Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The foodie explains the Goan fish thali

No visit to Goa is ever complete without having atleast one Goan fish thali, and if you are a Goan, then perhaps no midweek lunch is ever complete without the ‘xit kodi Nuste’ , apparently Sundays are meant for the chicken xacuti, but the Bengali in me wants a Goan fish curry even on a Sunday.

But a lot of travellers and tourists coming to Goa are not very comfortable making the deep dive into a Goan fish thali. The reasons are many, but one of the important ones is that they aren’t sure what is part of the Goan fish thali. They want to have a fish curry rice meal in goa, and many order a prawn curry and rice separately, but when every single table in the restaurant gets these huge platters with tiny bowls, you are left longing for the thali.

I understand , I have been there. I was once a Goan tourist too.

Fish Thali , Kokni Kanteen Panjim. yes seeing all that food can be unnerving

So here is me explaining to the goan fish thali , the foodie way.

1.       The rice: a large mound of rice is the main carb of the meal. You rarely get roti/chapatti in a Goan fish thali, but you can ask for it, if you need to. Rice is also called XIT ,not  pronounced like what the doo doo dogs do, but more like a ‘sheet’ of paper. You can ask for extra ‘xit’ but in most places it is chargeable. (I know in maharashtrian thalis the rice is generally unlimited portions but not in Goa)
Fish Thali Ritz ,Patto panjim


2.       The fried fish: shallow fried and covered in Rava, this is a healthier crisper version of the average fried fish. The rava adds a crunchy texture, and since I haven’t seen rava covered fish anywhere else (and I have had multiple fish fries be it malvani, Bengali or kerala coastal cuisine) I deem that rava covered frying is indegenious to Goa. They even fry potatoes covered in Rava FYI. Now the fish is always fresh day catch, so you don’t get a choice of fish here. They are generally the easy to hand fishes like king fish, or chonak or a pomfret.Many People from North India, are not comfortable seeing an entire fish fins, tails, head and eyes n all on a plate, they can opt for chonak or king fish.



3.       The main fish curry: now this is generally in a bigger bowl than the other multiple bowls. It is a coconut based fish curry, and small prawns are generally the sea food of choice . if you are allergic, do mention it prior to your order that you Do not want prawn curry, and they will give you another one. Mildly spicy , its best consumed with rice, you can attempt chapatti, but its not the same.

4.       Tisryo: Now this was what used to be my biggest fascination. The sea shells I had previously only seen on the beach were now in a sabji/bhaji on my plate! Madeof mussels cooked with grated coconut and other masalas, this tastes just like any indian sabji, except it has shells in it. The shells are NOT for eating, within the shells are tiny morsels of sea food the mussel. It is kind of chewy and rubbery, but worth a taste, and since it’s part of a fish thali and you aren’t paying extra for it, it’s perfect to experiment.

Tisryo

  Kismur: another interesting dish, for non Goans. This is made with a dried prawnor a dried sardines. These salted and sun dried prawns are crunchy morsels packed with flavour. Onions and the dried prawns are fried and then mixed with generous amounts of grated coconut. This dish is texturally great, and the crunchy coconut and the crackle of the dry prawns is a perfect foil when mixed with the rice and fish curry.


kismoor


6.       Some vegetable sabji: Goans never did master the art of cooking veggies. This one is either beet root, or cabbage, or bottle gourd. Unfortunately always boiled , bland and garnished with grated coconut. If it sounds unappetising, its because it mostly is, it isn’t anyones fault. I heard ones on a sanjeev kapoor show I think, that Indians tend to over cooked their veggies because in olden days it was a good way to kill all the organisms.

7.       Sol Kadi : The digestive drink to end your meal is made of Kokum a sour reddidh purple berry, which is steeped in water, tempered with garlic and chillies, and mixed with coconut milk for a bright pink end to your meal. Ilove my sol kadi enough to have a separate glass of it! But don’t over do it, multiple glasses of sol kadi can lead to acidity, and I should know .

