A jostling crowd intertwined with smells, sounds and sights of fruit, flowers, vegetables, meat, hawking limericks, the excited chatter of women, irritable children, familiar bargaining ploys and a consistent stream of colour – these are only a few characteristics of the local Indian market scene, inseparable with life in the Indian village, town and sometimes the city.
City dwellers have found solace in the supermarket or the online market— an international, efficient and organised experience, that balances the hyper stressed life of the chaos of an Indian city. The traditional market– the ‘Shandy’, lathered in dust, people and colour, found on different weekdays in the city seems more today to attract an older population, the poor and the camera triggering tourist.
Family ‘grocery rituals’ involved prepared lists for market day—a time when children sneaked in their candy on the list, when mothers found items that were adjusted within budgets, and fathers or help walked along patiently lugging bags.
Local markets, plots of land with squatting fruit and vegetable vendors, neighbourhood ‘mom and Pop’ stores, all imbibed tales and character. For the onlooker they were studies in relationships and the close interdependence between classes of Indian society.
Do you remember trips to the local market when carrying cotton bags to the vegetable market was a norm and one could learn a lesson or two about creative hawking of wares; when the neighbourhood store owners were ‘uncles and aunties’? Weekly markets, thrift stores and old bazaars offer not only entertainment, but adventure—you never know what you may find! You could strike good bargains and come home with storytelling hauls of goodies.
In our world of interior design, we are always on the lookout for old market riches, thrift shops and forgotten stores—places to unearth tales and their accompanying goods. And we have always found something of merit to cherish in these places whether in Amritsar, Mumbai, Kodaikanal, Kottaiyur, Cherapunjee or Coonoor. When you’re new to a town or travelling the next time, a visit to the market should perhaps be on your list of to-do’s. You wont be disappointed.