A Sari State of Affairs: India's Influence Seen EverywhereIndia is a country with 1 billion people and 700 different languages. It is ancient, but it also boasts one of the most thriving software industries in Asia and an immensely popular movie industry. And a quick look around Seoul these days makes it very clear that things Indian are becoming quite a trend.
Actually, there are three aspects to the Indian trend: Indian cuisine, Indian accessories and clothing, and traveling to India. For most people, the rich and spicy tastes of Indian food are what first attract. Most of the Indian restaurants in Seoul are fully booked almost every night, and every week it seems a new restaurant is opening. Most of those restaurants are rather up-market. At Dal, an Indian restaurant in the Artsonje Center, entrees average around 20,000 won (about $15.50).
Second, lots of Indian accessory and clothing shops are opening all around the city. They sell not only earrings and necklaces, but also incense, small purses, bags and clothing made from splendid fabrics. Near areas such as Hongik University and Ewha Womans University, shops like Henna and Indonara sell saris for 70,000 won and printed or dyed Indian skirts for 15,000-30,000 won. A sari is a rectangular piece of cloth that can be tied around a woman's body in several ways. Its color, texture, and its manner of being worn indicate the social status, age, occupation, region, and even religion of a woman who wears it.
Lastly, traveling in India is increasingly popular, especially among Korean college students. One of the major reasons is that the huge country is inexpensive, but there is a lot to do. For example, for only 140,000 won per month, you can study English and computers. Even though India has 15 official languages, each spoken by more than a million people, English is still the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication, making it a good place for young people, desperate to learn English better, to study.
In terms of information technology, India is ranked high. Hundreds of web communities and two big portal sites show Koreans' zest for the Indian culture. Those sites give a lot of good guidance for young Koreans about how to plan their trips to India, as well as some other information about Indian information technology.
For foreigners in Korea, visiting Indian restaurants and shops are some of the few ways to experience cultures that are neither Western nor Korean. Especially for Indian residents in Korea, they provide a chance to soothe their homesickness.
by Kim Sun-ha