Thursday 25 February 2016

Travels in India, 2016 - Back To Black (And White!)

The BBC warned us that we'd need big coats and sunglasses yesterday and they were right, glorious sunshine and icy cold temperatures were the order of the day, so out came the 1950s fake fur and massive 1970s specs for our weekly chazzing trip.

1950s fake fur (from my friends Lynn & Phil, it used to belong to Phil's mum - see HERE), 1970s lace dress (my friend Nikki), 1980s suede boots, floppy felt hat, 1970s sunglasses (Car boot sale), tribal jewellery (India)

Did you think I'd exhausted the India photos? Be warned, they ain't over yet!

After our adventures in Mumbai we flew back to Dabolim, returning via tuk tuk to Palmira's guest house in Benaulim, where we'd stayed during the first few days of our trip. Ten days of sunshine and the legendary Goan sossegada (the Portuguese word for free and easy living) lay ahead.

The great thing about Benaulim is its close proximity to Margao, Goa's atmospheric second city packed with crumbling Portuguese-era buildings and dusty side streets. The bus from Benaulim to Margao takes 20 minutes and costs 10p so we'd often spend a couple of hours here in the morning, exploring the streets, wandering around the covered market, drinking lime sodas in colonial-style cafes and haggling for bargains.

Although street life in India is usually a riot of colour, I thought I'd capture Margao in black and white, how it would have looked in the pre-1960s tourist photos, back in the days of Portuguese rule.

This sexy beast of a car was imported from California by the young man who owned it. There's a growing passion for vintage cars amongst Goa's young and hip.

Jon was excited to spot these two beauties as he's owned both Moggies (Morris Minors) and VW Beetles in the past.

We spent hours in the legendary Golden Heart (and bought some interesting things). Some of the books were so dusty they must have been there since it opened in the 1940s.

An elderly man ran this fascinating market stall, packed to the ceiling with rubbish he'd rescued and recycled into useful household objects. I bought a couple of things from him but our India purchases are going to have to have a post of their own.

Goan sausages are a sight to behold. Festooning the market stalls like endless strings of giant-sized red beads. Uncooked they smell wonderful but Jon reckons that in reality they taste like damp dishcloths. He once ordered some in a beach shack and was so repulsed by the flavour that he offered them to a pack of starving stray dogs, who also refused to eat them.

As a child I vividly remember these beautiful 1960s plaster mannequins in Walsall's sari emporiums now long gone and replaced by bland Western-looking dummies. Good to see them still in use in Margao.

Mr MK Loteker, the advocate with an office at the top of the building, had a prime viewing spot of Margao's market. He seemed to spend most of his time sipping chai from his balcony and waving at us.

No trip to Margao is complete without the obligatory snack stop. Jon's having puri bhaji (spicy veggie stew with hollow pastry discs) with masala chai at Hotel Prasad, a friendly local canteen opposite the market temple. I don't think they had many foreign visitors as the waiters all came out to watch us eat,  anxiously giving us a hesitant thumbs up at every mouthful. 

A coconut fenni seller. Not a drink we're particularly fond of but its marginally better than the oily cashew fenni, which is like drinking paraffin.

Ambassadors are still the taxis of choice, they look fantastic but, for long journeys, the suspension is hell on your back.

In the UK these 1950s bone shakers would have been chucked in the skip and replaced with mountain bikes years ago. In India there's entire streets of mechanics who lovingly repair them and make them roadworthy again.

Sadly the printing press has long gone. Where does one get one's mortuary cards printed nowadays?

Ghaat was released in 2012 (but the poster was still up) and was filmed entirely on location in Goa. Apparently the director's wife pawned her gold to make his dream of making a film a reality.

Hope you enjoyed your trip. There's more to follow. More Margao pictures HERE.

We'll be trading with the wonderful Judy's in Liverpool (see HERE) on Saturday and back on home ground with our marvelous mates in Moseley (see HERE) on Sunday. We've got some amazing newly found vintage stock, all freshly laundered and waiting to be ironed, which I'd better go and get on with.

See you soon!

Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday and Judith for March's Hat Attack.

Monday 22 February 2016

Greensleeves - My Hippy-tastic Wardrobe Refashion

You've probably noticed that I've got a thing for sleeves of the bastard massive variety.

After my weekly eBay search for all things hippy and vintage with huge sleeves and coming up with dresses undeniably stunning but ludicrously expensive (£495 for a handmade cotton dress!) I thought I'd make do with what I already owned.

