Everyday we would walk past women in chador going about their daily activities. The homogeneous silhouettes belie the colourful characters underneath: a mother playing football with her young son; having a picnic in the park with their families; a group of black-clad ladies chatting by the corner of the street and then boisterously extending their conversation to us just because we happened to pass by; climbing the hills in a chador with walking sticks and hiking shoes peeking from beneath the ankle-length hem; an older woman sniffing one of our headscarves (!) and not so subtly suggested we use some perfume (!!) – in our defence, it had been a really warm day.
Ever so often, a smile radiantly flashes from underneath the black chador, followed by ‘Hello’ or ‘Salam’ and then more.
So, don’t let the chador fool you. There are reasons why people wear a chador. But there are also practical reasons (like for protection against the unrelenting sun, or as a hand towel both for the wearer and her male companion – am not kidding). Don’t mistake those striking deep-set eyes for stern stance. Believe me there is a lot of wackiness underneath.