I didn’t go to Udaipur looking for a bespoke tailor, and probably would have happily ignored the surfeit of shops offering to copy and make any design. Except that one of them had photos of Judi Dench on the store front, and I was curious about the shop’s connection to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
The recently-released movie, starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, and a cast of stellar veteran actors, was – I knew – filmed in Jaipur and Udaipur. The film’s director, John Madden, had chosen to film in Rajasthan because,
It’s just an incredibly rich color palette you find in that part of India…Jaipur, and I suppose Rajasthan in general, was a perfect emblem of an older feudal system in India and an agricultural economy that was colliding in a very immediate way with the modern technological India, “molten India” essentially. It’s a beautiful old city that’s very down on its heels now. It has some extraordinary architecture that is suffering terribly from dilapidation, but at the same time its beauty and extraordinariness is discernible.
In Jaipur, you see every conceivable mode of transport, from big expensive cars and buses at one end of the scale, down to rickshaws and horse-drawn cars and camels, all sharing the same road space. There’s something about the chaos and the jumble and the sort of madness of it that seemed a very good context for the story, because the film is at least partly about culture shock, and culture shock was a term surely coined to describe what happens when you go to India.
Riotous color and yes, even the possibility of culture shock were some of the reasons that I had elected to return to Jaipur with my children. Udaipur, however, was new to me, and my decision to visit the City of Lakes was, in good part, influenced by what I saw in the film. So, when I spotted the photos of Judi Dench on the Gangaur Boutique’s front window, I had to find out more.
Rakesh Yadav, the manager of Gangaur Boutique, was onsite and happy to tell us about his brush with fame. It turned out that both Judi Dench and Bill Nighy – a British actor known for sartorial elegance – had ordered several tailor-made designs for their personal wardrobes, including a number of suits (of course!) for Bill Nighy. Intrigued, I looked around to see what the actress might have ordered. Woolen coats were strikingly attractive, but what caught my eye was a vaguely familiar aqua evening dress that I knew would look marvelous with my daughter’s blonde looks.
Surprisingly, given how few of my recommendations find approval, Kayla loved the dress. So, when we determined that the price for a custom-made evening dress was the equivalent of about $60 – an astonishing bargain for similar dresses back home – we placed the order knowing that she would need the dress for upcoming events at her high school.
It wasn’t until we returned for the final fitting that I recognized the dress. Not in aqua, but in white, flaring out above a subway grating. I had ordered Marylin Monroe’s white dress from The Seven Year Itch. Likely not what Judi Dench ordered. And all I could do at that point was to be glad my daughter attends an all-girls school.
Find It!Gangaur Boutique Gangaur Ghat Rajasthan 313001 Phone: 91-414233283 Email: Rakesh Yadav, Manager, email@example.com
Family Travel in Jaipur and Udaipur in Rajasthan:
- Train to Jaipur
- Exotic India Beguiles at Amber Fort
- A Village Tour and Camel Safari in Jaipur
- Beware the Monkey Temple
- Havelis of Rajasthan
- The Art of Henna
- Harem Pants – Modesty and Fashion in India
Sandra Foyt | Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on GetawayMavens.com, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at SandraFoyt.com, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @SandraFoyt.