Besides the vibrant markets, north Goa has several stores worth checking out. Casa Goa is a stylish boutique featuring luxuriously comfortable fashion items by celebrated Goan designers Wendell Rodricks, Rajesh Pratap Singh, and Brigitte Singh as well as local artwork, silk drapes, restored furniture, a variety of antiques, and prints of Mario Miranda's cartoons (Cobra Vaddo, Calangute-Baga Rd.; tel. 0832/228-1048). Then take a look at Leela Art Palace nearby; with any luck, proprietor Ravi will be in. You might find yourself agreeing to accompany him on an exotic journey into some of the country's remotest regions, where he regularly treks to source tribal art. Also in Calangute, Subodh Kerkar Art Gallery, run by Goa's well-known watercolorist, showcases contemporary Indian art including ceramics, hand-painted chests, and Rajasthani sculptures (Gauro Vaddo; tel. 0832/227-6017). Each Tuesday, an interesting classical dance and music performance is held at the gallery (6:45-8pm; Rs 300).
Located in a 200-year-old Portuguese mansion, Sangolda is the lifestyle boutique venture by Claudia and Hari Ajwani, the dynamic duo behind the beautiful Nilaya Hermitage and Fort Tiracol hotels; here you can shop for unusual home accessories and furniture sourced from all over India -- from Keralan rattan loungers to Rajasthani chests. Attached is a gallery-cum-coffee-shop (E2-6 Chogm Rd., Sangolda; tel. 0832/240-9310). Design junkies should also definitely make an effort to visit Monsoon Heritage, a contemporary studio created by internationally renowned designers Yahel Chirinian and Doris Zacheres (selected as one of the 23 most happening designers in the world by UrbanO magazine), who pair huge discarded tropical trees with mirrors and glass to create exclusive design pieces for the (very) rich and famous. You'll find their showrooms in Paris and Santa Monica, but their main base (and inspiration) is right here (601 Fernand Wado, Porvorim, Bardez; tel. 0832/651-5298; www.monsoonheritage.com). Another unique duo is Sonja Weder and Thomas Schnider, who use eco-friendly materials as much as possible and create some very striking articles ranging from furniture to lotus-leaf lazy Susans and a whole range of wall objects and gorgeous lamp shades -- all of it available at Soto Décor (Sotohaus, 1266/f, Anna Vaddo, Candolim; tel. 98-2298-3321; www.sotodecor.com). Nearby is a fun boutique called Happily Unmarried (tel. 93-2512-2150), where you can pick humorous knickknacks -- strictly for singles. Janota is the label for the unconventional footwear of Edward Pinto (Janota, Adleia Aurino, Povorim; tel. 0832/241-2129; www.janotagoa.com). He and his designer wife, Angela, have a seasonal store called "The Haystack" in Arpora (10am-8pm), while their studio is at Aldeia Aurino (near Damian de Goa, Porvorim, Bardez; tel. 0832/241-2129; 9am-7pm). They also have a stall at Ingo's Saturday Nite Bazaar. If you love shoes, make every effort to pick up a pair of Pinto's.
Eco-crusaders should make every effort to visit Earthworm (264/79, First Floor, Green Valley, Alto Porvorim; tel. 0832/241-0871; email@example.com), conceived by a pair of nature-loving Goan entrepreneurs looking to put the hype around sustainable lifestyles into action. Their green store sells environment-friendly products (read: low impact, organic, recycled) and local crafts, and disseminates ideas on sustainable living and conservation
Finally, for bibliophiles, Literati (E/1-282, Gaura Vaddo, Calangute; tel. 0832/227-7740; www.literati-goa.com) is the best bookstore in the state, with tons of atmosphere, too. You can sit for hours in the terrific book cafe and read or browse or buy secondhand as well as newly published works, while at the same time enjoying a delicious brownie or a tall glass of chilled kokum (fruit drink). Ask owner Divya Kapur about any upcoming events like poetry or book readings and writing workshops.
