Goa shopping spree throws open the windows to every corner of India. Golden Goa is the 16th century was India's great trading post. On this idyllic island, one could find some of the choicest rarities of land, and of other continents too. Goan country fairs and market are extensions of the native's joie de vive. They also prove the best hunting grounds for a pick of colonial history and contemporary memorabilia. The golden Anjuna Beach, for one, is reputed for its mid week (Wednesday) Flea market. A bargain seekers delight, the undulating sand on these days becomes a colourful tableaux of native and hippies. airing their their assorted wares for sale. Choice is eclectic here: on a fortuitous day, one can get anything from a Minolta camera, a Yezdi bike, an imported two in one, swimwear, to ethnic handicraft from Kerala to Kashmir at ridiculously low prices.

Another highlight on the shopper's map is the Friday Market at commercial hub, Mapusa. In true, decades- old tradition, people from all walks of life gather here for weekly shopping of goody fare from sucking pig, liquor brew like feni and urak, Goan sausages, cashews, meat and farm produce, to native jute, leather, and ceramic ware. Both foodophiles and casual collector come away satisfied for the untutored visitor, shopping in even the umpteen Government of Goa Emporia presents an adventure and a dilemma. A plethora of items is made in Goa under the aegis of the Goa Rural Handicraft and small Scale Industries Development Corporation, and are available at the Handicrafts Emporium, Panaji, Tourist Hostels, and other souvenir hubs. However, a even in the Government of Goa Emporia. it is difficult to sift the real Goan McKoy from handicrafts and souvenirs of other Indian states.

The most important present specialty is cashew nuts - the states number are cash crop. They are available in a variety of sizes, whether salted, dry roasted, loose or packaged.

Heading the list of tradition art forms is the vast selection of terracotta available in Goa. Form Bicholim district in North Goa comes terracotta pots in a spectrum of size and shapes. Visitors can buy small decorated vases.

The more sophisticated may opt for intricately crafted garden pots in popular tortoise, pig and toad moulds. One side is advise to keep an eye open for 10 inch high terracotta figurines which like the cobber, toddy tapper, fisherman. Huge earthenware jars produced by potter remind one of Chinese porcelain art. In fact, Vishnu Mahadev Cunclienkar and Waman Zo are the two National Award winners for terracotta sculpture and ivory carving, respectively.

Terra-cotta miniatures are another draw, and a shopper could just take home a replica of the Abade Faria statue next to the secretariat. Wall Hangings in terra-cotta are also available against advance order from the GRHSSIDC office, Bicholim Industrial Estate. Giant garden pots in special moulds are also here.

Goan workers are known for their artistry in lacquer items. Wooden articles are lacquered in festive colours like red, green, yellow and white by master craftsmen from Cuncunolim, South Goa. These colourful items are called chitaris.

A delightful avatar of the traditional plastic tea-set is the lacquered toy kitchen set, seen hanging in Patai during the Ganesh festival, are available and include locally available fruits like the banana, cashew, orange, mango, melon , coconut and papaya. Pat- commonly referred to as planks- are low prayers stools, and are usually available in parrot design.

Creativity is also showcased in Goan Brassware, though a lot of brass items are even imported. Skilled brass worker at Corlim, Mapusa, specialize in the exquisite candelabra-like like brass oil lamps called samai. These ranges from the foot-high, four-branched avatar to many-branched items. Brass lamp- trees and storks are in fact a connoisseur's delight. Similarly, silversmiths and goldsmiths of Goa are known to the world over for their craftsmanship, nurtured through the centuries.

Those with a yen for fine handmade needlework can visit the umpteen Goan souvenir and gift shops. all homemade, they are products of months of loving toil, Crochet items range from fragile doilies to heavy single bed spreads made from quality thread, available in a popular 6*4 size. also embroidered bed-sheets, patchwork-quilted cushion covers, and batik bedspreads and cushion covers. A hot seller with foreign tourist is the six-meter batik work is not traditional Goan art form, it is produced by the Govt. design Centre at Chimbel.

Bamboo ware is another celebrated art form of Goa. In fact, the people of the Sattari, Pernem, Valpol areas are famous for their woven wall to wall floor mats. Since earthen floors have given way to cement tiles in Goa, the bamboo mat weavers have adapted their art in a novel manner. They flying fish, flying fish lamp shades, hanging baskets and even flowerpots.

Handicrafts, beside wood and metals, have received a shot in the arm since liberation, with the Government providing active encouragement and schemes for their revival. In this restoration plan, the Design and Development Centre is playing the key role of catalyst. In fact, training centres for skilled crafts like pottery, handloom, paper mache, dolls work and batik printing. Consequently, the traditional trade of handloom is witnessing a come-back, with as many wears engaged in this pursuit. The grand Kunbi sari is a Goan handloom specialty.

Apart from the vast line-up of traditional art forms, government emporia can be wonder troves of novelty items. A sampling of some of the Handy trivia one can on these shelves heading the shopping list are coconut carving, St. Betim and Britona are producers of attractive coconut heads, which could involve a bearded old man to an elephant head.

The institute of Social Service, Betim, produces banana fiber bags; table mat sets; coasters; fruit trays and wall hangings. Jute and Macramé objets d'art are other items which often tickle a shopper's fancy. From the sea port of Vasco is available a creative selection of jute and macramé wall hangings.

Tourist to the Porvorim and Vasco GRHSSIDC centres should also keep their eyes for some gleaming sea-shell lamp shades. A lot of raw materials for Goan mementoes comes from the natural wealth of the land and sea, as in the novel sea-shell memorabilia. The delicate white shell lamps here.

Porcelain collectors who fancy a cheaper version of the expensive, dainty Dresden China shepherdess or Regency buck, can opt for close second. Plaster of Paris carving is another skill of the land, and these figurines have a porcelain look, with period European Costume. Various other Plaster of Paris Statue are sold here which are cheaper.

Finally, Goa is spiritual country and its religious bent of mind is reflected in its shopping basket. Decorative wax and candles are prime example, with their creative options of decorated frosted and molded candles for festive and religious occasions.

Beyond novelties, Goa is a country of age-old crafts, reflect its rich colonial past. The products of many of these ancient crafts are now recognized as priceless antiques, and can be seen in traditional. Goan households. In fact, Goa has earned distinction as the only place where the artisans are experts in carving, jewellery and carpentry.

The pride of Goa is her carved rose wood furniture, which is often showcased in elite homes all over the country. The general woodcraft designs could serve as an archive of the country's history. They are predominantly influenced by Western style like Victorian, Louis XIV, and Indo-Portuguese, though traces of Mogul and Chinese style are also present to some extent. In contrast, lacquer ware from Cuncolim nerve-centre employs pure local design motifs.

An intrepid shopper in Goa may discover that all this is just the tip of the iceberg. Snapshots of the past and the present are just waiting to be discovered, and happy bargain is at hand with a little bit ingenuity and footwork.