Tag Archives: markets

Fun with hawkers and other top Goan shopping tips

Whilst it’s only been a fortnight since we got home, it feels like a lifetime ago already. Don’t you hate that? When you’re away, you promise yourself that you’ll keep that holiday chill and not let the small shit get you down then a mere 14 days later, you’re freaking out about… well, stuff.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last two weeks arranging the lovely things we bought around our home and I thought that my Goan shopping experiences may be useful to other people so here are some top tips.

The Markets….

Also known as the haven for a lot of tourist tat and a significant amount of MC Hammer trousers in elephant prints

We arrived after our long journey on a Thursday afternoon and were still finding our feet by Saturday so we missed Arpora night market which everyone raves about. Mostly because I hear it’s like shopping at a nightclub in the 1990s, lots of music, drumming, people wearing too much tie dye and looking slightly beatific. Not gutted we missed it as we went to Anjuna Market on Wednesday instead which is basically the same but you go in the day time so rather than dancing to crazy beats, you sweat and sweat and sweat and still end up buying a lot of MC Hammer pants.

The wino wouldn't let me bring one of these home
The wino wouldn’t let me bring one of these home

Anjuna

Because what you really want to buy in 36C heat is thick woollen socks.
Because what you really want to buy in 36C heat is thick woollen socks.


Anjuna

Anjuna Market is a lot of fun. Honestly. I generally hate big crowds and being forced to visit a “lovely shop that sells bangles, even big sizes for you lady”, but as the season has been so quiet due to the collapsing Russian economy, the crowds weren’t that bad so you could simply drift around and not make eye contact with anyone so you don’t get hassled. Amusingly, the ladies hawking their wares have picked up amazing British accents so they go from speaking in Hindi to each other to sounding like traders at Billingsgate Market. “A’righ’ love, come and check out my stall, lovely fings for you and your fella”. They could also hawk in Russian, which shows how dependent on tourism from there Goa has become.

Ice cream trucks at Anjuna

Kids MC hammer pant suit

One of my absolute favourite moments at the market was when a woman, trying to hawk her wares said “alright love, where are you from?” to which I replied, “Sri Lanka” (having bored of telling people London) to which she replied, “oooh, it’s cold there, innit”. So whilst it’s incredibly impressive that they can hawk in many languages, don’t go off script unless you want them to look at you like you’ve lost your mind when you laugh for a good 15 minutes after that.

We made it out of Anjuna after a couple of hours with only three shirts (wino) and one shirt and two pairs of hippy dippy pants (me). Everything is much of the same on every stall but worth looking out for Shoop Doop, which has great shirts in a variety of styles in interesting fabrics. The guy who runs it also has a shop in Ashvem so if you don’t make it to Anjuna, find him there.

You’ll need to get your bargaining hat on though – my MC Hammer trousers started at 700 rupees – I walked away with two pairs for 200.

My elephant print trousers
I am not putting my face to these trousers. But these are the trousers in their natural habitat. If you see me wearing them in London, please feel free to judge me.

Much more interesting and, I guess authentic, is Mapusa Market. This is on every day and is a local market (for local people) but with some tourist tat thrown in for good measure. Mapusa (pronounced Mapsa) is where you can find amazing spices, vegetables, fruit, homewares and all sorts of other things that you never knew you needed. And piles of clothing sky high. It was amazing to watch women making flower garlands from gigantic bags of heads of carnations and roses and other flowers I didn’t recognise. Mr Wino was at the height of his holiday illness so couldn’t smell anything but the scents and aromas – oh my. you go from overpowering dried fish to beautiful fresh flowers to pungent spices and herbs within a few steps. Utterly incredible.

Bangles at Mapusa Making garlands at Mapusa Dried fish at Mapusa market Flower garlands at Mapusa

These bottles were for sale. We couldn't work out why anyone would buy them, any ideas?
These bottles were for sale. We couldn’t work out why anyone would buy them, any ideas?

DSC_0014 DSC_0013

Other shopping experiences

During our stay at Casa Susegad, we met the lovely Helen and Colin, friends of the owners and part-time locals, spending a significant portion of the year in Goa and the rest in the UK. Helen has a shop in the UK and spends a lot of her time in India sourcing products to sell there (and the proceeds from which goes back to projects in India). As such, if you ever need a shopping tour guide, she’s your woman. We spent a day out in Panjim visiting many beautiful independent retailers and I spent a small fortune in Fab India on cushions and blankets and lovely trinkets. If Helen’s in residence at Casa Susegad, ask her for her tips.

Fab India

For me, Fab India was my stand out shop – it’s laid out beautifully with homewares, clothing and furniture that’s beautifully curated.I had my heart set on bringing home a Rajasthani blanket – I brought one in Kerala seven years ago but two house moves and getting a cat in that period of time has left it looking a little threadbare. The husband and I had agreed that no mirrorwork or embroidery would enter our suitcase (mostly because my 1990s clubbing flashbacks would be constant and never ending should I have that sort of thing in my house) and all we wanted were those simple printed cotton thin duvets. Helen recommended Fab India so off we went – and I somehow came home with four blankets, five cushion covers and a table cloth. Well done Vinnie. That was fun packing, let me tell you. Blankets do not crush down easily. FYI, looking on Fab India site, they ship internationally. Do not tell the wino.

