Bling is king as Bangkok’s streets come home to a red carpet welcome, quite literally, at the 34th India International Trade Fair (IITF) which has participation from about 25 countries. While ornamental butterflies, flowers and leaves make their presence felt through clutches, hair clips and fist-sized pendants at the Thai pavilion, a magnificent one-horned rhino sculpted out of iron wood welcomes visitors to South Africa’s stage. The trade fair, which has about 6,000 exhibitors this year, has welcomed South Africa as the Partner Country and Thailand as the Focus Country.
Besides the street fashion that Bangkok is known for (they’ve come with tons of hand bags and oh-so-many hair accessories), semi-precious jewellery is another element that Thai traders are hoping to encash upon. And even on business days when visitors were navigating elbow-to-elbow through the narrow passageways between stalls, they paused long enough to get some of that semi-precious jewellery. Studded with crystals, you can get a full set for Rs 3,000 (ask for a discount), other sections start at Rs 20,000. Says a Thai trader who didn’t want to be named, “The prices can easily go up to Rs 75,000. And why shouldn’t they, we have amethyst for good health, lapis lazuli for good energy, onyx for protection, peridot for luck and so much more.”
Despite the mind-numbing variety of options that fly at you from across different stalls, Turkey’s offerings (an old favourite) are a crowd-puller again. Mirror-studded hanging lamps (Rs 1,000-Rs 10,000), hand-painted ceramic bowls (Rs 700) and teapots (Rs 8,000-Rs10,000 for a pair) are up for grabs. The usual suspects — accessories designed around the Turkish evil eye, think intricately designed bracelets — are available for Rs 500. They have been coming to the fair for 14 years, and have always done good business.
While the one-horned rhino at the South Africa pavilion — it measures up to two-three feet and is priced at Rs 1,50,000 — assures buyers of a culture of wood craftsmanship, bowls and plates crafted out of coloured telephone wires should also be checked out (Rs 2,000).
Complete with beaded jewellery is the Xhosa doll. A figurine that represents the traditional Xhosa women (Nelson Mandela was of a Xhosa heritage), the doll is priced at Rs 700. Other must-haves include saffron from Iran (Rs 500 upwards) and embroidered wall hangings from Sri Lanka (Rs 150 onwards). Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and pick up a map of the fair grounds from the ticket counter.