bizarre shopping in Goa

No, you didn’t mis-read that title, nor is it misspelled. Shopping in this small fishing village in Goa, Calangute, just minutes from the seaside, is unusual, to say the least. But not for Goa. Or maybe it’s just my sense of humor that is bizarre. Regardless, I’ll lay out my shopping experiences as I saw them so you can draw your own conclusions. Remember I mentioned before that Goans generally seem be happier, and as well have a freer lifestyle than most cities I’ve visited in India? True, things are changing faster than ever, and the India I visit in 2030–should I miraculously still be around to do so–will be much different from that of this 2011 journey.

Where else would you see old India more vividly set against changing India than here. Arguably, the teddies in this picture are displayed for the tourist, but may eventually appeal to the modern young Indian woman. Who knows? maybe they have already. (Also, I see a very strong argument for switching to saris, as I’m tempted to do after adding a few pounds in India, since you can see they hide a multitude of sins–as long as you avoid being photographed from the side!  😀 .)

On a similar note I can honestly say I have never ever before seen anything like this in a jewelry store! I’m not sure whether you’d wear this spangle bikini in the bedroom, on the beach, or for sunning in the back yard? One argument against the latter two would be the diamond-shape tan marks you might get after a few minutes in the noonday sun.

Shops like these offer colorful clothing, including a rack of incredible bargains–such as approximately 90 rupees or so for a dress or tunic. Sister-in-law informs me one should be very wary of this kind of purchase, especially if it shows stains–as some do. Apparently some rich tourists have been known to bring few clothes to India with them. To make travel lighter, they simply purchase an item, wear it for a day or so, then shop for whatever captures their fancy, purchase the new outfit, leaving the old one behind in a dressing room and wearing the new one out. Some shop owners take the item and wash it (or not), then re-hang it to sell another bargain seeking (otherwise known as cheap skate) patron. Just as it is everywhere, you get what you pay for.

Temple elephants are no fools either. Rarely do you venture on a shopping expedition without encountering one of these decorated beasts of burden. (That paint must weigh a ton!) Without fail people like me want to snap a picture. Either the priest or the elephant–it varies–is happy to collect the tip. I ignored one after snapping a 35mm of him in Rajasthan, and was consequently goosed by the elephant. I like to remember him as an elephant with a sense of humor.
Nothing bizarre or strange about this spice display, and I can never simply pass by without taking a picture and deeply inhaling the heady aromas it imparts. I do wonder, though, what happens to the dust stirred up by people scuffling by throughout the day. There are so many of these displays throughout the streets, I wonder about its shelf life. How much of it gets sold? And how many days can it be put out without losing its pungency?
India is the only place in the world, other than the southeastern United States that I’ve ever seen sugar cane juice available as a street beverage (and it seems to be dying off there these days). I was tempted to try a cup many times, but due to its diarrhetic–no, not diuretic–tendencies (at least for me) I didn’t dare.
Not to worry! There are plenty of these places–bar and grills–around to assuage your thirst. I carried my water bottle with me everywhere though, so we didn’t succumb to this enticing sign. There’s no place that would have caught my attention any better than Big Pecker’s though. It’s hard not to wonder who Big Pecker is.

My next India post will capture a little night life in Goa–tame as it was, to the over-the-hill among us. ‘Hope you’ll join us.

13 thoughts on “bizarre shopping in Goa

  1. Hello Aunty :

    The comments about the masalas gathering contamination are bang on. These coloured powders are a great visual and nasal treat. Look good, smell good but I have my concerns about their being stored and displayed in the open. It is better to buy branded packaged masalas such as “Everest”, “Badshah” etc. Even these contain some chemicals that allow them to enjoy longer shelf life but lose their flavour after some time. The best masalas are the home made ones, normally manufactured by cooperatives formed by homemaker women who grind the various ingredients at home and sell through a dedicated cooperative store. It is recommended to purchase these in small quantities so that entire stock is consumed quickly while it is still fresh and tangy.


    • I’m so happy you confirmed that for me, Raghu! But they are beautiful, aren’t they. Just as the roadside foods (cooked streetside) looks so appetizing (as long as the flies aren’t about) I’m so tempted sometimes.

  2. The snippets made for a nice read. The colours on display on the street are enticing. True, they’ll lose their pungency. Most of the items on display are ingredients that go into a larger mix, not all of which are on display, usually available in raw form as in leaves and the like. Better still to actually grind them fresh.

    • It’s nice to see a “new face” here in the comment section. Thanks for taking the time to comment on your “home town”, and welcome. Hope to see you back again soon.

  3. The Big Pecker refers to the owner Anthony De Souza who is a good friend of mine, he also has a Hotel near the end of the Bagga beach road, the resteraunt is run by an amazing guy from Kerela called Ramesh. I had the honour of goung to his wedding while I lived in Goa. It was fab seeing these photos as they brought back many happy memories of my time there. 3 years in all. I have been back a few times but as you say it has changed somewhat and will become more comercialized as time goes on, sad but that progress for you. Thanks.

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