Guest bloggers: Sarah and Julian Lowndes
Before we went to India we had suspicions that our tour guides and drivers might want to take us shopping – that they would have a friend that sells the best quality of whatever the region is famous for. We also had suspicions we would come home loaded up with a cashmere scarf for every occasion, not just for ourselves but also our family and friends. But we didn’t think there was much else we needed from our trip to the Golden Triangle in India.
We definitely didn’t need anything marble or particularly want to delicately nurse it through a holiday. It was Christmas, we hadn’t bought a present for each other and we were in Agra. Our first Indian purchase was not something we really wanted but it was something we fell in love with the moment we saw it. We didn’t want to show too much enthusiasm to the shop keeper (all part of our negotiating skills) and so with our best cool, calm and collected negotiating we became the owners of a marble elephant…which looks great on our coffee table but luckily isn’t sitting on a marble coffee table which they also tried to sell us!
Lesson number one of souvenir buying (and one we have learnt from previous experience) – it may look great in the country you’re traveling in and may be a truly beautiful piece of craftsmanship but when you get it home sometimes it’s entirely out of place and not your style. We’re glad we resisted the encouragement from the shopkeeper to add this to our purchase and managed to leave the shop with just us and our lovely elephant.
We moved on to Jaipur – a city famous for its rugs and fabric. We were very clear with each other that the only thing we were buying was scarves. We had enough rugs and linen. This time we took our drivers suggestion and were taken to his friend’s factory. It can feel a little awkward when you’re in the back room, being plied with free chai and there are three people unrolling every rug and piece of fabric in sight set on finding one you will want to buy. But it was here we learnt lesson number two – you can always leave without opening your wallet, it may just take a few assurances that you definitely don’t want a rug - and try not to feel guilty about all of the folding and re-rolling of rugs that is taking place behind you!
With one more day to go we surprised our driver and asked for a shopping suggestion. Embracing the time out from the heat of the day and the organised chaos on the streets, we were back in the depths of a showroom drinking more chai. With rug after rug being unfurled in front of us they could see they hadn’t quite found the right one for us, then they changed tack and brought out their cashmere, revealing the softest, most delicate bed throw designed for (an unnamed) luxury brand. Which brought us to lesson number three – don’t pass up something that you love, even if it’s not what you expected to buy and more than you thought you would (or should) pay. You probably won’t find something similar and you never know if you’ll be coming back, and for us every day when we see our marble elephant on our coffee table and cashmere throw on our bed it brings back memories of our incredible trip to India.
And lesson number four – You can let your driver and guides know how much or how little shopping you want to do – they really do know great places for shopping and often their friend does sell the best quality!
Sarah and Julian travelled on our 9 Day Golden Triangle of India tour. They had a wonderful time, made great friends, did some shopping and enjoyed the sights of Delhi, Jaipur, the Taj Mahal and Ranthambhore.
Thanks heaps for sharing your adventures and photos with us Sarah and Julian, we really enjoyed and appreciate it.