This makes for the average staple Goan fish thali. Sometimes you may get another fish curry, mostly a teek (spicy) or an ambotik( sour and spicy ) fish gravy, sometimes a meagre salad of tomato and cabbage, pickle, and papad. Rarely , almost never do you have a sweet dish part of the thali.

A goan fish thali is your rite of passage from being a tourist to a traveller. You must try it once, and you will keep coming back for more. Why choose it above ordering ‘fish curry and fried fish separetley’? for one fish thalis are cost effect, second it is a single person helping so if you are travelling alone, you can still have a complete meal, without leftovers. PS it is always served for lunch, very few places will serve a thali at night.
fish thali at Kamlabai, Mapusa

Fish Thali at Goan room, Dona Paul

Fish Thali Antique Mardol , Ponda

Fish Thali , Maharaja Hotel Vasco


Fish Thali , Rancheghad, Margao

Places to try

Mapusa:  Spice Goa , Kamlabai
Porvorim: copperleaf, wood’s inn
Panjim: Ritz classic and patto, Anandashram , Kokni Kanteen
Vasco: Sheila (opp St Jacinto island)
Margao: Nanutel hotel, peppers


Friday, September 15, 2017

The anatomy of a Goan House

There is something very regal and yet whimsical about a Goan home, very European in its look and yet very Indian with the use of Mangalorean tiles on it’s sloping roofs. It is one of the most startling features in a Goan Landscape, especially for someone who hasn’t grown up seeing Goan homes. Right at the outset is my disclaimer that I write this article not because I have indepth knowledge of the ancient histories and workings of a Goan home, but because of an inherent fascination for them.


The signboards: even before entering a Goan home, a beautiful signboard consisting of a few tiles put together, and painted in the traditional blue states the name of the house. It could simply read “Menezes” or be a more elaborate “casa de Menezes” or home of the menezes, or could even have a quote or an elaborate saying, like “Me casa su casa”. These signboards are called Azulejos, which are traditional Portuguese tin –glazed tile paintings. They are not restricted to signboards or homes, and tile paintings can be elaborate enough to decorate entire walls or facades, can be present within a building or on the exterior, and can depict elaborate historical events and the art can be dated according to the centuries it belonged to dating back to the 13th century.

The windows: The windows of some of the Goan homes have a distinctive glass pattern, with small square shaped pieces of glass slotted within the frame.in the early 18 century, the homes used the local mother of pearl from locally sourced oysters, which were …. And fitted into the window frames. The light filtering through these translucent mother of pearl windows, cast an ethereal glow within the homes. With time these fragile pearl shell window panes became difficult to source and the expertise to cut and fit them also became a rarity, leading to people turning to glass window panes.

The balcao: Not to be confused with the balchao the red hot spicy and tangy pickle like curry, a balcao is in fact a open air seating, where the members of the family gathered to sit out an enjoy a cool evening breeze and see the village folk pass by, or even gossip with each other. These balcaos are present just outside the main gate, and staircases lead up to the balcao. The higher the plinth, the more the number of stairs leading up to the entrance of the house, signified the social standing as well as the wealth of the owners of the house.



Verandas and railings: The verandas are interesting parts of the Goan homes anatomy. They are generally narrower than the average balcony, they sometimes run the entire length of the floor, or might be restricted to individual rooms. These balconies were signs of affluence amongst the nouveau riche in the 18 and 19 century. The railings too were elaborate and decorative, first made in laterite, then wrought iron and in wood. Each home in the neighbourhood tried to out do the other one  



The painted walls: No Goan landscape is complete without the colourful homes. It is said that the Portuguese prohibited any home from being white, and only the churches and places of worship were allowed to shine in pristine white. This led people to use natural organic colours such as red of the earth, yellow from saffron, and blue from Indigo, while the green was a mix of the blue and the yellow. Over the years it has become a beautiful way to showcase their home rather than out of any religious compulsion, so much so, that even Hindu homes have started to paint their homes in vivid colours.




