January—People, Places, Events, Attractions
Forget the holidays: As any college-football fanatic will tell you, the most wonderful time of the year is bowl season. It has certainly been the hap-happiest season of all (at least since 1970) for Texas Longhorns fans, whose undefeated team makes a return trip to California’s Rose Bowl on January 4 in a for-all-the-marbles matchup against current national champs, the Trojans of USC. Texas and football, of course, have long been joined at the hip pad, which may explain why the state is home to more collegiate postseason play than any other, with the Fort Worth Bowl, the Alamo Bowl, the Sun Bowl, and the Houston Bowl a merry blur in late December. The cheering spills over into this month with Texas’ second-oldest bowl tradition (behind the Sun Bowl), the famed Cotton Bowl, where the Texas Tech Red Raiders will try to stem the Alabama Crimson Tide in Big D on January 2. And let’s not forget the East-West clashes: There’s the Division II all-star Cactus Bowl, played January 6 in Kingsville, and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, for which the nation’s top 78 high school players will meet in San Antonio on January 7. Are you ready for some baseball? David Courtney
A quickie guide to Hillcroft Street And Harwin Drive, Houston
Where discount shopping meets the international city. by Mimi Swartz
1—If you haven’t thought about wearing a sari to your next black-tie event, now’s the time: ROOP SARI PALACE has an astounding assortment of lavish garments that put D&G to shame. They come in silk and polyester, with bountiful beading and lush hues; you haven’t understood the meaning of “jewel tones” till you’ve been here. Too chicken to wear the whole ensemble? Split up the skirts, tops, and shawls and glitter in your separates. 5901 Hillcroft, suite A-1, 713-278-7667.
2—Next door is FASHION JEWELRY, a.k.a. Bangles! Bangles! Bangles!, a near-hallucinatory experience for those who crave metal Indian bracelets as accessories. Need bangles in carnelian or pewter? They’re here, at prices so low you can be bejeweled for any occasion. And don’t worry about the fit. If the bracelets you want are a tad small, the industrious saleswomen will show you how to apply lotion to get them on. If only pencil skirts were so easy. 5901 Hillcroft, suite A-2.
3—Both METRO SHOES and SHOE GALLERY carry beaded slippers from Pakistan at prices so below those of boutiques in trendier neighborhoods that you can get a pair for every day of the week. Colors range from electric pink and turquoise to more subtle black and burgundy. Square heels, jaunty flats, and leather numbers with pointed, curling toes are all here. Metro Shoes: 5901 Hillcroft, suite B-2, 713-266-9966; Shoe Gallery: 5901 Hillcroft, suite C-2, 713-780-4455.
4—Of course, any beaded ensemble calls for a beaded evening bag. KOHINOOR DIAMONDS has a selection that will leave Judith Leiber fans breathless—and furious that they ever paid a zillion dollars for a special-occasion purse. Check out the small bag in the shape of a fan that sparkles like fireworks on the Fourth of July: No bigger than a credit card, it costs $95 and will make even a pair of torn jeans and a camisole party-ready. 5901 Hillcroft, suite C-1, 713-334-8700.
5—Maybe you’ve been playing it a little fast and loose lately, and you could use an at-home shrine to encourage a return to daily meditations. The tasteful, understated NAMASTE has carved marble ones (hint: don’t try lifting these yourself), along with fiberglass Ganesh gods for more-contemporary abodes. They also stock a lovely supply of torans, those sprightly, multicolored door banners for welcoming friends and family. 5901 Hillcroft, suite C-4, 713-435-0007.
6—Hungry? Cross the street (carefully) for lunch or a snack at BIJAN PERSIAN GRILL. Light eaters might want to try the feta-cheese plate with crisp basil leaves and snappy radishes; otherwise, prepare to skip dinner and try the transcendent yogurt-and- eggplant dish, with a platter of the ground grilled chicken. A League of Nations crowd dines here, to the tune of American golden oldies. 5922 Hillcroft, 832-242-1500.
7—If anyone needs more proof that men are different from women, CHARMING CHARLIE offers more than 10,000 indisputable square feet of girly-girl merchandise that will make women mad with desire and men desperate to, well, get the hell out of the place. Look no further for brooches, earrings, sunglasses, beads, and “pashmina feel” wraps at prices that make it entirely possible to follow the most ephemeral fashion trends without feeling guilty. 6959 Harwin Drive , 713-789-5999.
8—PAYAL is one of the few, if only, local venues to stock glass (not metal) bangles, whose colors are deeper and whose tinkling against one another is ever so alluring. The chatty proprietress, Sonali Patel, is a superb saleswoman, capable of rummaging through thousands of boxes to magically discover just the right size and color combinations. Local Indian brides- to-be bring her their saris for the perfect bangles for their