Shopping the Global Village Markets -- Anjuna is the site of Goa's Wednesday market, where a nonstop trance soundtrack sets the scene and 1,000 stalls sell everything from futuristic rave gear to hammocks that you can string up between two palm trees on the nearby beach. It's a wonderful place to meet people from all over the world as well as Rajasthanis, Gujaratis, Tibetans -- even drought-impoverished Karnataka farmers with "fortune-telling" cows. It's a bit like London's Camden, but everyone's tanned and the weather's almost always wonderful. Come the weekend, Goa's global residents have traditionally headed for either of the two Saturday Night Bazaars -- Ingo's or Mackie's -- where most of the spending has always seemed to involve liquor and food. In Arpora, Ingo's is on a larger scale -- but, according to rumors, no longer run by Ingo himself, but by the owner of the grounds upon which the market was established -- and both dole out essentially the same ingredients of live music, eclectic cuisine, and shops galore selling semi-precious stones, paintings, books, clothes, music, and handicrafts churned out by long-term international visitors. There have long been disputes between locals and the organizers of these markets, however, so they frequently close down or relocate; best to ask someone local for the latest gossip. In any case, the more interesting markets are the local ones. Once a week, folk from villages all across Goa breeze into Mapusa for the Friday Market, where they set up large tables groaning under the weight of extraordinarily large-size vegetables, strings of homemade pork sausages, basketfuls of kokum, pickles like chepnim and miscut made out of tender mangoes, prawn balchao and Bombay duck pickles, a freshly baked assortment of Goan breads, all kinds of confectionary goodies like bebinca and dodol, guava cheese, and wines. Of course, the market is just as packed with mundane items ranging from knockoff designer underwear to masonry bits and cheap plastic slippers. If you have space to take home a souvenir, look for the red rooster water jug -- you'll find one in every Goan home, ostensibly to chase away evil spirits. When you're pooped from shopping, drop into Café Xaviers (opposite the banana section), which sells refreshingly cold coffee shakes and delicious Goan sausage with poee (flat Goan bread). Another reason to come is the interesting Other India Bookstore (next to New Mapusa Clinic; tel. 0832/226-3306; www.otherindiabookstore.com), which stocks up on academic books related to issues like the environment, agriculture, and spirituality. On Thursdays, there's a lively market in Pernem, in the far north of Goa -- it's pretty much undiscovered by tourists, so an altogether enchanting experience.
Panjim & Old Goa
For authentic Goan souvenirs, proceed to Velha Goa Galleria (tel. 0832/242-6628) in Fountainhas, Panjim, for azulejos, attractive Portuguese-style hand-painted tiles and ceramics. They are happy to pack these delicate items carefully so that they survive the journey home.
Fashion junkies will love the Wendell Rodricks Design Space (158 Campal, near Luis Gomes Garden; tel. 0832/223-8177; www.wendellrodricks.com). Wendell believes in affordable designer wear, and his store has everything from evening gowns to casual wear. What makes his collection stand out is the emphasis on organic fabrics -- his cottons are naturally dyed, too, using vinegar, onion, turmeric, indigo, and guava leaves, and everything is preshrunk. Then there's Sôsa's (E-245 Rua de Ourem; tel. 0832/222-8063; Mon-Sat 10am-7:15pm), a trendy fashion store stocking couture by Goan designer Savio Jon (who makes relaxed, pretty, summery cotton dresses and very elegant men's shirts as well as other young and rising designers. Barefoot -- The Home Store (31st January Rd.; tel. 0832/243-6815) stocks some beautiful and very affordable glassware, including some lovely vases in extraordinary shapes; they also carry homeware, handicrafts, and clothing for men and women. You can browse quality homeware, textiles and furniture at Fusionaccess (Dias House, 13/32 Rua de Ormuz; tel. 0832/665-0342; www.fusionaccess.com), located in a building opposite the Ferry Wharf. There are framed vintage posters and photos, cushion covers, wonderful textiles for curtains, and rather unusual mesh tower and mesh ball candles worth asking about. Broadway (1st Floor, Ashirvada Bldg., 18 June Rd.; tel. 0832/664-7038; www.bbcbooks.net) is Goa's largest bookstore with a far-reaching range. And, if by the end of your stay you're sufficiently hooked on Portuguese-Goan music, head for Rock & Raga (June Rd., in Rizvi Tower; tel. 0832/564-3320), which has a good selection of local bands.