I bought this Indian block printed maxi dress from Moseley Vintage Fair back in 2014. Although I loved the gauzy cotton fabric it never felt quite right, the skirt was too voluminous and overly long & the shirred bodice wasn't great. As the poor thing had languished unworn in the wardrobe for almost two years it was well and truly in need of a makeover.

I chopped off the offending bodice, removed a couple of panels from the skirt to form sleeves, added a zip and some elastic to the top of the skirt, using it to form the main body of the dress, hemmed and elasticated the sleeves and sewed them to the top of the skirt. It took about an hour (but I've got to give it another going over, Stephen Squirrel's pointed out that, in my haste to get into Walsall, I've sewn one of the sleeves on backwards).

Now I can get a thermal vest on underneath and it's short enough not to trail on the floor when I wear it with my low heeled boots. It survived a brisk walk into town this morning but I did get Jon to do the washing-up after lunch, bastard massive sleeves and mundane household tasks aren't happy bedfellows. 

Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday.

Wearing: Customised block print 1970s maxi (£10 from a vintage fair), 1970s lace-up suede waistcoat (Xmas present from Liz, 2013), Antique Orissan pendant (last seen HERE), Suede ankle boots (Schuh on-line sale, 2016)
We've had this weekend off! I've read two books ( The Rescue Man & Blind Faith) and Saturday's Guardian from cover to cover, seen the wonderful Bridge of Spies (again!), watched Trapped, The Voice, The Lens, a fascinating BBC 2 documentary about Rudyard Kipling's time in India and the first gripping instalment of The Night Manager (don't understand why Tom Hiddleston's a sex symbol though, he's far too posh). We've had a hilarious Saturday night out on the town with drinking, dancing and posing for random selfies with complete strangers, eaten takeaway pizza & chips and finished off all the booze in the house. We've got back to back fairs this weekend coming so it's noses firmly back to the grindstone now!

See you soon.

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Travels in India, 2016 - Elephanta Island & The Cat Man of Colaba

Check out my Indian waistcoat and prepare to faint with shock, it's the only item of clothing I've owned in the past 30 years that I've bought new, at full retail price, from a proper shop and not a chazza. Fortunately, at £8, it didn't break the bank.

WEARING: Rajasthani waistcoat worn with vintage 1970s maxi (from Curtise) with bastard massive sleeves (added by me) and a shedload of Indian tribal jewellery (collected over the years)

We've had to invest in a swanky new camera - India killed off our trusty little Sony Cyber-Shot. These photos of me are scarily sharp, aren't they?

Talking of photos here's more from our fifth and final full day in Mumbai, when we took a ferry over to Elephanta Island, 6.5 miles out across the Arabian Sea. 

One of the main draws of the boat trip was to see the Gateway of India from the water, sharing the same view as the Brits who sailed to India during the days of the Raj, and it was indeed truly beautiful (I shared the photos HERE) but on arrival we were blown away by the magnificence of the caves.

 Although we'd seen photos of the Elephanta Caves in guide books we couldn't get over the sheer scale of them.

 Carved between the 5th and the 8th centuries no-one is sure who created the caves but many Islanders believe that they weren't man-made.

They reminded Jon of a scene from an Indiana Jones film but I've never watched one so couldn't comment.

Apparently these figures would have originally been painted in bright colours. What a spectacle that would have been.

More photos HERE.

No idea what a "Prom Monky" is but these little sods were definitely a hazard. I don't know what it is with me and monkeys but wherever I am in the world they attack me. At one point a guard had to prise one off with a stick after it decided to climb up the back of my skirt and hang on for dear life. 

Don't even think about what that one on the left is doing with his hands, we've got the X rated photos to prove it.

A wonderful few hours of peace away from the craziness of the city but, unlike super-clean Mumbai, litter on Elephanta was a problem.

As usual, on our way out to eat, we paid a visit to the Cat Man of Colaba, a kindly gentleman who spends every penny he has on feeding the area's community of stray cats. The cats adore him (and so did we) and he appreciated our donation of a few quid to keep them in fresh fish, scrambled eggs and milk.

 Later we had drinks in uber cool #Social (if this bar was in the UK I doubt we'd even get past the doorman). As with many big Indian cities, foreign tourists are often seated together as, rather touchingly, the staff worry about us firanghis being so far away from home.

What were the chances? In a city of 22 million people we ended up sharing a table with Monisha Rajesh, author of Around India in 80 Trains, a book I like so much I own two copies!

See you soon.