My tuk-tuk driver had told me to be ready by 4'O clock in the morning if I wished to catch the sunrise, so I had to wake by 3 AM to drape the saree and get ready before he arrived! Sunly, my tuk-tuk driver, who was also my new friend in Siem Reap, smiled as he saw me struggling a bit to get on the tuk-tuk, but his compliment did make my day! "You look so Indian", he said, as we started moving towards the temple complex.
I was a little conscious, and also thinking about how I would manage walking so much and climb the stairs...etc., etc!
But I was equally excited! Till now, all my saree scenes were confined to family gatherings, weddings of friends, and office occasions - this surely was a pleasant change of scenario! I still didn't know that the fun was about to begin!
"Indian woman always good in saree," Sunly kept mumbling in his broken English, "You look like them in movies, television!" I felt a little awkward by then!
The lady at the ticket counter also beamed looking at me, "Nice, Indian?"
I smiled at her, nodding my head.
And then, it was my guide, who enthusiastically introduced himself, figured out easily that I'm an Indian and then built a relationship between the Indians and the Cambodians, saying that we are all brothers and sisters as we are all Hindus! I was enjoying the conversation, as he showed me the carvings of Ramayana & Mahabharata on the walls of Angkor and in between, linked how Draupadi wore a saree and also Sita wore a saree! (Probably I would have missed out such detailed explanations if I was there in jeans & tee!)
My guide asked me (rather instructed me) to stop at places and pose. He was quite sure of his photographic skills and I absolutely followed wherever he asked me to pause! In the meanwhile, I also gathered the attraction of several other tourists, who wanted to come and click a photo with me!
For a while, I felt like a celebrity! There was this Chinese lady who approached me and said something like "Photo, Photo". I thought she wanted me to click her picture, so I tried taking her phone but then she started saying something more which made no sense to me. After a conversation of about 30 seconds, where she didn't understand me, neither I understood her - I figured out that she wanted a picture with me. "Hindu. Indian. Saree. Bollywood" - amidst all Mandarin, these are the 4 English words she used and was happily posing for the picture.