Claire Shops Globe!

I want his job. I want Keith Johnson's job very badly.

Keith is a "buyer at large" for Anthropologie, which is an occupation that takes him to places like Cyprus, Thailand, India, South Africa, and all parts of Europe to shop. Travel that's dedicated to finding treasures, for one of my very favorite stores. I covet his position every time I watch the Sundance channel show, Man Shops Globe. (I was painfully envious during an episode that had a student intern follow him around. She didn't deserve it! Pick me instead!)

It was Jason who recognized the glimmer in my eyes during our trip to India, standing in a market, and asked, "You're pretending you're Man Shops Globe right now, aren't you?" I just grinned. I've been lots of places around the world and usually look for a souvenir for myself, as well as a token for neighbors that are feeding the cats and collecting mail. My preference is to find something genuine and indigenous. However, it's disheartening that, for example, most of what I found in Australia was stuffed animal koalas and kangaroos, all labeled "Made in China." The downside of globalization.

In India there were many people trying to sell us their wares, and I was both relieved and admiring of the fact that oftentimes your salesperson was also the manufacturer. More than any other country, I felt close to the craft. Of course there are many staged handicrafts where you as the tourist get to pull thread through the loom, touch the raw gemstones, see the blockprinter at work, as a part of the show and the sale. Certainly, it's possible that the Delhi salesman who says his family makes the rugs in the mountains could be embellishing his family relations, but it's hard to argue with the sincerity of the seller's claims when you're sitting in his roadside shop as a mother makes lunch over a fire and rocks a baby in a rustic cradle. There's also often a lecture on the skill of the handicraft. We began to know the common bits of the pitch, like how small a rug/cover could be folded for your hand luggage!Jason and I coached ourselves frequently not to shop so much that we became one of those couples whose home you walk into and immediately KNOW that they've been to India. (No doubt like our home growing up where the years of living in Japan were evident in every room! Even after Juliet and I split the goods in half into our separate apartments, people would enter my apartment and ask about my connections to Japan.)

Coming home with us was a carved elephant with his trunk in the welcome gesture (which I later felt a little guilty about after Jason made a "looting Rajasthan" comment,) some small gifts like silk pillow covers, and two rugs. The elephant head was hand-carried home, carefully.I laughed when I realized he fits right in with the souvenir Japanese fish, which my mother purchased in Japan. Decorators do suggest putting like items together to create a collection. I guess I'm started in the antique carved wooden animal category.

The way that they carefully sniff every inch of our grocery bags, or luggage that comes back from a long trip, inspires us to refer to cats Teedie and Piper as "Customs." It seemed particularly apt when the rugs arrived from Delhi. I'm pleased by how the rug fits right into my workroom. From the salesman's lecture, I now know that pashmina comes from the chin of a goat. Teedie is still discerning these details from his thorough sniff-spections.



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