The Goan Shopper's Stop
Anjuna's Wednesday flea market is the hub of Goa's alternative scene, and the place to indulge in a spot of souvenir shopping. A decade or so ago, the weekly event was the exclusive preserve of backpackers and the area's semi-permanent population, who gathered here to smoke chillums, and to buy and sell clothes and jewellery they probably would not have to wear anywhere else, something like a small pop festival without the stage. These days, however, everything is more organized and mainstream. Pitches are rented out by metre, drugs are banned and the approach roads to the village are choked solid all day with a/c buses and ambassador cars ferrying in tourists from resorts farther down the coast.
A Huge Array Of Choice
The range of goods on sale has broadened, too, thanks to the high profile of migrant hawkers and stallholders from other parts of India. Each region or culture tends to stick to its own corner. At one end, westerners congregate around racks of new age rave gear, Balinese batiks and designer beachwear.
Nearby, Kashmiris sit cross-legged beside trays of silver jewellery and papier mache boxes, while Tibetans, wearing jeans and t-shirts, preside over orderly rows of prayer wheels, turquoise bracelets and sundry Himalayan curios. Most distinctive of all are the Lamani women from Karnataka, decked from head to toe in traditional tribal garb, and selling elaborately woven multi coloured cloth, which they fashion into everything from jackets to money belts, and which makes even the westerners party gear look positively funereal. Elsewhere, one will come across dazzling Rajasthani mirror work and block-printed bedspreads, Keralan woodcarvings and a scattering of Gujarati applique.
What one ends up paying for this exotic merchandise largely depends on one's ability to haggle. By being persistent, and cautious one can usually pick things up for a reasonable rate.
Even if one is not buying anything, the flea market is a great place to sit and watch the world go by. Mingling with the sun tanned masses are bands of strolling musicians, itinerant beggars, performing monkeys and snake charmers, as well as the inevitable hippy jugglers, clad in regulation waistcoats and billowing pajama trousers.
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