Tag Archives: people

Postcards: Focus on Women in Rythu Bazaar, Hyderabad

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Rythu or Raitha bazaar are farmer’s markets , started by Telengana government (Andhra Pradesh, India) in 1999. This model was begun to provide adequate, correct and proper facilities to the small-scale farmer’s. And to enable sale of vegetables and fruits on a fresh, daily basis at fixed rates. In turn, this would help cut the middle men, who often exploited the farmers for personal profits. The market model would be beneficial to both farmer’s and consumers, alike.

A number of Rythu bazaars are set up around Hyderabad, after considering factor’s such as site, farmer’s land, types of growth, procurement and transport facilities, neighbourhood businesses, hospitals, schools that will buy wholesale fresh produce, proper roads, lighting, sewage and toilet facilities in the constructed bazaar site,  and above all identification and proper information of the farmer’s that will benefit from these markets.

But not all is rosy and cheerful, even today. There are many problems that still persist in many of these bazaars, said the farmer’s and other vendors.

On my visit to the Shamsabad Rythu bazaar, I tried to engage and see the women folk and their activities in the market.

Here are some questions that rushed to my mind.

  • What is the role of the woman in this bazaar or business?
  • What skills /expertise does she need to survive here?
  • What facilities are provided by her family or the government?
  • Is she a primary or secondary bread winner? Why?

Hope these snapshots give some clues, or provoke other thoughts?

1. Many women folk working here rise as early as 4am to complete their morning chores.They then walk to the nearby Rythu bazaar, carrying fresh greens or vegetables they have collected the previous evening from their small farms and piling it on their rented stall. A joint effort by family members to layout produce and sell. But, age and back problems will soon be their friends, they moan!

Women balancing loads on their heads on way to market

Women balancing loads on their heads on way to market

2. Nagamma, the middle-aged lady assists her daughter daily. Her family members gather, sort and make bundles of the popular leafy Gongura or Amaranth, from their land from morning to dusk. Next morning piling it into large plastic bags, one member delivers it to the bazaar. Today’s selling price: Rs. 10 for 5 bundles.What could be her daily price? What is her profit? She does not pay platform rental.

Her daughter comes to collect the total sum at mid day after selling her own seasonal vegetables separately in wholesale on the constructed platform nearby. Nagamma is happy to sell her small bag full  and collect her daily wages and live with respect in her daughter’s house.

Woman vendor selling green leafy vegetables at fixed price

Woman vendor selling green leafy vegetables at fixed price

3. This elderly couple smiled when I asked them to pose. They thought I was a newspaper reporter who could write about their complaints and problems to the government 🙂

Today’s price for mangoes: Rupees 30 per kilo. But they knew middle men posed as consumers and bought 20- 30 kilos and sold it elsewhere in the city at a higher price of Rupees 50 -80 a kilo, making large profits.

The woman was employed by an orchard owner as seasonal contract labour. They need to find other work after the season, or help in tending to the gardens and plant growth.

Couple selling seasonal Banganpalli mangoes, fresh on a cart

Couple selling seasonal Banganpalli mangoes, fresh on a cart

4. The Banjara woman, in traditional ethnic tribal clothes is a ‘coolie’ or helper. Once her job of lifting bags and delivering them is over, she cashes her pay, then visits various stalls to find a bargain , before heading off to other construction sites for labour work. As she has no farms, or ability in farming, nor good language and communication she earns a living doing physical labour.

The vendor lady, in contrast, was a successful, quick business woman, with not much patience for loose talk or photos. She sold raw mangoes in wholesale. Here regular customers were nearby restaurants and hotels that confirmed a week’s supply and payment, even if daily prices differed. The mango in the picture is not a ‘free bargain’ for the Banjara lady, but I had to promise to buy it later.

2 women pose. One a vendor , other a buyer

2 women pose. One a vendor , other a buyer

5. What happens if you are not from the farming community? As an outsider, its unlikely you are welcomed  by the community. Nevertheless, seasonal rains provided the answer. This lady sets up her road side shop and awaits the occasional customer. As she has not paid any rent for the place, she needs to keep an eye for the policeman or governing body and shut shop briskly. Till then…sip tea and wait!

