I haunt www.baroda.com regularly for events / happenings in the city. The heading ‘Gujarat Utsav Shopping Festival’ caught my attention a few days ago and M & I decided to check it out today. I had a hint that this would not be an authentic handicrafts exhibition and will be more on the commercial side. I was right.
On entering the exhibition, which was held at the Hockey Ground, I judged that it displayed modern commodities more than artistic / regional. The vast area at the entrance was full of wooden furniture like swings, chairs and show pieces. The first stall that I decided to get into was the book stall. It has a decent collection of second hand pirated books being sold at Rs. 80 – Rs 100 each. Fiction and nonfiction books in Hindi, Gujarati & English were available. I picked up 3 books that costed Rs. 80 each.
Stalls selling clothes, cloth pieces, stone jewellery, metal jewellery, bags, scarves, ayurvedic products, bedsheets, shoes & carpets used up the entire area. The stall selling Lucknowi kurtis, cloth pieces and saris was interesting and not very expensive. M bought a pale mauve coloured georgette piece which was breathtaking and it costed Rs. 600 which I feel is totally worth it.
Some other stalls selling cotton bed sheets, curtains and cloth pieces were good too though we didn’t venture into them.
There were almost 5-6 stalls selling jewellery. Ah. I love them. Especially the earrings. The usual chunky stone and metal jewellery. These reminded me of Colaba Causeway. In most shops, the neckpieces ranged from Rs. 150 to Rs. 450 each; earrings from Rs. 20 to Rs. 60. One particular shop that I especially liked was a Jaipur Gems stall. It was a tad more expensive than others for the reason that his jewellery wasn’t made of stone but gems from Rajasthan. The earrings were marvellous so were the bracelets, anklets and neckpieces. These pieces had a very modern, runway sort of a look. My heart went out to so many pieces but I didn’t not buy on account of the excessive shopping that I have done in the last few years leading to shortage of space (and money). You must appreciate me for my grit. Me not buying any earrings at such a fair is next to impossible.
The last row of the space was mostly empty. Either those spaces had not been filled or the occupiers vacated and had left. A cottage industry stall called Khadi & Village Commission Ltd. had interesting squashes in 6 different flavours. Apart from the usual Rose, Pineapple, Lemon, Badaam they also had Variyali (Sauf) and Masala Soda. The attendant gave little quantities to visitors to taste to help them decide. I was confused as it is between Masala Soda and Lemon, when I tasted Variyali mixed with milk, I got all the more confused. I chose Masala Soda in the end. All the squashes were a bit sweeter than we’d like but we can use chat masala to spice up the squash and ease the sweetness.
Ayurved store keepers call M and offer her weight loss medicines and offer me skin care ones. M rightly says – I am in a good mood right now and hence am not reacting else I would have slapped him. How dare he!
I had been starving since I’d left work and we hurried past the furniture and carpet stalls towards the small food area. We chose dhokla over bhel and lochu since it was light. Atleast we thought so but the server squashed our dreams by pouring oil on top of it. I couldn’t resist taking in a whiff of the rust coloured thick chutney he served with the dhoklas and it smelt deliciously of chillies and garlic. The dish was yummy and the chutney was too hot (and I realized later that the chutney could be doing absurd things to in my stomach) but we enjoyed.
We wound up the visit with meetha paan at Khan Pan Centre which was decorated in a very lavish way which was almost Bollywood-ish. The server (dressed in a uniform) dramatically juggled the various containers in air, spraying garnish on the paans. The paan contained some sweet watery substance which wasn’t very fun to chew!
Overall, a successful visit as I did find a few steals. Had I not shopped so much in the past, I would have spent much more today. Even though they may not have authentic handicrafts, it would be good to frequent such fairs because there are good chances of finding good deals here.
The exhibition timings are from 03:00 pm to 10:00 pm and will be on till 9th of April.