Another newish Panjim shop worth a visit is White Brick Wall – this sells modern clothing with an Indian twist, as well as homewares.  I fell in love with the jumpsuit with the tuk tuk print, but sadly not in my size. Although, to be fair, the owner said she’d get it made for me in my size but I didn’t have time to do that. Sad.

And if you get a chance the paper shop, Chimanlals, is gorgeous if you’re a stationery fiend like me.

To end on a foodie tip, in Loutolim there’s a bakery called Jila, voted the best bakery in the whole of India by the Times of India. If you decide to stroll down there from the town or from Casa Susegad, take water – it’s a good 30 minute walk. You’ll get lost, you’ll pass a dilapidated house that’s been taken over by monkeys, locals under umbrellas to protect themselves from the heat wil laugh at the the tourists, you’ll think you’re never going to find it and indeed, you’ll walk right on by till you reach what feels like a motorway. And then, if you’re like me, you’ll blame the husband for getting you lost and you’ll have a little argument so you turn back to tackle the long walk home… and there’s the sign. On a house. That looks like a house, not a bakery. So you ring the bell, and you’re taken into the lounge and you are brought a plate of cakes for you to choose from. And it makes the long trek so worth while and you forget about the heat and you elegantly fight over who gets the last mouthful of eclair*.

Jila bakery Loutolim

Clearly, I did not take a photo of the cakes themselves because I was too busy a) drooling and b) scoffing. Sorry.

*Me, obviously.

Advertisements

Introducing Goa

Given the year of monstrosities that was 2014, we decided that we needed to start 2015 with a bang – and so we agreed to escape grey January in London and head to sunnier climes. Initially we were talking about taking a month off, heading on a tour of the southern hemisphere, ending with being hobbits in NZ, but then reality kicked in and responsibilities reared their ugly heads so we agreed upon a 15 night tour of Goa. I know, hardship, right?

I’ve been to India a few times before – when I was a kid, we did the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur tour, my cousin lived in Bangalore for a bit, we’ve family and friends in Chennai (Madras) and I had a fantastic girls holiday to Kerala in 2007 (despite the gigantic cockroach inside my mosquito net on the first night that made me want to run back home screaming). We wanted heat, we wanted a chill out and so, making like we’re crusty hippies in the early 90s, we packed our backpacks with our finest tie dye (read: matching suitcases filled with subtle shades of white and grey linens) and off we went.

So, Goa. According to many people, it’s well past it’s heyday of the 1960s and the 1990s put paid to any semblance of culture, with dirty beaches and angry locals and bad tourists. And whilst I’m sure parts of Goa are like that, I literally spent weeks before departure researching where to go, where to stay, what to do and, most importantly, where to eat so we loved every bleeding minute of it (even the bit when we had a row in our less than soundproof hut in our first location that ended with the wino sleeping on a hammock by the pool! Again, poor us, fights in hotels, hammocks by pools. Tough break.)

The one thing I didn’t do, was really think about were the stopovers in Mumbai (on the way there) and Delhi (on the way back). Bejesus, hanging out in an airport for 8 hours (Mumbai) and 11 hours (Delhi) can really make you lose your will to live. Particularly if every time you try and walk outside to get some fresh air, there’s a machine gun armed security guard checking your tickets and passport.On the way back home through Delhi airport, we had to go through 12 different security checks before we got on the plane, from the entry into departures to actual boarding. And queues. So. Many. Queues. And Indians have a very different queuing sensibility to Brits.

That’s all I’m going to say about that. Although it’s probably worth noting that I did put on my best 1950s teacher voice on many occasions to explain ‘THE QUEUE STARTS HERE YOU KNOW’. Which I’m sure was hugely appreciated.

We’d planned a two location tour, the first week between Ashvem and Mandrem on our own private beach (sort of) and then our second week was slightly further inland and south in Loutolim.

DSC_0163

Overall, we loved our Indian experience. If you’re going, ignore all the haterz (innit) and do your research. Decide what you want from your trip and you’re sure to find it. Our only ‘must-haves’ were not too expensive but with a pool, not in clubland and near good food and beaches. And we found it.

Goa is like the rest of India – it’s busy. The traffic is insane, people drive like lunatics but it’s rare to see a car with a dent, going with the flow seem to work. Obviously, there are cows everywhere, monkeys can be spotted in the trees, goats on roundabouts and water buffalo in the fields. Oh, and frogs in toilets and lizards in sinks. It’s all good.

DSC_0252    DSC_0366DSC_0417    DSC_0365

The people are as nice as you could find anywhere –helpful, friendly, not put off by the rude tourists who appear in the peak of the season.

The food can be a bit hit and miss – and is probably worth a blog post all of its own. Our main issues in the North were trying to find a good Goan curry, more difficult than you’d expect. No problems finding chicken nuggets and burgers though. Not that we tried any of those though.

There’s some beautiful architecture but you have to go a little further inland to find it.

DSC_0324      DSC_0317

So overall, don’t write off Goa – it’s an easy entry into experiencing India and will leave you wanting to see much more of this beautiful country.

More to come… I’ll try not to be too boring.

DSC_0254          DSC_0203