a dusty rose coloured set for Grandma Lee, for "babysitting" Stephanie.
The next store we went to was called Kalanjari, and is a really nice clothing store, where even the natives do their shopping. I bought some beautiful Indian clothing and also made Gary buy a traditional Indian outfit for himself, complete with turban and pointy shoes! He looked really funny. Even the sales clerks were laughing. http://www.flickr.com/photos/24435927@N00/64389182/
My favourite clothing for women is called a salwar kameez. It is usually made up of a pair of pants, covered by a tunic, and finished with a scarf or shawl. If you'd like to see what a salwar kameez looks like visit http://utsavsarees.com/pages/crepesalwarkameez.htm
The one I got is very traditional, and is made with a type of weaving called Himroo, which is usually passed down as a family heirloom. It is made of gold silk, black and dark dark green pants and shawl, and has the lovely gold weaving in the front bodice and along the edges of the scarf. "Himroo weaving originated in Aurangabad, which was formerly a part of Hyderabad state, but it now in Maharashtra. It remains, even today traditional, a hereditary occupation in Andhra Pradesh. The techniques uses a special loom, with cotton yarn forming the warp an silk yarn forming the weft, to produce a brocade-like fabric used mainly for shawls, bedspreads and furnishing. One may observe Himroo weaving near Dar-ush-shifa in the old city." It is really beautiful!
Our shopping trip lasted a bit longer than we were expecting, so we missed the bus back to the hotel. That's when the fun really started, as we had to take an autorickshaw to get there. For those of you who don't know what an autorickshaw is, it's pretty much what it sounds like, a motorized rickshaw! One guy sits in the front, and the passengers sit in the back. It's not very big and has no windows in the back, but it's great for getting around in the traffic here because it can go just about anywhere. It can actually fit more people than you think. I saw one once that had at least 10 school kids crammed into it, with all their school bags tied to the back somehow. Because it was now rush hour, the exhaust fumes were really bad, particularly when a bus pulled up beside us, with its tailpipe right in our face. I should have brought a surgical mask with me! Some people actually do that because the air is so bad. I'm sure I would wear one too if I were travelling in this all day. Here is a photo of an autorickshaw. http://www.bharattraders.com/three-wheelers.html
In the evening, we had another traditional Indian meal at a great restuarant where we sat on giant couches with big pillows on the roof of the building overlooking the city. It was great! Some of our newfound Indian friends from Unitis helped to explain the food and culture to us. In the distance you could hear the sound of firecrackers going off in anticipation of Diwali, or Festival of Lights, which is one of there big celebrations that begins Nov 1.