India is a shopper’s paradise! Skills have been passed down through
generations and amazing bargains can be found. The range of good is
incredible – carpets and rugs, paintings, jewellery (silver, gold,
gems), textiles (fabulous silks, fine pashminas, cool cottons, sturdy
handwoven materials, not to mention fine gold and silver thread work),
beads, embroidery, wood (especially sandalwood in the south), stone –
including inlaid marble, pottery, metal (bronze, brass, copper etc.),
leather, paper, clothes, furniture, etc., etc…… It is also quick and
inexpensive to have clothes made to measure – or a copy of a favourite
that you have with you.
Places to shop are also many and varied, from street markets to large emporia, hotel arcades to hawkers.
Spices abound and can be a small and light gift to take home, as are
varieties of excellent Indian tea – eg Darjeeling from the north,
Nilgiri from the south.
Bargaining is an integral part of shopping unless you go to
fixed price stores like the Government ones which guarantee quality and
that a reasonable sum will go to the maker. It can be a good idea to
visit one of these stores to get an idea of prices before heading to the
markets to bargain! And the thing to remember is that if you think you
have got a bargain and the vendor accepts the price then everyone is
happy and it does not matter what the price was! If you go to a shop
with a guide and/or driver it is likely that they will get a commission
on anything you purchase: again it is good to remember that this is part
of the system and they may well be dependent on such ‘perks’ to bring
low wages up to a standard where they can better educate their children –
and would you find the shop without them?.