The courtyard: The courtyard is the heart of the Hindu home. While the catholic Portuguese were interested in showcasing their new found wealth and social standing by external beautification of their homes, the hindu preferred in internalising their faith, maybe in a way to safeguard it against outsiders. The courtyard generally was without a roof, and allowed the wind, air, and sunshine to circulate within the home. In contrast to the balcaos of Portuguese homes which encouraged interaction with the outside world, the courtyards were intimate gathering places for the members withing the home away from prying eyes. The courtyard is also home to the Tulsi vrindavan. Now most Hindu homes venerate the tulsi plant, but in Goa they held on to the holy basil, as a symbol of their faith, and thus the pot within which it was held became more decorative and ostentatious, even as the catholic Portuguese homes grew more elaborate.

The mangalorean tiles: This might have been the only true blue Indian entity which stood the test of time even during the Portuguese rule and thereafter, the sloping roofs with the mangalorean tiles. The torrential monsoons were no match for these burnt kiln roofs, which even till date grace many a home in the villages and cities of Goa.

Marcou artifacts and Mario Miranda paintings : A vibrant yellow ceramic cock, or a porcelain vase depicting a village scene in Goa, may not mean much to the untrained eye, but these are quintessential items in a Goan home, especially those who have settled in foreign shores but hope to carry a bit of Goa with them. Little salt and pepper shakers, which depict shigmotsav and the carnival in typical Mario Miranda sketches, are not just fantastic gifting ideas, but they also bring Goa within the home. the religious diversity, the colourful village folk, the fisherwoman, the ‘hiccing’ drunk at the village pub, all encompass the olde goan life, immortalised on fridge magnets, ceramic plates, ornamental tiles by Mario Miranda’s work, these now help make any home a Goan home even if you can’t afford the lavishness of the 18th century Casa de sobrada (double storied mansion) and can barely afford the rent on your two bedroom-hall-kitchen.

Museum -Houses of Goa

In my search to know more about the homes of Goa I found myself in a museum which is dedicated solely to the houses of Goa, in Porvorim. Designed like an inverted triangle, this building is like no other house in Goa and yet is an ode to the architects of yesteryears.

The entrance of the museum has these lines by the architect Gerard de Cunha:

 “Walk down a village lane and you’ll see that these houses are like elegant and dignified men and women chatting at a formal reception. The atmosphere is cordial and thoughthe dress code is specified each invitee is nattily dressed, colourful personalities with great individual confidence and swagger!and just as each party guestis unique and varied , the variety in the details of the elementsin these Goan houses is astonishing.”

This article has been previously published in Planet Goa Magazine. 

this blog is also part of my 'Being Goanese' collection, 




Monday, September 11, 2017

five things I learnt about Bhutan, without actually visiting it

Five things I learnt about Bhutan without ever visiting it
If the title has you mystified, let me explain; in the summer of 2017 my mother, father and brother decided to fulfil a long standing wish to visit Bhutan, the happiest country in the world. I could not. Being a doctor with a newly opened clinic and a mother to a less than 2 year old, it was not possible for me to juggle my role as a traveller, at that point.
But I thoroughly enjoyed their anecdotes and the pictures they shared with me on whatsapp , social media and I even received an old school picture postcard from them.


picture credit to Ekalavya Bhattacharya

All of this made me wonder at all those who wish to travel but cannot.

Today’s instagram travel influencers and even travel bloggers would have you believe that we should throw caution (and our responsibilities towards family and our profession) to the wind, and pack our bags for the next exotic locale.

And as a Travel blogger I feel my need to travel like a physical ache sometimes, as if I could sprout wings between my scapula, and take flight. Yes, sometimes the urge to Travel is, as one of my fellow travel bloggers put it, like a heady addiction. But unlike various ‘digital nomads’ , I as a surgeon , cannot be sitting on an island sipping pinacoladas and operate, and I do envy the digital nomads who turn up their assignments and even code entire gaming programs while sipping said pinacolada. And even if I managed a ‘travelling doctor’ post, what of my son who needs to go to school, or my husband, who even though loves to travel in small doses, is not keen on a nomadic life?

So we tune into travel shows, we watch youtube vlogs of our favourite travellers, and many of you have previously even read of my own travel escapades. We couch travel from our living rooms, and that is what I did with Bhutan.
Read on to find out all that I experienced and learnt about Bhutan.

1.       You cannot back pack to Bhutan alone: Bhutan government and the King wish to keep the travellers safe as well as provide jobs for every citizen in Bhutan. You need to book even your flight tickets to Bhutan through a travel agency. Backpackers and even biking gangs are also expected to have one tour guide travelling with them everywhere. There is also an existential fee of 250 USD for every day you stay in the country if you belong from the non SAARC countries. When asked why so, one of the travel agencies said that they wished to keep the country free of the hippy, marijuana smoking crowd’. Bhutan is an expensive country to visit and travel to. They even book your hotels, which is a three star accommodation, and if you wish to upgrade the fees is higher and exclusive from the package that you have already purchased from the travel agency. All the itinerary is also discussed with your guide, and plans of just walking off alone in the woods is not encouraged.
Add caption


2.       You can get your picture on a postage stamp and actually mail a letter anywhere in the world: I have always loved to collect picture postcards from around the world, and my brother used to collect postage stamps. Imagine then to receive a picture postcard, as well as a stamp from Buutan, and the stamp has your families portrait on it! While in Thimpu, head over to the general post office and get your photograph on a postage stamp. You can even send out letters to family , or just keep the stamps as collectibles. I found this a very unique way of reviving the waning art of sending letters. The postal system in India is also trying to survive in todays world of emails. How cool then to convert it into a place of souvenir collection and tourism. Imagine the revenue a country like India can generate from this idea.
receiving a letter from family, with their portrait as the postage stamp, priceless


3.       There is a village with phalluses drawn on the wall: Yes, the town of Punakha has phallus drawings on homes, and even a phallus restaurant, and souvenir shops. The paintings are everywhere, on doors, walls, and even number plates of trucks. The story goes that the divine Madman Lama Drukpa Kunley advocated phallus iconography as a protector against evil eye and slander.Newly weds and childless couples hike all the way to Chime Lhakhang the temple of fertility.  Well just goes to show how far people will go for their devotion towards Godmen.
seeing is believing




4.       There is a many handed and multiple headed Buddha in Bhutan: Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha with 11 heads and a thousand arms. My mother is an avid avid collector of Buddha statues and souvenirs from around the world, and I say avid twice, because once just doesn’t explain her collection. Yes, she has lovingly bought back a statue of the Bodhisattva of compassion, or the Buddha avatar of compassion. According to their guide, that when Budha saw the suffering around him, he was filledwith despair and aneed to help, so he banged his head in anguish, and in turn got 11 heads and 1000arms so that he could help more.
A must see is the Great Buddha Dordenma statue, Bhutanese architecture loves symmetry in its designs. Also worth visiting is the National institute of Zorig Chusum (handicrafts, sculpting,painting) 

the famous avalokiteshwara Buddha now resides in our home too



5.       Everyone wears their national dress in Bhutan: it is a matter of national pride that the people of Bhutan wear their national dress the men the Gho and the women their kiras. It is also highly encouraged by the government , infact they may be fined if they do not wear the national dress especially while visiting a government building or a temple premise. Making sure that people wear the national dress, promotes local artisans, and also helps maintain the identity of the small country. It also looks extremely picturesque. Infact my family got back a half kira for me, and I absolutely love wearing it, and have snce been following Bhutan street fashion avidly on instagram, the women are so stylish.
school girls in their Kiras

An old Bhutanese lady in a Kira

The guides who accompanied my family, all dressed in the traditional attire


So you see, there are more than one way to see the world. Yes, physical travel is the best, but not everyone can travel and not all the time. Some places, we must see through the eyes of others, and even for that you must have an open mind and an eager heart.If you read about your friends travels on facebook or see their pictures of their holidays, and all you can feel is envy and 'why not me?' then you will fail to share in the joy and wonder of travel. when I blog about my experiences , it is never to make tthe other person feel sad, but to feel inclusive in my experience, and feel some of the exhilaration. Happy travels .

PS. If you are thinking , wow a travel blogger who wrote about a travel she hadn’t actually been too, that is some dedication to travel blogging. Then like and share the post.

the customary food pics on foodietrails, apparently people of Bhutan love their chillies and cheese


(Pictures and inputs from Barnali Bhattacharya and Ekalavya Bhattacharya)





Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hop on Hop Off Bus, Goa

We have been big fans of  Hop On Hop Off ,tour buses as a family . We have seen the Brooklyn borough and visited Juniors cheese cake during our stay in New York, we have visited the markets of Sicily from the safety of the double decker bus even as we travelled famous lands of Italian Mafia, we have travelled on sightseeing tour buses in Barcelona, and hopped from the Sagrada Familia to the Camp neo stadium of the Barcelona football team. And so we were thrilled to see the double decker hop on hop off buses come to Goa.

What is a hop on hop off bus?
It is a sight seeing bus, which takes you to the various sights of the city. You pay a one time fees and can get off anywhere and get on at the other stop. It allows for you to visit many sights in a tourist area for a very affordable price.
These tour buses also have tour audio guides or personal guides , who tell you about the history of the place or the sights as you cross them on your journey.
Many a time they are double decker buses, allowing you to get an aerial view of the city, and really take in the atmosphere, without being couped inside a car/vehicle. You feel more connected to the place, when you don’t have any windows between you and the world.
The double decker bus at Miramar circle


The hop on hop off bus , in Goa.
We decided to finally try the bus in Goa, even though we live here, because my two year old is obsessed with ‘wheels on the bus’ and we even had a bus themed birthday party for him, cake, tshirt, invites and décor all matching the theme. I had wanted to celebrate the birthday on the bus as well, and apparently that is also allowed , you just have to book the bus in advance. (how cool is that)
So we caught the bus at Miramar circle. You may either get it at the main stop, or at the Goa science center stop, or at Miramar beach. Facility to catch the bus anywhere is available, all you need to do is call the helpline number. This was a huge plus.
The cost is Rs 300 per person, for either the double decker or the single decker bus. We availed the 15 august offer of Rs 200 per person. Always check the website or their twitter handle for offers available.
an upcycled red bus, I made out of an Amazon carton

personalised double decker bus birthday logo


The bus:
We took the double decker bus, and it was magnificent. Very clean, very new, everything in working order. There was ac in the covered section, but we chose to sit on the top deck.

Things I wish they had :
Since we have been on very many of the hop on hop off buses, here is what was missing, No disposable rain jackets in case of rain ( this is a MUST, since we were travelling in august) , the disposable jackets also make for cute pictures , and we have worn them in Newyork as well as Genoa.
Second , and more importantly, no audio guide in multiple languages. As I understand this is again a MUST. The website says that 15 odd language guides are available, but there were no audio plug ins near our seats, no audio head sets, either. When we asked the guides, they said they themsl\elves talk to the guests, and it is mostly in English. If Goa wants to be an international tourist destination, we need it in multiple languages, andI would appreciate the audio in Indian languages as well.
There was no audio at all for our tour, no one explaining about the various sights as we crossed. Ok, so we knew most of the sights, but a pre recorded audio, must go on at all times.

Now the ride:

We started at Miramar circle, circled around the first stop which is the Goa science center, you can get off here, for a quick tour of the science center which has a pre historic park which dinosaur statues, a space station, a planetarium (extra charges), a 5 D movie show (fixed timings) enjoy the crazy mirrors, and a labyrinth of mirrors. The cost of entry is Rs 20 which is extremely affordable and they are open on Sunday as well.
You can also cross over to the caranzalem beach and enjoy a cleaner nicer beach than the Miramar beach.
If you are looking for a meal at Lunch time, go over to a place called SWING which is situated in the veranda do mar hotel. (order for baked broccoli in cheese , and tandoori fruits )


notice the little ones Tshirt with the double decker bus

we watched the other Hop On Hop Off buses from our vantage point

NEXT STOP, Miramar circle again
Here you can visit the popular beach, walk over to the chowpatty which sets up at 5 in the evening for some pani puri and shawarma, or the Goan cutlet pao. If you are feeling hungry, head over to Miramar residency which has a very old school ‘mama made pizza at home’ and the fresh made juices and milk shakes. Would recommend the double chocolate shake. They also have a café with the Mirmar residency which serves cakes and small eats. Feeling religious? There is holy cross, at the right side of the circle, if you are on the beach side facing the circle, also a Hanuman temple bang opposite the beach side. Walk a bit further for a fancy meal at Fortune Mirmar, or a pack and move meal at Carasid (I would recommend the tandoori chicken sandwich and the chocolate mousse)

NEXT STOP , kala academy, and park by Forest dept.
Don’t get off, but if you want to , and have kids, then visit the kala academy and walk over to the lighthouse on the riverside. Take a walk in the forest dept park, and take a boat ride in the small paddle lake, there is also a childrens park there. eat at the For-rest restaurant. The sugar cane juice is allthat I have tried there and it’s good. Can try the pani puri wala stationed outside, I like his hygienic approach and he always gives me extra raw mangoes, when I visit. (thumbs up)



be careful of low hanging branches

yes, we carriesd the traffic signal themed ballons to the bus, toddler birthday celebrations continued

the mandovi promenade is a lovely place for pictures
NEXT STOP, panim market
Don’t hop off, unless you want vegetables and fish. This is a local market. If you are a foreigner, then get off, see a traditional Indian market place, they even have a big Mario Miranda painting on one of the walls of the indoor market. Walk past the fish, and then the vegetable carts, ask for the flower market, buy a garland for your hair or around your neck, for added ‘travel to India’ feel. There are no souvenir shops, and no cashew stores here, don’t bother shopping here. They do have a government certified liquor store on the other side.

NEXT STOP, Mandovi promenade and Casinos
You can hop off to take a few pictures, or stay in the bus and take pictures from the bus itself. Stop for lunch at the Hotel Mandovi, one of the oldest hotels in the city. Order the chicken cafreal, or a fish curry rice at their Goan specialty restaurant Riorico. Or eat by the riverside, by the Mandovi, order for the prawn cocktail, it used to be good, been a long time since I visited, also the calamari batter fry.

All in all we had fun , on the HOHO bus, can it be better , YES. Their serveices, and the route, and the commentary can all be better. But the bus as such is JUST like the buses we have riden across the world, and for Rs 200 this was a paisa vasool ride.

the mangroves, back waters and greenery



NEXT STOP, well there isn’t any, we drive to the panjim circle, with the totem poles, take a right to drive along the Mangroves , and then turn back at the Raibander circle, all the way to Miramar circle. If you wish , you can get off at Raibander circle, walk down to the jetty, and take the free ferry across to the river Island of Divar and the devaaya ayurvedic spa, or take the other free ferry to Bicholim, but be sure to take the correct ferry back to ribander, and catch the hop on hop off bus back to Panjim city.

So if you see, the double decker bus, doesn’t really show you any of the great sights of Panjim. I have tried to give you the BEST info, and hope you can enjoy all of that, but the bus, DOES NOT go to the Panjim church, neither does it take you to the fontainhas section, or to Dona Paul jetty even, or to 18 june road or Altinho hill.

On asking, they said the city has not given them permission to ride within the city, which is a shame really. They informed the single decker bus goes till the Dona Paul stop, but doesn’t ride within the city to the Panjim church. The roads in the city are too narrow and congested for the large tour buses. The double decker bus is not allowed to ply all the way to the olf goa churches, which is a shame because the new fancy highway leading from Panjim, Merces and to Old Goa, can easily allow for the double decker buses, but certain low lying electric wires have prevented permissions.

We enjoyed the low lying branches and trees along the road, it added to the adventure of the travel, but there is a particular branch which is so low lying, that the guide made everyone sitting on the left side on the top deck, move to the other side!! On asking why it cannot be cut, she said, since the mangroves were ‘protected land’ , but this was not even a Mangrove, it was a tree by the road. I really wish the powers that be, and the babus of the land make intelligent decisions while making blanket rules.

hope you enjoyed the ride with us

(This post is from my Being Goanese collection. There is nothing called ‘Goanese’ and yet almost every tourist who comes to Goa, expects the language, or the people or the food to be ‘Goanese’ ; The language is called Konkani, the people Goans, and the food Goan. So what is Goanese? My Goa collection of blogs is called Goanese J

Enjoy more about Goa in the below posts click on the text below

Visit a spice plantation in Goa

Monday, September 4, 2017

Travel stories from my jewellery box

I received an eclectic green Lizard earring inspired by the architecture of Gaudi, from my aunts travels to Barcelona, and as I opened my jewellery box to safely stash it away, bits and baubles from my and my families travels vied for my attention.

Bringing back souvenirs from our travels , and the more popular ones have been fridge magnets, and I have written a post on all the magnets from around the world on our refrigerator HERE, and since a child I have been collecting picture postcards, the collection is so huge that honestly I am terrified to even venture on writing a magnum opus blog post on that. But I had never considered my jewellery box to be a treasure trove of memories from travels.



So one lazy Sunday, I picked out a few pieces from around the globe to share with you.

1.       The Gold coated orchid from Singapore: This was one of the first pieces of jewellery I ever bought on my own, and it hadn’t come cheap. But just outside the orchid flower greenhouse at the Jurong Bird Park at Singapore, was the souvenir shop, and the nice lady showed me ten ways to wear this neck piece, and she said it was a REAL orchid, which had been Gold plated. Now how cool is that, so I kept the tour guide waiting while I struggled with my need for bling, versus saving my dollars. I am glad for this purchase, for it is over ten years old.



2.       The multi-coloured bead earrings from Kenya: my mother had gone for a conference to Kenya, and she said that even the senior consulting doctors wore bright coloured bead jewellery. It must be the arid tropics, which bring out the colourful attire of people. African bead jewellery, how cool is that! This too is from ten years back.



3.       Jhumkas from Jaipur: Jaipur colourful earrings were a staple with me in college. And even though one could get them in various other places in India, there is no place like rajasthan for the bright coloured Jhumkas.


4.       The azulejo inspired earrings and ring from Lisbon: Another one from my mothers conference travels , but precious to me also because living in Goa, I see a lot of Portuguese inspired art here. The azulejos are seen adorning outsides of houses, and even in churches and museums, and to be able to wear the art in the form of jewellery , and a part of a cultural exchange was really special. Azulejos are painted tiles, in indigo, signifying the indigo trade as well as the sea faring Portuguese.



5.       The Star spangled earrings and the dice earrings from Lasvegas: nothing says USA like star spangled earrings in the colours of their flag, and the cute dice earrings are a throw back to the game of chance at the Las Vegas casinos. (read about when I met Hillary and Kim Kardashian)


6.       Red and green earrings from Leh ladakh as well, a bracelet with Buddhist chant:The chant Om, mani, padme, hum is very special to me. You might know it as the colourful prayer flags that almost every Buddhist temple /monastery has. Or even on the prayer wheels. I used to listen to it during my pregnancy, as well, as to put my child to bed, as a sleep rhyme. To have it on a bracelet makes me feel like wearing a lucky talisman.



7.       Red and green matching neck piece: I love my jewellery from Leh Ladakh so much, that when my family travelled to Bhutan, I specifically asked them to search for something to complete the ensemble. They are now a part of a treasured set.



8.       Evil eye earrings from Istanbul: I know they are THE most over done touristy thing ever to get back evil eye jewellery from Istanbul, , and I got back a LOT LOT of stuff. Yes neckpieces and key chains, and I think bracelets, and wall hangings all with the evil eye. But, They are so cute and go with all denims.Did you know Istanbul has an asian part and a Europen part, and the Asian part is way cooler than European? I have been there and eaten to tell the tale


9.       Kettle earrings from London: Now how cute are these! Brought back from my brothers travels, they signify the british love for chai brewed in a tea pot, and have the union jack on them, and is also my foodie earrings, in the sense the atleast have something related to a food item on them J


10.   Mother of pearl earrings from Kanyakumari: every sea shore place on the east coast of India sells shell earrings and jewellery, and funnily, none of the sea shore places on the west coast sell them. Hmm, so I do have memories of buying jewellery from digha as a kid, and I have humongously large earrings as well, when I was in college, the ginormous shell ones, but off late I stick to the more wearable sedate variety. And I couldn’t find any of my more “I am on a beach and will wear shells” jewellery, but 15 odd years back, I had an enviable collection of them.


11.   Terracotta from West Bengal: I had terracotta jewellery in every shape and colour; some with paintings on them , others with elaborate village scenes, and they are so affordable, at just 150 Rs a set, that even when one gets lost, or broken, one doesn’t mind. And I guess that happened to a lot of mine. Which makes me value them more now, in hindsight. Made of clay, and handpainted painstakingly, these are elegant, and timeless part of our culture.


12.   Cultured pearls, and blingy bangles from Hyderabad: Hyderabad is famous for it’s wide variety of cultured pearls, and I have been conned into buying a very expensive set once for a princely sum of 2500 10 years or so back, when I pretty much earned that amount in a month. But what I rememeber the most is the churi bazaar, near char minar, the colours, the sparkle, and the combinations,and again so versatile,wearable and affordable;what else could a girl want.

13.   The green lizard from Barcelona: Gaudi was a genius, if you haven’t seen Sagrad Familia, then it MUST be on your list of to do things in this life time. Psychedelic, eccentric, and whimsical, the entire Barcelona, is like a canvas for Architecture by Gaudi, and these lizards in their mosaic, would have made Gaudi proud. We loved Barcelona so much, we were narly stranded in the city when we almost missed our ship, read all about it HERE .


14.   Hand of Fatima from Tunisia: this one is special, because the shop owner gave it to me for free. We were on a Mediterranean cruise with mostly Europeans, and when we landed in Tunisia and in a market place no less, they were all wary of bargaining, but my true Indian blood leaped to the challenge and before long we were in the middle of a haggling match, and a small group of spectators gathered. 30 . no 10….ok I give for 25… no 10 … and it went on till, I got a beautiful blue and white painted porcein, hand of Fatima cutlery set, for 15 dollars, and he threw in the pendant for free. J read more about our cruise HERE.

15. My mom decided to share her collection of pendants when she heard about the post. her gemstone Srilanka flag and the green Jade Buddha from Nepal are also from her travels.

I have plenty more where that came from. My kiwiw earrings and the kangaroo pendant from Dad's trip to Newzealand and Australia, or a blown glass Murano glass pendant from my uncle's trip to Venice. 
Yes, we are a family of travellers (and gifters, and collectors), to celebrate my families travels I have a blog post where the women in the family share their travel kit tips, and it has some nifty tips, read it HERE. :) 
Until them I hope you rummage through your own Jewellery box, in search of treasures from your travels. and if you are a guy reading this, then kudos on reading thus far, i hope you are inspired to buy more jewellery on your trips for your family and friends.