One of the ‘must do‘ things on my agenda whenever we travel is to shop for souvenirs. I usually research about the local arts and crafts of the destination upfront and once there, I shop for artifacts and objects that are unique to the place. Apart from the experience of travel, it is a great way to relive the memories when you see those souvenirs in every nook and corner of the house.
This is one of the reasons I am not a big fan of buying and decorating the house by shopping at the innumerable “decor” stores in the city. While a few of them have good stuff occasionally, I prefer to collect pieces that are exclusive to a place, rekindle precious memories of a journey or a trip and help you recount the fond stories behind buying each of the items.
Here are some of my favorite picks from my travels:
Masks: from Manali to Madhurai, I love collecting masks. My particular favorites are a set of three “Kondepalli” masks I picked up on a visit to Hyderabad and a Buddha face from Coonoor.
Pottery and ceramics: This is my all time favorite. I never tire off collecting ceramic pots, candle holders and vases from Pondicherry. They have great textures and impeccable finishing. I found some really nice pieces in the hills station of Lonavala too. I truly adore the trademark ceramic shoes, windmills and houses of Amsterdam as well.
Brassware and antiques: this again is one of my favorites. Lamps, bells and antique pots in brass and copper have a special place in my house. Most of them have been bought on my visits to Mangalore while others are from Ooty and Thanjavur.
Thanjavur is incidentally a great place to pick up copper and brass artifacts. Cochin, especially Fort Kochi is also a great option for antiques though I find some of the stores unreasonable and excessively exorbitant
Stone and Marble sculptures: You get some of the choicest sculptures in stone in the town of Mahabalipuram, 60 km from Chennai. The shopping arcade in the vicinity of the world famous Ajanta caves in Maharashtra is quite amazing with a plethora of stores. I picked up some lovely green marble artifacts on my visit there. However, you need to have your bargaining skills handy in both these places.
Magnets: this is of course, one of my ‘mindless acquisitions’ and I pick them up quite effortlessly as they showcase the ‘highlights’ of the place so well. If not anything, magnets are a must buy for me on any trip. Compact and easy to handle and pack, they find themselves all over the fridge and cupboards once I reach home!