Category Archives: Fresh Market Narratives (36)

fresh produce markets, flower market, Sunday markets, country /farm produce, local people, culture, food habits, dress

Winter Vegetables at the Street Market

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Yet another street market? What’s different, you may ask. With a discerning eye and a storyteller’s mind let me weave the picture.

Off the main road in Karkhana, Hyderabad I spotted this weekly street market, just by chance. It was Wednesday evening. Gradually the vendors had begun spreading their jute bags to carpet their predetermined area. In the backdrop brightly painted two-storied buildings in blue, deep yellow, bright green and pink brought added colour to the place. Winding steps cluttered with potted plants, open terraces with hanging cloth blankets or bontalu detailed the residential character of the street.

A push cart laden with colourful glass bangles vied for attention. Glistening in the evening sun red, blue, deep green, gold, yellow, grey and pink bangles were tied in clusters. Even the young peddler, with  mobile in hand, sported an equally colourful shirt!

Ahead, Nagamani Amma a bit amused watched me patiently. Would I be interested in buying brinjal, beans or okra instead? Bending to pick up some winter beans I noticed her wrists sporting a dozen green bangles. She was a picture perfect! Red saree, a nose ring, large bindi on her forehead and bangles on her wrists. Traditional simplicity!

Winter brings in its bounty of seasonal vegetables – Indian broad beans (chikudkaya), cabbage, cauliflower, radish. Fresh green bunches coriander, mint and spinach – everyone’s delight! I couldn’t wait to go home and add fresh chopped coriander to my dal.

Ahh….what aroma.

No market scene is complete without carts, vendors, carry boys, busy women with cloth bags or baskets (plastic is forbidden), pop corn or fruit stalls and loaders scuffling between the crowds.

If a street has a spirit, no matter how narrow it is, we can breathe comfortably over there.”
― Mehmet Murat

In that narrow, crowded street, life went on as usual. Children rushing out of their homes to play, women squatting on their doorsteps after a long day, chatting merrily with neighbours, yet others collecting clothes from the terrace ahead of dusk. Was the market like an ongoing weekly movie? Was it a nuisance as crowds gathered and leftover garbage littered the area? Or was it easy shopping at the doorstep?

Weekly markets or grower’s market are a common sight in many countries. Each has a distinct style and produce sale. What is your experience and where?

All content and images copyright belong to Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

 

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A Flower Colour Burst at Monda Market

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”Flowers always make people happier, cheerful and add

         colour to life. They are Nature’s medicine for the soul.”

Marigold flower – Orange blooms

There’s no other market in Hyderabad that stocks truckloads of flowers for sale, except Monda market. (I don’t mean the Lilies, Roses and cut stem flowers). This market caters to the very Indian at heart – flowers for garlands, hair decoration and puja offerings.

Opening at 6 am everyday of the year (no holidays!) it’s the premier, overflowing marketplace adjacent to the fruit and vegetable market. Every festive season flower stalls swell to meet the enormous demand. Prices soar almost double and so do the people’s voices.

We went shopping early at 7:00 am. Mounds of loose marigold flowers, rose petals, paan( betel leaf), toran(door decorations), hardy brown coconuts were all being organized onto the makeshift pedestal stalls. Shopkeepers were in a frenzy ahead of the busy Friday morning, unfolding the moist red cloth tied around baskets to keep everything fresh.

There I began taking photos as usual, or striking a quick chat in the midst of this shopping maze. THAT distraction was enough to misplace my bag full of mango leaves and other puja necessities! Phew!

Today, being a puja day during the month of Shravan, loose flowers  were selling at Rs. 80 -Rs. 100 per kilo prices, higher than usual of Rs.50 – 60. Marigold, Aster, Zinnia and rose petals are in high demand during this time used for making door decorations and elaborate wedding pandals as well as puja offering.

Here is our hero for the day- A  young and smart shopkeeper with experience from his childhood days made a has been beautiful toran for us from fresh palm leaves in a jiffy. Just snip the palm leaf with a sharp blade, a twist here – a turn there – and behold!

 

 

How about some flower garlands for your hair, Madam? said this shopkeeper and wanted me to take his photo as he held up the jasmine and rose malai. The contrast of colours of the tightly hand knotted flowers and the perfume of  jasmine…..ahhh! was a beautiful invitation whether to the Lord or to a young Romeo 🙂

Heading to the adjacent fruit market, we bought 5 types of fruit for the puja and some paan.

Till then, hoping you will visit a crowded flower market to brighten your day and mood. Share your mood with us as you smell the flowers, wherever.

All content and images copyright belong to Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scorching Summer, Date Palms, Al Ain market.

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                    Sunshine all the time,

                    Makes a desert. ( Arab Proverb).

Driving past the sand dunes from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain city, last month when temperature soared above 40 degrees, was certainly not the best time. With a visit to the date farms and Al Ain market on the list… we had to meet the harsh weather, just like the Bedouins!

The drive took less than two hours, past the sand dunes in differing hues. Near the Al Nahyan Jahili museum, is the lush green curated (UNESCO site) palm plantation. With over 1000 palms and 50 varieties grown here, it was a blessing to stand under the shade of the fronds. Braving the sun, we explored the different plantations on either side of the central passageway. The traditional falaj irrigation system provides the required amount of water released as needed.

Expressway fro, Abu Dhabi to Al Ain

What a treat and unique experience it was as we plucked fresh crunchy, semi-ripe dates! Hanging in clusters of 10-20 fruit, the sugary fruit quickly saturated us. There were plenty fallen on the soft sandy soil. Crunch, crunch, crunch……and finally a burp!

Crunchy, fresh dates – best eaten raw.

The local grocer market at nearby Mina centre, is just a drive round the corner. The low-rise building was almost hidden from view. Don’t expect an open air souk, with goats or camel standing there. For that, visit the Camel Souk.

The airy covered and ventilated market area is quite large with shops on either side and a large central corridor for easy flow of customers and goods. The vendors are locals, immigrants settled here from coastal India, Philippine, neighbouring Oman and Sudan, but no Emirati shopkeepers. A friendly Emirati, clad in his traditional long white Kandoura, helped me choose the most succulent dates and nudged me into buying 5 kilo! ‘They are good, good…season fresh now’ he said.

There were plenty of stalls selling dry fish and sea food like cuttlefish, fish ball cakes, dry sea weed, fish crackers… produce brought in from coastal Oman and Kerala in India. These are a sought after delicacy among the Emirati population, who otherwise prefer camel meat and poultry.

Delicate woven straw baskets, aluminium trays filled with season’s dry dates like Barhi, Niloufer and local Al Ain specialties were aplenty. Most vendors were Keralites who had settled here many years ago, working on farms owned by locals.

I struck a good bargain, as a fellow Indian and offered AED 13 Dirham per kilo. These dates he explained ‘were season’s fresh, not dipped in any sugar syrup and unprocessed. And no packaging too’. He offered me 3-4 different varieties of dates to taste. There… I was burping again!

It was time to refresh with some cool Labaan, a popular yoghurt drink with enough salts and dairy to refresh you on a hot day. Small air-conditioned shops nearby catered to needs of the shopkeepers and buyers. Fresh vegetables like lettuce, mint, coriander, green leafy vegetables and bananas, melons and papaya – mostly grown in nearby greenhouse farms made their way to this market. The refrigerator kiosk was filled with dairy products.

Carrying plastic bags filled with fresh dates for friends and family, it was time to bid goodbye to the city market. We left richer – with bag loads of fruit and a deeper knowledge of the summer conditions that ripen the fruit. Locals briefed us about the nutritional content and importance of providing sustenance to those tired, weary desert Bedouins. No wonder then Mother Maryam was advised to ”shake that palm towards you, and the dates will fall and feed you” as mentioned in the Holy book.

 

Have you been to a date plantation ? Share your experience. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Lover’s Paradise: Koti Book Market

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Book Lover’s Paradise: Koti Book Market

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.   

Charles William Eliot

 

Have you every visited a heritage family home? Faded plastered walls, hanging chandeliers, wooden round tables and above all… smelled the lingering musty, rich smell of books and papers?

Those were the days… without the digital screens:Television, iPads, Tabs, and Kindle.

Those were the days… when reading and reading aloud was encouraged during family meal times and on cold winter nights. Reading not only stimulates the brain, but promotes conversation.

Those were the days… when birthday and anniversary presents came in the form of books – just black and white print.

My Sunday morning turned special, as I took my helper to buy books for her new college term. We took a long ride by bus to Koti, across the Musi river in Hyderabad. ‘Aunty, please’ she reminded ”Don’t start taking photos, else the shopkeepers will stare, or may raise book price’ and I smiled.

What a visual treat stretched out on the street off the bus depot! Being a Sunday less traffic means more road space. Books, books everywhere. Universal Book Centre, RajKamal Books, NeelKamal Book Centre and Famous Book shop and others have stood the test of time here. College students come flocking to Koti at the start of the start of new term. The shops dizzying, neat vertical rows of curricular books, was indeed promising.

Rows of shops selling academic and fiction books

Kothi, in Hindi and Urdu means house. During the Nizam era the area housed concubines and other women folk attending to the royal family. Kothi has some famous buildings that house long-standing educational institutes. The splendid architectural Women’s college and nearby Osmania University caters to medical, nursing and Arts courses. Nearby the Gandhi Gyan Kendra , a good place for Yoga courses is a 40 year-long establishment. Thus the business of selling academic books in Koti has been thriving for many decades, changing to the needs of the day.

Medicine, Astrology, Science, Grammar, Spoken English books as well as guides for competitive exams such as TOEFL, CAT, EAMCET are most sought after. Ruled notebooks, account ledgers, drawing books, stationary items are also sold at competitive price. Ever bought notebooks by weight? Come here, there’s no haggling. At a fixed price of Rs. 100/ per kilo for notebooks of A4 size we bought 3 kilos plus course books for Rs. 430/ at a discounted government rate for the CEC curriculum ( Civics, Economics, Commerce). Heavy! heavy I cried.

Second hand books on sale

Further on, the dirty dilapidated subway near Andhra bank is not the best place for a Sunday visual treat! Yet, deep under, on dark descending steps multitude of book sellers cater to second-hand academic books. Best buys for needy college students as they get a loan period and discounts at Rs. 150 – 300.

Such a heartwarming sight! Few college girls were deeply engrossed into comparing syllabus books at these second-hand shops. The thirst for  education, the need for term books and being pocket wise was obvious.Well done!

Second hand book market, Kothi.

Further under the canopy of trees, spread out on large plastic sheets fiction books,classics and children’s story books covered entire stretch of the pavement. Hemingway, Stephen King, Eliot,Tagore, Salman Rushie and new Indian authors like Chetan Bhagat, Jhumpa Lahiri. Ah! what a spread! Though a serious buyer or collector may frown upon the small print, brown pages, authenticity of editing and grammatical errors, the competitive price at Rs. 300-350 seemed like a bargain for just quick lazy reads. Take it or leave it, no haggling.

Arms heavy with carrying the buy of the day, it was time to head home. Popular street book markets are found in most cities. In my college days I often went to Flora Fountain, Mumbai to buy classics or second-hand books. Maybe, I should turn the clock and revisit.

Have you been to a street book market in your city? How was it different?

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

 

Food and Markets during Festive Season of Ramzan

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To all my Muslim friends, readers and followers of this blog

    Ramzan Kareem or Ramadan Mubarak 

At the end of a month-long period of fasting(Sawm), Muslims all over the world celebrate Ramzan (or Ramadhan). In Arabic, the word Ramzan means dryness or scorching heat…referring to the stomach dryness during fasting.

Decorative lamps, table ware, flower bouquets, gifts articles, glittery slippers, sandals and purses, lace and zari trimmed dresses as well as special food treats are packed into every inch of space in shopping malls, markets and restaurants to usher in the festivity. Mounds of thin, crispy noodles or seviyaan sit in circles in sweet shops, Dates filled with pistachio or almonds grace dry fruit stores in the Gulf region and Haleem, a local Hyderabadi dish prepared with pounded wheat, meat and lentils is extremely popular.

Faux zari borders, lace and gotta patti

Here are some photos sent by friends as they get busy in the malls or their homes preparing for the celebration.

Shopping mall decorated for Ramadan

 

Fasting ends after the evening Asar prayers, and the first food to be partaken is the succulent, nutrient Dates. Here is last year’s post on Dates.

At this time of the year, Date Palm fronds are filled with reddish raw fruit, that soon turns golden-yellow in the summer heat. In Hyderabad, as people throng to city mosques for evening prayers,street carts filled with Date fruit and sliced mangoes, papaya and watermelon are sold.

Ripened Berhi dates

After the fast…then feast, then shop or visit friends and relatives to exchange gifts. My Lebanese friend, an excellent cook sends me some virtual treats 🙂  Kunafeh is a rich luxurious dairy dessert popular in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and the neighbouring countries. Filled with ricotta cheese and decorated with crusty shredded khadaif noodles, Kunafeh is laced with plenty of sugar syrup and rose water….yumm..melting in the mouth!

Dessert -Kunafeh

Helwat (Halwa) El Jabeen

Another friend from the Gulf region sends photos of her family reunion feast. They have been busy preparing sev ke ladoos (vermicelli coated mawa or cheese balls), almond filled Dates and a plate of Kharak laced with mawa, pistachios and almonds and popular Sheer Khurma. Nutritious, healthy and filling desserts! Thanks Nisrin…I wish I could come home to wish you all and enjoy the feast.

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Enjoy the food feasts, shopping and visits to family and friends this festive season. It’s a shame I’m not courageous to visit the famous Begum Baazar market in Hyderabad, where Ramzan charity markets are set up. The surging crowds are a bit daunting now.

Till then…Ramzan Kareem.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

‘Tis the Summer Season. ‘Tis the Mango Season

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Never mind the scorching heat, power trips, dry skin and irritable eyes during summer. The one thing that blesses us is the season’s fruit. Delicious, aromatic mangoes!

Young and old, healthy and sick, rich Nawabs and roadside labourers,all lovingly eye the abundant springing  blossoms of the mango tree. Amidst the dark green foliage the koel or cuckoo bird sings melodiously. The intense heat of summer is conducive for ripening the fruit. From raw green to mellow yellow to a golden-yellow, mangoes hang down weighing the branch.

Though mangoes are cultivated in Brazil, Australia, Philipines and Thailand, the Indian mango reigns supreme for its taste and aroma.The Mughal emperor Akbar was so fond of mangoes, he planted 100,000 trees in Darbhanga, Bihar. Mangoes were traded between erstwhile Nawab families or given as bountiful presents during ceremonies. Emperor Aurangzeb, was also fond of mangoes. The Maratha kings presented him a large fruit container. The story describes how clever Sivaji Maharaj, his arch rival, outwitted the emperor and entered his palace to surprise his enemy, just by hiding his small stature between that aroma filled container!

On a festive note -Hindu homes, puja altars and door entrances are decorated with the foliage. The fruit along with fragrant flowers is offered at temples. It is given to pregnant women for a healthy and sweet nutrition and delivery.

http://www.yogapoint.com/inspiring_stories/Mango_tree.htm

This summer I made endless visits to the market and newly set up organic shops to buy a variety of fruit. Childhood memories of climbing up mango trees or pelting it with stones to drop raw fruit came fresh to mind as my friend showed photos of the tree in the backyard and the multitude of black ants creeping along the trunk. Mangoes, mangoes everywhere.

I leave you with a few photographs taken at various regional markets.

Haapus or Alphonso Mango from coastal Maharashtra ( and Mumbai)

Alphonso Mango

The Alphonso Mango is often called Áam ka Raja’ or King of mangoes. Broad top tapering to a rounded end, a smooth skin and richly aromatic is the Haapus. The sweet fleshy pulp is perfect for eating on its own or add it to desserts like shrikhand to make aamrakhand. Locally grown near Ratnagiri, the mango has become widely cultivated for export all over the world.

Dussheri – from north India

Smaller in size this mango grows all over North India. As it ripens late in June and July, it extends a ‘bonus eating season.’ It’s sweet hairy pulp oozes out when softly pressed, loosening the pulp from skin. A children’s delight -this mango brings fun to the dining table as children dribble the juicy pulp and colour their mouths orange in a competitive and fun eating time, all between laughter and giggles.

Banganapalli or Safeda. – from Central India, Andhra and Karnataka

 

A large and oval-shaped mango. It often weighs up to 200 grams each. The pale yellow skin is not as thick as the Alphonso. The centre seed is large and the pulp is fleshy. Slicing it neatly is the best way to serve this very popular variety. Chill it, serve it…eat it!

Totapuri – from Andhra, Gujarat and Karnataka

You probably guessed right. The name ‘tota’ is Hindi for Parrot. The mango has a slightly pointed tip like the beak of the parrot. This variety is best for salads and pickles, not so sweet to bite into.

Rasalu or Ras Bahar from Andhra and Karnataka

Greenish yellow skin with a peck of orange at the top end this mango feels soft when ripe. Best eaten by fidgety fingers that deftly press the fruit to release the pulp. Hmm…smack your lips and enjoy the sweetness.

For a more elegant serve – press out the pulp, add a dash of cold milk, a pinch of salt to balance the taste. Serve refrigerated. Serve with hot poori (Indian fried bread).

Rasalu Mango and fruit pulp

For a recipe of raw mango see here.

Isn’t your mouth watering to buy your favourite mango variety? Don’t forget to send some to your friend (or arch-enemy:) and bring out the smiles.

What is your favourite variety ? Where is it grown?

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

 

 

 

Postcards from Nagpur: City Market and a Town Market

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I take you through a photo journey of two markets, one in the city and other in a small town. One in Nagpur city, other on its outskirts on the highway in Kanhan. One brings out quiet, authoritative mood, the  other a lively, colourful ambience. Oranges, the winter’s bounty was  abundant in both, yet the city market stocked the round, unblemished oranges neatly piled high. In the street, roadside stalls, pushers and peddlars made brisk business.

Situated in central India, Nagpur is not only the winter capital of the state of Maharashtra but also the orange capital of India. It has the right winter temperatures, light rainfall and proper soil to grow this fruit. Famed for its juicy, thin skinned, sweet oranges this home grown mandarin fruit finds its way to local markets as well as the international stalls. Haldiram’s, a popular food enterprise has specially made an ‘Orange Barfi’ a boiled milk and sugar syrup based sweet dedicated to this city!

Photo courtesy: http://fnw.com/everestorangebarfi

Behind the Nagpur railway station stretches the fruit market. Logistic proximity to the trains that criss cross entire India, with Nagpur as its route centre makes this site more convenient than SitaBuldi market, which caters more to clothing and cotton products.

In the winter season when fruit is bountiful, the best crop is often sent to overseas markets or other parts of India. Sadly, the inferior quality often finds its way to the streets and push carts in Nagpur city, lament the locals. Prices range from Rupees 120 -180 per dozen, and are in fact nothing cheaper than other city price.

In contrast, here is a street market in the small town of Kanhan.

This industrial town takes its name from the river Kanhan that flows  through. Kanhan lies on the state highway route from Nagpur to Pench Tiger Reserve. Every weekday the market sets up in different sub areas, thus known by names of the week ‘Som bazzar, Mangal bazaar etc, Wasn’t I lucky to be at the right place at right time!

Street stalls, cycle peddlars, kiosks and push carts all made for a dramatic and hectic scene. Mounds of green peas, white cauliflower buds tight in their green flowery stalks, clusters of neatly arranged ginger and garlic pods sat on jute mats on the street.

In the midst of it all, the mild winter sun made a peep in and out of the clouds.

In and out wandered women in traditional border Nagpuri sarees and bright synthetic modern sarees. Old locals clad in dhoti or shirt and trousers haggled over prices to seek the best bargains.

As my camera took the better of me, passers by looked strangely..’click, click, click.’ Just one more, one more. Finally, a young vendor posed long enough for me, and I snapped up four kilo pea pods in return. Phew! what a task lay ahead to shell the pods for those little, crunchy, sweet peas on my train journey home! 🙂

For a spicy Nagpur style peas snack click here

Peas vendor

Nagpur ….I loved all the fresh vegetables and cotton dress materials much more..than I did your oranges. Didn’t get time to taste that ever so popular Barfi too. So next year, juicy, sweet Nagpur oranges will be bought fresh..right in my city!

Have you ever been to Nagpur? What did you see or buy?

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

Festival Market: Shivo Hum, Shivo Hum (Mahashivratri Celebrations)

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Har har Mahadeo’ chants fill the streets in India today. Loudspeakers  blare musical songs ‘KailashNath ki jai’ and ‘Shiv Aarti’ as Hindus gear up for  a night long celebration or for the spiritual seekers an ‘Awakening.’

Today is Maha Shivratri – the long night of worshipping Lord Shiva, (one of the three Gods of Trinity Brahma, Vishnu,Shiva). It is the day when Shiva is said to have performed the mythical Tandav Nritya– the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.

Special days bring a festive cheer and colour at any market, isn’t it? Here in India today, fruits of many colours – red and green watermelons, golden rock melon, purple grapes, brown Dates, reddish sweet potato tubers fill the street stalls. As many Hindus fast on this day partaking fruit, Dates and milk and honey – so the markets cater to specific needs.

Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram – Truth, Goodness and Beauty.

Lord Shiva the mystical, celibate, powerful of mind, the God of the yogis has much mass appeal. Call Him Mahadeo, Bhairav, Kalanetra,Gangadhara, KailashNath, Pranava or Rudra… or any one of the 108 names, it is HE whom one’s mind should dwell upon tonight, to gather up the upsurge of energy created through meditation and prayer.

Photo courtesy: Internet( Times of India)

To capture some photos of the colourful spring flowers, prayer items on sale and feel the synergy of devout people thronging to the market, was indeed a fruitful morning. Black clay pots and Palash flowers (Flame of the forest) were unique, specific ‘buy of the day.’

street market outside temple

street market outside temple

Spring time stalls selling melons, bananas, rock melon and winter leftover fruit of grapes and apples was a good mix. Sweet Potato tubers and Dates are specially consumed during fasting providing quick energy.

Street stalls selling fruits and sweet potato tubers

Street stalls selling fruits and sweet potato tubers

Black earthern Matka /claypot

Black earthern Matka /claypot

Special grass buds, crimson -red Palash flowers for Shiv puja, milk bottles, black clay pots for carrying payasam (a milk and jaggery pudding ) made an interesting addition to the usual mounds of orange marigold and white tube rose flowers. ‘Palash flowers are offered to Lord Shiva and Parvati ..special today ‘ said the woman vendor, prodding all the married women into buying it specially today.

Don’t worry if you forgot to bring a bag. This little fellow, wants to make a quick sale, as it’s a school holiday.

Vendor boy selling plastic bags for Rupees 10/ each

Vendor boy selling plastic bags for Rupees 10/ each

By night, twinkling lights will decorate temple exteriors, loudspeakers will blare musical chants, people carrying pots of payasam and plate filled with coconut and flowers will await their turn patiently at the temples. Street markets get brighter and busier as last minute business intensifies. It’s a hard day’s work, especially if one has to do the ‘jagran’ spiritual chanting and singing tonight.

Photo Courtesy: Internet ( Times of India)

Mahashivratri has many symbolisms and stories attached to it, explains the Isha Foundation:

  • Among householders, it is considered the night when Shiva married Parvati.
  • Among the ambitious, Shiva is said to have defeated all his enemies on this day.
  • For spiritual seekers, this is the day when Shiva merged with Mount Kailash.

My puja plate is ready for tonight. Many worshippers will throng the temples, others will sit or attend quiet meditation, and still others may try to find out the meaning behind all these celebrations and rituals.

Shivo Hum, Shivo Hum. The beauty of Self Realization.

Plate of puja offering

Plate of puja offering

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer

 

In Pursuit of Self Awareness …..in 2016

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This morning on my walk, I looked up at the tall Eucalyptus or Nilgiri tree. It soared high. A faint aroma from the leaves filled the air. Parts of the old, silvery bark lay on the ground below, while the tree almost weeped as the trunk was peeling away. Tender, beige new skin making its appearance from within.

Nilgiri tree bark

Nilgiri tree bark

Taking in the aroma, a thought passed my mind. Can I too shed my old, negative and weary thoughts? Can I bloom with rejuvenated spirit into the New Year ? Can I too have aroma in my life and share it with others?

Come December, another year closes upon us. We are busy with resolutions, reflections, travel plans, financial notes, meeting our loved ones, doing charity, finish reading a book or adding the last row of stitches to the cardigan … a rush to complete the unfinished!

Year 2016 brought me a fair share of happy and challenging times. Quality time spent with family, caring for elders, learning new recipes and listening to (other’s) travel tales (for a change:) Crochet, books and friends brought the respite during stressful moments. Reciting my stotras or prayers while making small hand made gifts made time meaningful.

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As a girl, I remember standing in a queue to buy movie tickets or sugar from the ration shop. That was in 1970’s! Of late, standing in long snaking queues outside banks or ATM’s seems to be the need of the day in India. Thanks to the bold move of de-monetization of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 by the government, the country is bent on eradicating corruption and black money. I admired volunteers who distributed water and biscuits to tired people in the long queues as well as praising the over worked staff. Reach out wherever and when, don’t wait for some exotic place.

India’s Currency Crunch:What are People in the Vegetable Markets Saying?

New Year, new ideas, new resolutions! But how many do we really succeed at? Well, at the beginning of 2016, I started a new series:Focus 12 with much excitement. Apologies, dear readers. I have not completed the intended 12 posts.

Focus 12 : Markets as Fun, Outdoor Classroom

Focus 12: Feel, Smell, Eat What’s in Season at the Market.

‘At the table with friends and family, you do not become old’… an Italian proverb.

Indian hospitality is known for inviting people to their homes. In fact, it’s rude not to burp after a meal in some communities, as it shows the host has not fed his guest sufficiently! At home, I’ve been busy trying out new variations to old recipes. The fruity twist I gave to a simple kheer, rice pudding was delicious. Though the kheer doesn’t freeze /stay fresh for many days, the pulpy sitaphal or custard apple lent a good flavour.

World Palate Recipes: Nawabi Style Sitaphal Phirni ( Custard Apple and Rice Pudding)

Festivals add cheer, colour and uphold traditions. Be it Halloween, Diwali or Christmas.

Year End and Festive Christmas Markets

Festive Market: Light up for Deepavali

As we fill our own homes with twinkling lights and invite family and friends to plentiful food, a thought goes out to those in need – homeless, disjoint families, children of war zones or devastating earthquakes. Now’s the time to look up worthy NGO’s and organizations and make our contributions. Share and care.

poinsettia-bloom

That brings us to Christmas and New Year. The bright red Poinsettia, in my neighbour’s garden is in full bloom, its red leaves(bracts) adding much Christmas colour. The story of a poor boy who offered roadside weeds to the God in church is a remarkable story of pure love and humble spirit. It was those weeds that bloomed into red and green flowers, known as Poinsettia!

A  VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR  2017

Dear readers, fellow bloggers, family and friends.

May we all try to emulate the Eucalyptus tree. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India’s Currency Crunch:What are People in the Vegetable Markets Saying?

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‘When it rains lemons, make lemonade’ is an age old saying. In my case, it was tomatoes. Vegetable prices had dropped 20 – 50 percent after the demonetization of currency. The evening of November 8, 2016 made financial history in India as Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 suddenly became just paper! The nation was in shock – a sleepless night for rich and poor.

Television, radio and social media were abound with stories and jokes within minutes. Two days later I heard of truckloads of vegetables lying in docks and containers in a waste as traders had no cash to buy and no time to stand in long queues to exchange old notes for new currency.

A visit to the Bowenpally wholesale market in Hyderabad would give me the current picture, I decided. I parked my car and decided to explore the big storage and distribution yard. The market yard is open all days of the week from 4 am. The local municipal corporation has made adequate provision for a canteen and resting rooms to  ease traders, farmers and loaders.

market-entrance-gate

 

canteen-building

The canteen building

The canteen offers subsidised Telugu /Andhra meals and tiffins. Large trucks heavy with vegetables in jute sacks stood parked one behind another. The central courtyard was surrounded with raised platforms housing trading shops that were storage and distribution points.

This morning, around 10 am I sensed an air of uneasy calm, instead of the usual hustle bustle. Over morning cups of chai loaders and traders were discussing cash and sale issues.

  • How do we buy our daily bread?
  • What do we do with the old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes?
  • What will be the impact on vegetable sales? A dip in profits? Rotten unsold vegetables?
  • Will the real ‘black money’ marketers be caught?
  • What is the motive of the government is stopping the use of these notes?

loaders-sittign-idle

I crossed my way through the maze of smaller pick up trucks, heaps of pumpkins and white gourds, jute sacks and idle loaders who posed for photos. Some were wondering what a well dressed woman is doing in the midst of all the market trade. Nagamma, a local vendor said ‘ le lo Amma..sasta bikta hai’ which translates as ‘buy cheaply Madam, vegetables are soon rotting so selling cheap.’

Lingaiah and Ramaih two brothers who are part-timeloaders went out of job for past two days, as sale of vegetables slumped. Others shook out Rs.1,000 note folding it into a paper cone to fill peanuts, and laughed jokingly! A thousand Rupees and no takers! Paper money! Even in the canteen and adjoining rest rooms no one accepted the demonetised money and village traders suddenly were cash strapped – no money in smaller denomination to buy food or pay for rest rooms. Another young vendor showed me 25 kilo tendli or gherkins in sacks that sold at Rs. 1,000 now had no buyers. A whopping loss of trade in a minute of announcement!

jute-sacks-awating-loading-into-lorry

 

loaders-loading-trucks

Tomatoes that were selling at Rs. 20 per kilo were down to Rs. 8-10 per kilo, so also fresh french beans, lady fingers and broad beans. One vendor smiled jokingly and asked ‘Madam free chai if you ONLY show me the new 2,000 currency note the banks are issuing.’A restaurant owner who regularly buys vegetables in bulk here moaned ‘We have been affected in the past three days as the vegetable markets are not accepting 1,000 and 500 notes. We have few new 2,000 notes and we are finding it difficult to buy vegetables in the wholesale market.’

500-and-1000-notes-what-to-do

Picking up my 5 kilos of juicy red tomatoes (and conjuring up  recipes) I walked to the car. The plight of the cash strapped vendors and reminders of long queues outside banks and ATM’s was a small price to pay for the bold move by the government in a bid to track down black money. India will now witness a huge surge in restructuring payments, transparent economy and educating the poor towards a cashless society with new bank accounts. Demonetisation will have its say in the markets and streets of India for some time now.

Enter plastic cards! Welcome to digital age for one and all!

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retracing the Nawabi steps at Muzzam Jahi Market, Hyderabad

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Imagine baskets brimming with Persian fruit, women in black burqhas clutching shopping bags, children running between corridors of the stone building housing the market, vendors and errand boys carrying baskets for the Nawab’s family and friends. And above this all stood the clock tower of the Muzzam Jahi market in quiet aristocracy!

Sadly, it’s all gone now. The splendid market is just a piece of history and architecture.

But don’t lose heart. In spite to the distance from my part of the city (the market is located in Koti, Hyderabad) braving the chaotic traffic of honking cars, buses and cyclists, I was determined to visit and relive a piece of history. In fact, to take delight in the ‘Famous Ice Cream’ and buy some Dilkhush biscuits at the nearby Karachi Bakery were important too.

Majestic Muzzam Jahi market building and tower

Majestic Muzzam Jahi market building and tower

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The Nizams did everything in grandeur, this market too was built with utmost care. It was constructed during the reign of the last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan in 1935, and was named after his second son Moazzam Jah. Originally meant to be a fruit market, it soon turned out to be a place where one could find just about anything — fruits, vegetables, flowers, groceries, earthen pots, arms and ammunitions….yes that’s true! And paan, ice-cream, dry fruits, hookahs and ittar.

The fruit vendors, have been moved to Kothapet market and Monda market, others had stalls on the adjoining roads. Mounds of seasonal juicy oranges and soft. green custard apples lay scattered on the street floors.

street shop selling custard apple fruit

street shop selling custard apple fruit

As I walked into the central circular area, there was a round building lined with shops. From here, the semi- circular stone corridor was almost breath taking! What precision and calculation of exact height and width of the stone columns and the arches made this an architectural masterpiece! At both ends of the corridor a helix staircase lead to an upper open floor. The market building was made of brown stone brought from central Deccan plateau. The main tall clock tower at the entrance faced outwards. Pigeons seem to co exist with humans and vegetables in the central courtyard. Shopkeepers regularly scattered grains for the fluttering birds. Well, spot them here if you can.

central-courtyard-round-shops

Retracing the steps of Nawabs, their women folk and dozen children, I softly stepped up the stone corridor, peeking in and out of the numerous arches. Maybe a love story opened here? Romance,  demure fleeting glances, giggling girls hiding behind the columns, young men darting a glance? Imagine.

market-corridor

Today the wooden shop doors, looked vintage. Some were painted in a myriad of bright colours. Blue, brown, green, yellow and white – some shut, some half open, some begging for renovation. The interior space was deep, dark and air stone cooled. Out of the seventy odd shops, only a few remain functional today as grain stores, vegetable shops, oil traders and a few hookah and ittar shops. Chatting with a few Muslim fruit sellers they remembered how everyone lived here in harmony since past 50-70 years.

shop-door-painted

Exotic fruit. That was what the market was initially famous for. Hyderabad being in central India made it an important trade route. The Nawabs had elaborate kitchens and matching Khandaani cuisines that were renowned in the Arabic and European aristocracy. Figs and Narangi from Iran and Persia, Dates from the Arabic region, apples from Afghanistan and Kashmir, dry fruit of badam, pista, poonji, kishmish. Olives and olive oil from Iran and Spain. A well catered market.

Lastly, it was time to find THAT Famous Ice Cream shop…yes that’s it’s name!

Located on the outer corridor facing the noisy road, it was well tucked in. Red plastic chairs and tables lay out in the open courtyard in front. One corner had stainless steel ice cream churns and large vessels to boil milk. The other side displayed an old tempting menu board. The old man and his younger son have owned this shop for over 70 years, scooping out delicious, fruity soft ice cream, to young and old, and many a romantic pair. Spoilt for choice I was. I ordered one scoop of malai anjeer (cream and figs) and another of sitaphal (custard apple) and enjoyed those melting moments of cream in the mouth. For a recipe on sitaphal see here.

Famous Ice cream menu

Famous Ice cream menu

Now won’t you follow my footsteps to this grand Hyderabad market? Tell me about your experiences, maybe at other ice cream, hookah or candy shops that still open doors to customers. Till then,  Khuda Hafiz…Bye.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer

 

 

 

Festive Market: Light up for Deepavali

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Festive Market: Light up for Deepavali

Yes, it’s Deepavali or Diwali once again. Streets and shops are brimming with latest sarees, dresses, lamps, festive puja items, fruit and mithai and electronics. Sale! sale! Glittering gold, red and green twinkling lights and confetti decorate shop windows. There’s hurry (and pressure) to buy the latest designs – be it bumper TV or iphone….or fashion wear! Festive markets are so colourful and fun.

Deepavali, a Hindu festival of lights (deepa) is celebrated all over India with much pomp. Traditionally, festive lamps or diyas, made from baked mud /clay are lit and kept at door entrances. Large colourful Rangoli or Kolam designs dot the floor spaces at entrances of homes and shops, boxes of mithai and meva arranged in colourful baskets, boxes laced with golden trimmings sit on store shelves awaiting customers. At home, every kitchen is given a good scrub. Preparation for making traditional sweets and savoury like sev, ladoo, chakli, halwa, chirote, namkeen begins days earlier. And on the last day…the noise and sparks from fire crackers and sparklers fill the streets.

For a recipe of Besan Ladoo see here.

No wonder, this family festival brings crowds (literally) to the streets. Here are a few photos that to brighten your mood and give you a glimpse the festival.

Diwali items for sale at street Bazaar

Diwali items for sale at street Bazaar

Colourful paper lanterns for sale at street kiosk

Colourful paper lanterns for sale at street kiosk

Here are the festive mud /clay lamps that add colour and bring in ‘light’ to the doorstep.

Festive Diyas or lamps

Festive Diyas or lamps

Many stories about the festival revolve around Lord Rama, the fight of good over evil, light and wisdom over darkness. The significance of lighting the lamps itself is symbolic of removing darkness and negativity from our life and the colours of Rangoli symbolize role of colour in our daily activity.

Here is a small compilation on books, stories and Rangoli:

At home, I enjoyed making simple paper lanterns or Kandil. Soon it will be time to decorate home with earthen lamps, colourful Rangoli and prepare gift plates and Kandil for distribution to friends and family.

Home made paper lanterns

Home made paper lanterns

At centres with disabled or mentally challenged children, economically low /troubled women, jail interns and other organizations teach and sell diyas and kandil to support such groups. It’s a time to light up THEIR life, by making small sacrifices and reaching out to those in need.

 

Beautiful Aakash Kandil. Made by students of Vishwas Special School for Mentally challenged (Thane). Contact: +91.9699699486

Beautiful Aakash Kandil. Made by students of Vishwas Special School for Mentally challenged (Thane). Contact: +91.9699699486

 

                                  Happy Diwali to all my friends who are celebrating.

Don’t forget to leave your comments on how you spent Diwali.

Colourful Rangoli floor design

Colourful Rangoli floor design

 

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer