Many of the shops here in Ladakh are closed on Sunday when traders peddling used clothes set up their wares, piled high on folding cots. Still seated along the curb of the main street are the farmers' wives in their quilted stovepipe hats selling lettuce, turnips and other vegetables.
The big sellers pulled from the stacks of old clothes are the men's tweed jackets for 35 rupees (about $3) and the running clothes, particularly stretch jogging pants in blue with white stripes, for 20 rupees (less than $2). According to one government official who asked not to be quoted, the old clothes are siphoned from huge bundles brought in from the United States to be used as rags.
The other big Sunday activity in Leh is washing clothes in the mountain streams that run along the side of the road though the town. Last week the army had commandeered the best spot, washing their khaki items at the top of the hill. Others settle by the stream of cold water further toward town to wash their clothes, their pots and themselves.
By the way, there was a note on the door of a small hotel in Ladakh saying that the hotel would not be responsible for the condition of laundry. No wonder. The clothes are placed on rocks and beaten with flat sticks to get them clean. White shirts were returned a little bruised, a little gray, a little damp, but basically clean.
All women cover their heads here, usually with floral scarves tied at the nape of the neck, two long braids hanging out from under them. The head-covering is for a practical reason, because of the dust, as much as for style. The popular hat is vertically quilted, shaped like a stovepipe with turned-back cuff, usually in deep maroon silk to match the classic kossulma wrapped coat, or in navy or black velvet. The hats are called tibi, and the women wear them perched on top of their heads. The men's version, sometimes trimmed with fur, is worn slightly askew.
Yogi Itwarnath, a Hindu lama, had quite a following walking down the main street of Leh last Sunday. He was wearing a white kurta (tunic) and dhoti (classic wrapped diaper pants), necklaces of carved fruit pits, some with as many as 21 faces on them, and stone hoop earrings. "The earrings are the most important jewelry," he said. "They are my signature. With such big earrings which I cannot take off, I can never run away. I will always be recognized." Cold Cream Luke
We always believed the story that the only beauty treatment Paul Newman indulged in was todunk his face in a bucket of ice water. He's apparently about to change his ways by negotiating with Max Factor to put his name (but not his photo) on a line of men's toiletries. Max Factor is counting on Newman to convince men it's okay to dabble in face creams. If he finally does endorse a cosmetic line, the profits are likely to go to the antidrug campaign named for the actor's son. (Profits on the Paul Newman salad dressing -- $4 million in three years -- have been donated to charity.) A Rose by Any Other Name . . .
The sweet smell of success attracts curious names. Yves Saint Laurent's whoppingly successful fragrance is named Opium; Calvin Klein's popular scent is called Obsession. Not to be outdone, Christian Dior is calling its new fragrance . . . Poison. Knit Picks: Tapestry Is Tops
It started a year ago with one sweater, a bulky, oversized wool knit patterned by Paris designer Jean-Paul Gaultier after a handsome rug. Although it cost more than $700, it was snapped up immediately by young men and women in Paris and New York. So it is no surprise that the tapestry pattern for sweaters is a popular theme with other designers for next fall.
Keith Varty, the young English designer for the Italian firm Byblos, studied Turkish kilims for his sweater patterns. Joseph Ettedguie, for his stores Joseph Tricot, turned to the tapestries in the Victoria & Albert Museum for inspiration for his pullovers. American designers have caught on to the theme as well. Perry Ellis' tapestry sweaters include one with a knitted white unicorn. And Ralph Lauren's version looks like fine needlepoint.
These sweaters not only borrow colors and themes from carpets, but are priced almost like museum treasures as well. The Complexion Of India
One unlikely spin-off of the Festival of India has been the visit here of skin care expert Shahnaz Husain. The 41-year-old beauty expert combines ancient Indian herbal recipes with scientific techniques to produce Shahnaz Herbal products. She was in Washington last week to introduce her cosmetics and her book, "Forever Beautiful," at the Smithsonian museum shop.
Trained as a dermatologist in Denmark and England, Husain decided to rely on India's famed herbal formulas as the base of a line of cosmetics and creams for men and women. She speaks out strongly against synthetic beauty aids. "We have seen the side effects of synthetics with soaps that dry the skin, certain hair treatments that make hair brittle. It may be why herbal products are becoming popular once again."
But all is not accomplished with herbs. "If you are unhealthy inside it is bound to show outside. Seventy percent of beauty is good health," says Husain, who emphasizes proper diet, meditation and relaxation as a daily regimen.
The products are all packaged in handmade clay pots, "natural goods in natural containers," she says. "We cannot compete with the glamorous packaging of the West, but we can make something just as beautiful that only we do."