Having spent around two months in India over the past year, it has proved impossible to maintain my avoidance of the numerous stalls selling bangles, necklaces and earrings. Prior to my India trips, I had only rarely worn one bangle, maybe once every five years a pair of earrings and only occasionally a few of my necklaces and pendants. After a brief binge of buying gold jewellery in the Middle East (Bahrain being my favourite), India has introduced me to the up-to-date fashion market for “less than £3” jewellery .
The first earrings I bought appealed to me for their, out of character for me, bright colours and statement size. I have worn them a few times, though one ear objected to the cheap metal coating, leaving me with a fat, red ear lobe for just over two weeks. It was pretty much worth it though, I am sure I improved my posture, stretching my neck to accommodate the length of the earrings, and they were also much admired.
On my last trip to Mumbai, I followed through my “if I do no other shopping in Mumbai” plan to go to the cluster of jewellery stalls on Colaba Causeway on a mission to purchase some long, chunky necklaces to add a bit of excitement to my dull wardrobe. For 700 IRP (around £9), I bought the three necklaces I most liked, two of which, within a week, I’ve already worn.As for bangles, it’s surprisingly hard, despite being anti-bangles (noise and inflexible shape), to walk through a friendly bangle market without buying any.
I somehow bought 40 for just under £5. However, I realise that 40 was excessive and that my newfound enthusiasm was taken advantage of by charming and friendly staff, though for the experience itself it was worth every rupee and bangle. I have worn eight. The colours rubbed off on my wrists and looked like the aftereffects of a major defeat at Chinese burns, but still I wear them, the eight, and I actually think they bring a bit of joy and colour to my wrists and my usual dark-coloured wardrobe. I chose bangles in vibrant green, orange, purple and pink.
However, like people who are driven to desperate measures by neighbours who hang wind chimes outside their flats, the jangling can be quite intrusive, eg during a quiet moment in the cinema when trying to surreptitiously wipe away a few stray tears, I was tutted at for making bracelet-jangling noise.
I used to wear mainly costume jewellery, then I progressed to silver, then a brief foray into gold (that appears to have been an “ooo, shiny” type phase; gold does not suit me) and from there I discovered a far more realistic extreme; cheap, cheerful jewellery that doesn’t even try to look like silver or gold.
The kinds of jewellery stalls I’ve made purchases from have all been very, very busy with locals and updated regularly with new designs (the blue china heart pendant in the jewellery-tree photo being the latest look for February 2018), I’ve had some positive comments about my recent collection, nothing cost more than £3 and I won’t feel bad getting rid of them when I’m bored with them, they look tatty or they break. And so continues my accessory phase and a possible theme for this year’s birthday presents for friends. It’s also good to have an inexpensive phase for a change, I couldn’t have maintained the gold one for much longer.
Bangles from Masjid Janpath Market, near Connaught Place, New Delhi
All other jewellery from stalls along Colaba Causeway next to Cafe Mondegar, Mumbai