There are lots of souvenirs I regret buying. The batik shirt I bought on my first trip to Bali springs immediately to mind. But there is only one that I regret NOT buying: the lemur lamps I saw being sold on the streets of Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar.
I stumbled upon these ladies up in Haute Ville, the hilly part of the city where wealthier residents and tourist congregate to escape the heat and the bustle of the city below.
My attention – and my heart – was immediately captured. I loved everything about the lamps. The startling orange eyes. The woolly fur. The poor workmanship. Even the way the lemurs clutch their bananas with an intense desperation.
I can’t tell you how much I wanted to buy one. Maybe even both. But I’d just started a big backpacking trip across Africa and there was no way they would have survived the journey.
And that, I’m sure you’ll agree, would have been the real tragedy.
To me, to this day, the Lemur Lamps of Antananarivo remain the last word in kitsch. And not buying one, the greatest regret of my life.