Talking Shop

They got mountains, we got mountains. They got Yeti, we got Sasquatch. They got exotic, we got...squat. Is there any better reason to shop at the Nepali Bazaar? Actually, yes: Because instead of copying "ethnic" looks in clothing and accessories like every store and catalogue in America, this shop, recently relocated to 2364 15th Street, delivers the look direct. But it does it in a way that most other import places don't -- with an unmistakable hook on our all-American tastes. That could be a result of the East-West union of store owners Melissa and Dinesh Shakya: She has the eye and he speaks the language; between the two of them, they bring the best of Nepal to the streets of urbane Denver.

Here's what you'll find in this Himalayan hole-in-the-wall: diaphanous, opalescent, jewel-toned sari cloth cut and sewn into billowing window curtains, as well as uncut swaths of the same cloth to do with what you will. Thangkas -- elaborate hand-painted silk banners depicting deities and mandalas so mind-blowingly complex they put all those psychedelic-poster artists to shame. Smooth singing bowls, carved bone chokers and fragrant cooking masalas. Multicolored, hand-knit, fringed and hooded cardigans to keep you warm -- but looking cool -- in sub-zero temps. Boiled-wool purses, mirror tapestries and bright paper lanterns. Melissa's own line of clothes, manufactured in Nepal to American specifications and including raw-silk wrap skirts with adjustable snaps for a snug -- or not-so-snug -- fit, mirror-embellished blouses, flaming cotton skirts with satin and lace flounces, and cotton low-rider pants with tie sashes in bright golds, reds, greens and purples, with big-collared tunics to match. There are men's shirts as well, a newer addition to the merchandising mix.

For kids, there are beautiful carved wooden rocking horses, not to mention a whole play area decorated with a fanciful chalkboard Melissa created for the store; around its fringes hang stylin' little candy-colored dresses with embroidery and roses, breezy south-Asian tunic-and-pant sets, tapestry vests, orange cotton overalls with ribbon trim and snuggly hand-knit sweaters in wee sizes.

And finally, although you can't yet ride a yak at Nepali Bazaar, Dinesh does run a travel service on the side, making arrangements for everything from volunteer travel to trekking in the thin-aired land of Everest. Call 720-855-1110.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd