Ramadan commenced on Thursday, June 18, and will end on Friday, July 17. No grand commercial barrage accompanies Ramadan in the USA quite unlike the December holidays. The only evidence I’ve seen of it was this modest sign posted inside the fabric shop’s window:
Due to Ramadan
Mon – Fri
9.30 AM to 6.30 PM
Sat 10 AM to 6 PM
Sun 11 AM to 5 PM
I was hot. The turbaned shopkeepers greeted me with smiles and went on conversing in an Asian language I didn’t recognize (why I think I’ve an ear for languages is another story). The store was not icily air conditioned, unfortunately for me, but the men didn’t seem bothered. Although it was one of the hottest days we’ve had, they showed no discomfort. I, on the other hand, patted my face with a drooping tissue. When Ramadan occurs in the hottest months of the year, the fast must be a sure sign of devotion!
As a sewist (the latest term for someone who sews), I let my fingers do the looking. Every bolt of fabric, every roll of upholstery begs to be smoothed, pinched, and petted. Some fabrics, sirens like velvet, call out louder. “Hello fingers,” velvet croons. Others desire to be admired under different light conditions. Brocades, silks from China, and dichroic fabrics that appear to change color depending upon the incident light beg to be wiggled. I like to hold my hand under sheer materials, observing its outline.
I thought the Garment District would have Jewish shopkeepers, reminiscent of the famous statue of a tailor, “The Garment Worker” by Judith Weller at 555 Seventh Avenue. Not so. The majority of stores I entered on 39th Street were populated by Asian men, many wearing turbans. When did this happen?
I picked up a bolt of 45-inch wide stretch fabric with rainbow metallic threads. Yum. They hovered while I scanned my smartphone, trying to mentally calculate the yardage I’d need for an outfit while trying to Google a half-remembered pattern I sewed 22 years ago. I switched to a 60-inch wide roll of Indian embroidered cotton eyelet. “Three-and-a-half yards,” I confidently said while not feeling so confident. At least the wider yardage will give me some leeway.
The shopkeeper calmly measured out the fabric while I dreamt of the creations I could make. I haggled for “$5 worth” of a coordinating rayon. I haven’t measured what he assured me was a greater length than I would have gotten for the quoted price per yard.
My purchases in hand, I headed to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for an icy coffee confection. Decaf, but with whipped cream. I followed no Ramadan restrictions and golly, I was hot.