Photo: Amaran

Neighborhood: East Village
Type of Place: Shoes Handbags

I heard recently about a trip that friends of friends of mine are
taking: driving across the continent of Africa. No tourist bus, no paid
guide; just some people with varied language and cultural skills, some
extensive advance planning, some supplies and gear, and a car. Wow. The
ambitious journey reinvigorated my own travel bug--and made me eager to
hear stories from this particular pan-African adventure. In the
meantime, a shop featuring wares from afar caught my eye.

Amaran, in this location for 8 years, takes its name from an Indonesian
word meaning "imaginary flower that never dies"--and a trip to the
shop is fittingly evocative. Its merchandise is primarily from Indonesia
and India, and its feel is one of beauty and exploration; its lovely and
reasonably priced items will surely tide you over till you can travel
to these regions yourself.

If you're looking for new furniture, Amaran can help with unique
pieces. But I focused on accessories: hand-batiked picture frames from $22;
gorgeous pillows starting at around $24 (a wonderful one in a
tan-and-wine pattern is $29); handsome teak hand mirrors ($29); doorknobs
starting at $3.95; all-natural soaps ($5); and photo albums starting at an
amazing $8. Sachets are $3; journals start at $5.

Wearable accessories are here too: Wooden-bead necklaces from $12, with
glass beads starting at $14 and dramatic long strands starting at $19;
sarongs for $9.50; elegant sandals with flowers at the toe for $19.50;
bags and wallets in various sizes and (very fair) prices; dramatic
silver earrings on colored silk thread for $49.

I was amused, in my browsing, to come across a book called "Bar and Bat
Mitzvahs: Planning the Perfect Day" ($25). Not sure why that's in
stock, but sure, you could find a Bar or Bat Mitzvah gift here; or a
wedding gift, anniversary gift, birthday gift, etc. But shoppers' thoughts
seemed closer to home: "I'd love this on my couch," said one as she
admired a pillow. Amaran will stir your desires to travel the globe, but at
the same time it will help you make your corner of the world a little
more beautiful.

  - Pamela Grossman; Sept 23, 2007

109 Avenue B
New York, NY 10009