Shake out your rucksack, rummage through your drawers and have a good long look at your shelves. If like me you see an abundance of discarded and dusty souvenirs then you are a sucker for what I like to call ‘tut’ – those much cherished impulse items brought on holiday that hold little sentimental or practical use. The set of maracas that never get shaken, the chopstick set which never gets used and the straw boater that only comes out for fancy dress.
What is the problem? Do these trusty items not provide endless hours of enjoyment being chosen and haggled for in markets around the world? Does the ability to create a toy car out of coke cans not require a substantial monetary reward? Why should I deny grafters worldwide the opportunity to make a quick buck out of my overly generous holiday spirit?
My problems perhaps stems from an inability to avoid ‘tut’ and the devastation I feel when my statues of Ganesh, Buddah and David stare down at me from my shelf full of smugness.
So how do we avoid ‘tut’? Step 1: Never believe that just because you only have two pesos left in your pocket you have to spend them! (My Cuban maracas are justification of this!) Step 2: However much you enjoy the victory of haggling limit yourself to doing so for important purchases. Step 3: Anything hand made that you have seen before in another continent is not worthy of your money. As much fun as wire shaped sculptures provide I urge you to consider buying more paperclips. And finally, step 4 (A biggy): Fake designer items bought from men sat on collapsible stools are never a good find, and always end in tears.
‘Tut’, I am afraid to say, is hustling in sheep’s clothing. Perhaps some will call me negative, and stand up for the long tradition of bringing home useless items. Yet perhaps next time you enter a market abroad you will stop to think of the clutter surrounding you at home, and maybe even thank me.