The Visible Hand

The effect of all those high-octane Western diets is very obvious in one way: I am a giant among women here. I presume that all tourists who walk into the stores here are followed by one or more of the multitude of store clerks who seem to sit there waiting for the sporadic traffic. But I suspect that they aren't usually the object of regard by all the other giggling, pointing attendants.

In a triumph of optimism, none of them can quite bring themselves to believe that no, their clothes really won't fit me. They go on all right, since I'm at least normal weight (I have no idea what heavy women do here.) But if they don't catch somewhere around the elbows, stranding the garment halfway over my head, I inevitably find that the waist is eight inches too high, and my not-terribly-broad shoulders strain the seams. The unoccupied clerks giggle harder as two or three now very worried shopworkers delicately peel the clothes back over my head, holding their breath as they wait for the terrible ripping sound. So far, luckily, it hasn't come, but I've largely given up shopping for apparel. My new focus is silk scarves, which even here are one-size-fits-all.