They keep our necks warm, they are lovely companions, they can be roiled up into a little ball as a pillow, they accessorise the plainest outfit, they’ll cover up a bad hair day, their colours can enhance your looks, they are beautiful gifts, they can be worn as a sarong, a sash or a stole and can become objects of obsession . . . in fact not to have one on hand can be quite anxiety making.
I have far too many scarves to even put on a post, but I’ll start my tale with three old friends who have travelled the globe with me.
The first is a beautiful blue and black fringed scarf from India. I purchased it in Chennai – no bargaining, it came from a boutique that didn’t play hard and fast with tight fists. This is a one-off, and when it is folded in a drawer near its market cousins, it remains expensive and haughty.
A few days before I purchased the scarf I was in a bus trundling through the southern part of India. The bus had made frequent ‘comfort’ stops – let’s call them toilet stops at places that I couldn’t quite cope with – and I have a high tolerance for shitty toilets.
At one stop I said to my lady companions that perhaps it would be more hygienic if we just went into the bushes. All agreed with me.
As we were squatting in easy silence I looked behind me and there was a holy man wandering through the bush and starring at us. We all turned to wave and the poor skinny fellow took off like a rocket – don’t think he’d quite seen that many white bums lined up ever.
This next, soft, pretty confection came from the markets in Istanbul. I had just finished a cruise from Athens with my sister and we were stockpiling scarves. They only cost about $5 each but were comely and colourful. We wore them draped around our shoulders back to our hotel.
In a café near the hotel a young, pushy fella called us every night with true Turkish hospitality to come and have apple tea with him. We did, but he was starting to get annoying and we were trying to find ways to avoid him.
One night I said, ‘why are you flirting with us, we are old, there are lots of young, gorgeous girls around. ‘Ï don’t care’, he said, I just want a little bit of kissing and . . .’- yep, he wanted more. I just starred at him and said ‘you’re a lunatic’. He laughed hysterically and attracted the attention of his boss. The boss came out and shooed him away. ‘Why did you do that,’ I said – ‘he doesn’t work here, so why not?’ he said. So a strange man had been flirting with us and making us apple tea from the café . . . ah, Istanbul.
This silk organza lovely was found at Stanley Markets, Hong Kong. I had bought an embroidered silk coat that I was thrilled with, and not cheap either. While the coat was being packed up I saw the edge of this scarf poking out from under a pile of sweaters. As I gently tugged it out I saw it was silk organza with fine cotton tufts sprouting – it was intriguing and quickly attached itself to me. I bargained for a while then put my foot down and said I should have it for free, as the coat had no bargaining attached to the deal . . . shopkeeper was bemused and said – ‘why not’.
That trip to Hong Kong I was invited on a helicopter ride too see that amazing city and surrounding islands from on high – what a flight! And the scarf playfully tickled my neck as the helicopter swooped through the mighty canyons of the vertical city.
Tell me about your scarves . . . where did you buy them, what do they mean to you, and do they tell a story?