Woman selling seasonal products like umbrellas

Woman selling seasonal products like umbrellas

6. Government bodies fix the market price of the produce for the day, making announcements on the loudspeaker. This woman manages her stall all alone. She needs to juggle between selling, carting and counting cash. A minute’s hesitation and slack can cost her hundreds of rupees, as her immediate neighbours sell tomatoes too. Quality vs. quality.

But regular buyers need to be looked after, as well as the odd middleman. There was no chance of buying a meagre 2 kilo here, one had to buy bulk from 10 kilo- upwards. The mathematics learned on the street was faster than in a classroom, experience and need being the immediate teachers. No computers and calculators here!

Counting cash and striking bargains with the customer

Counting cash and striking bargains with the customer

7. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

The Banjara woman belongs to a robust, nomadic tribe that is found all over the Deccan plateau region and neighbouring states. They are believed to be descendants of the Roma gypsies of Europe. Known for their folklores, colourful costumes of Ghagra -cholis or long skirt and blouse and elaborate jewellery the women are strong and tall. They wear heavy silver or brass anklets, often weighing them down. As a nomadic community, they live off labour work. They are experts in basket weaving, embroidery and selling jewellery or articles made from natural products such as shells, metals, rice and grass.

Banjara woman (coolie)

Banjara woman (coolie)

Shy, at first, her fellow people told her to pose, citing it as an honour to the community. She quickly rearranged her head cover, as is customary. She is the group’s singer and rendered a small couplet when prodded. Tribals bond together around winter fires with folklores, singing, dancing, a vibrant and healthy pastime.

So, what are your thoughts on the subject ? How are women’s roles different in the markets in your country ?

For another post on market vendors at Al Mina market, Abu Dhabi,  see here.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2015) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer

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Immigrant Jigsaw Puzzle, Sydney

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Immigrant Jigsaw Puzzle, Sydney

Immigrant Jigsaw Puzzle

Recently, I was at the Paddy’s Haymarket. Did I hear the vendors exchanging conversations in Chinese? It took me by surprise! This was Sydney, Australia! But here was a migrant community. People who had made Australia their new home.

Paddy’s Haymarket, is a short walk from Town Hall station, in Sydney’s commercial district. Situated inside a 1950’s building complex this wholesale market caters to selling fresh fruit and vegetables, it operates daily. You can’t miss the brick-red walls of this Edwardian architecture, as soon as you turn off the main Town Hall street, into the lane leading to the market. Tourists flock here for cheap bargains and often stop right in middle of the lane .. cameras clicking click, click.

This iconic building, is a contrast to the modern high-rise glass structures at Town Hall and standing majestically aloof from the shabby old buildings of Chinatown area.

Haymarket Building, Sydney

Haymarket Building, Sydney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piecing the jigsaw puzzle:

Australia is original home to the Aboriginals, a distinct indigenous community. They are known for nomadic ways, natural living style, clan behaviour and living in isolation. The European sea farers, outlaws and the gold diggers that descended upon Australia, changed the status and outlook of the country. As farmers, wine growers, setting up law and order, schools the Aboriginals were displaced. Two distinct Australian communities but not one set up shop and earned his living here. I wonder why?

Enter the Chinese. They are the oldest immigrants that arrived into Australia during 1850’s. Poor knowledge of spoken English and tight immigrant laws, pushed these migrants into low-end work as cleaners, gardeners, drivers, and small shop owners. Keen business acumen and hard work paid off. Today, Chinatown outside this market is a buzzing place full of restaurants, shops and housing estates. This market in Sydney with so many Asian vendors speaks volumes isn’t it?

The red and gold Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling brought back memories of Singapore market and Chinese festivities. I loved those New year dolls pasted on the pillars – smiling faces as if  reminding one to smile about life and make efforts wherever you are.

Chinese lanterns at Paddy's market

Chinese lanterns at Paddy’s market

All is not easy, said the busy, young Malaysian lady handing me packets of exotic Dragon fruit and baby corn. She had to take English lessons for six months, and work as a cleaner in the evenings to support herself. ‘To the customers we talk Chinese /Australian accent, but between our community, we quickly shout out in Mandarin’ she laughed.

And where is home? I inquired. Generally ethnic communities prefer to lived huddled together in suburban enclaves -Redfern, Paramatta, Chatswood. ‘Housing is cheaper and easier to get support from our community’ remarked an elderly Chinese vendor, speaking near fluent English. His children attend public school, and they correct his English at home, he laughs. Ethnic suburbs are great way to interact during cultural programmes, he added.

Because this was an Asian market I could buy some tofu, Bok choy, lettuce and baby asparagus. Other curious young Malaysian Chinese, Vietnamese Chinese and Filipino vendors peeped into my camera. They joked ‘ We are instant heroes’ laughing away their daily struggles and adjustments to this foreign culture. Once home, food is comfort – chicken rice, dumplings and noodles.

Enter – Lebanese, Turks, Arabs.
Want a piece of Turkey ? Just like in the bazaars of Istanbul,  jute cloth sacks filled with fresh aromatic powders stood majestically in this shop. Traditional aluminium containers adorned the counters, with mountain peaks of coloured powders. A perfect picture! Now try painting this: Bright yellow turmeric, black nigel seeds, white sesame seeds, green oregano, red chilli flakes, brown cumin and coriander powder, deep green mint and hints of yellow and black in the mustard. I stood there taking deep inhalations, filling my senses with those strong aromas.

Turkish style market counter

The elderly Turkish owner, caressing his white beard and adjusting his cap, soon guided me through the healing nature of these herbs. Arriving in Sydney as a refugee, many years ago, with hardly a penny in the pocket and no knowledge of English, was no mean task. He cleaned dishes in restaurants and ate left overs. Today, his son and family help him manage this very popular shop. He looked as me in discouraging tone ‘Only 50 grams of strong ginger and 50 grams of turmeric powders?’  ‘My European customers buy much more than you’ he shrugged.

The Turks, Lebanese, Syrians have indeed been a major contributing community. I’ve heard of a Lebanese market in suburban Paramatta that sells authentic Lebanese herbs and food items. Turkish and Lebanese food is very popular in Sydney, with many restaurants dotted all over. See here for another Sydney market.

Enter – Fijian Indians.

One small shop tucked away in the front row was selling cosmetics and watches. The couple serving at this stall had arrived from Fiji islands. Dark skinned, wearing traditional long Fijian skirts and a blouse, the lady spoke to me in Fijian Hindi, a dialect. They moved here selling their house and farmland, looking to Australia for better future for their children and more job opportunities for the family men. ‘Home to them is still Fiji – a land bountiful with coconut trees, mangoes and plenty of fresh vegetables’ she smiled.

Enter – European settlers

My eye caught the colourful Easter poster pasted on one wall announcing holiday trading hours. Bright Easter bunny chocolates and treats would soon make way into the market. A gentle reminder of local European cultures and traditions that the migrant community need to embrace, along with their customary celebrations

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Taking one last view of the colourful fruits and vegetables, souvenirs, watches and swim wear was a market bustling with activity, like any other in the world. The people in it contributed to it’s existence. Unknowingly, I gave one nod of acknowledgement to this robust, enterprising migrant community. The new face of Sydney, Australia. Pride and gratitude swelled within me.

I had to take home one souvenir of the first people here. A bag with distinct Aboriginal design. Dots and lines traced in bold black and red colours to create a piece of simple Aboriginal Art. Goodbye, Sydney.

Souvenir bag

Souvenir bag

 

Have you met any immigrants in Sydney ? What are their stories? 

 

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2015) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

Foodies Market – Sydney

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Foodies Market – The Rocks, Sydney

Have you ever visited a food market? Well, such weekly markets,cater to selling fresh food, in a relaxed setting under the sun. Isnt’ that exciting – no home preparations, no kitchen cleaning. Instead, just wander around, peek at the delectable food and enjoy a market ambience! That’s how I spent one Friday morning in Sydney.

A short stroll from Circular Quay, towards the historic buildings on George Street is The Rocks. It so popular on the weekends – you cant’ miss it. Every Friday, from 10am – 3 pm, the Friday Foodies Market, changes the scene from a quiet office and boutique cafe section to a noisy, carefree weekend market.

Welcome to a row of white tents, bustling crowds and exotic food!

The Foodies Market, Sydney

The Foodies Market, Sydney

The country cycle is such a typical European market icon. Look, how it invites the city people here.

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In recent years, Sydney has become home to immigrants from diverse countries. Home to Aboriginal and European settlers, the popular city is now home to other cultures too – Chinese, Japanese, French, Canadians, Indians, Filipino and Turkish, to name a few.

 

 

 

Weekend food markets in the city ? A great place to be spoilt for choice! French cheese and caviar, Turkish Gozleme, Moroccan coffee and dates, Japanese steak and stir fry, Australian wine and dairy products like cheese and cookies. Hmm…what would you like to try now?

There is something casual and romantic about street markets. Nestled right in the tourist and down town office area, this market has become so popular and growing in the past 10 years. Where else can you get a hand made chocolate or fresh made French crepe on the street?

Can you hear the laughter and weekend chatter? Just stand in the queue, the longest one – and feel the relaxed spirit. Today, there are smartly dressed office men in suits, children tugging the mother’s skirt, tourists adjusting their backpacks and the aimless wanderers taken in by surprise.

The cameras are going click..click.click. Faster than the sale of cookies and macaroons:)

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‘Is that the queue for Turkish Gozleme?’ I ask the young ladies standing in a long winding queue. ‘Yes, but it moves very fast, about 20 minutes waiting. We come here every Friday – and just love the hot pancakes!’ they said.

Well, that will be my lunch too. Look at the mounds of soft white dough, quickly patted and rolled by Turkish women. Then its stuffed with Feta cheese and spinach (beef is optional). A quick drizzle of oil on the hot pan to cook the pancake. ‘Salam Ale Quum’ – greets the young Turkish immigrant as he cuts and puts the crisp, hot flatbread – perfect Turkish Gozleme carefully into styrofoam containers. In a jiffy! Brisk sales here.

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Now, isn’t your mouth-watering too?  You can take photos of a food market and invite me, next time.

At the end of the market street, were stalls selling art/ bead work, clothing, hand-made jewellery, candles and even chocolates. A fun time for all.

That’s it..I went straight to the harbour to watch the Sydney boats go past the Opera house and enjoy some fresh food.

Wait…. do I need some coffee too?

A cup of coffee, anyone ?

A cup of coffee, anyone ?

Have you ever visited a fresh food market? What did you eat? Where? 

 

 

A French Affair – Baskets, Bread and Cheese

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A French Affair – Baskets, Bread and Cheese

Once on a trip to France, I noticed how indispensable the shopping basket was for the French. Whether on the streets of Paris, with a baguette tucked into the oval basket, or brimming with fresh vegetables and fruits in a tote, those classic French-style baskets were definitely part of daily life. A French love affair with the basket, bread and cheese, isn’t it ?

In the quaint town of Blois, on a summer morning, I stumbled upon the country market. Following women carrying totes I admired the strong, durable leather straps . Made of palm leaves or straw, the baskets are very durable and eco-friendly. I walked the narrow, cobbled streets leading down from the majestic chateaux towards the mighty river Loire. And behold! there was the weekly market, buzzing with activity. The colour of fresh fruits and the lively chatter of French customers made this weekly market a great place to experience.

Every Wednesday and Saturday, from 7am to noon, the street became epi-centre of the town. Men and women, tourists and locals, young and old, made a bee line to catch the freshest and best produce. Wait! I almost began counting the number of shopping baskets, and admiring the  shapes too!

Original french market basket.Courtesy: vintage holidays

Original french market basket.Courtesy: vintage holidays

Oooh, la la Madame, ne touche pas’ retorted the street vendor, re-arranging the wicker – woven baskets at his stall, near the street entrance. I was in no mood to buy one. Behind me, through the narrow street corners, rose the majestic chateaux de Blois. Adjacent stone buildings with tall turrets, were remnants of the grandiose life style of the aristocrats who often spent summer in Blois.

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Makeshift tables laid out displays of meat, fish, eggs. Colourful vegetables and seasonal fruits were as if, painted in the brightest colours. They caught the morning rays that shone brilliantly on them. Protecting the produce from the sun, large brown and blue awnings hung fluttering overhead. Some vendors quickly gulped down strong, black coffee or nibbled on fresh bread to energize themselves ahead of the busy shopping time.

Bonjour, savant?’ greeted men and women as they met friends. Shopping is a social affair at a French market. Small town people know each other better than in big cities. Clutching baskets in hand, greeting with a quick traditional French kiss on the cheek, they settled into conversation. Time stopped.

Woven shopping bags

Straw or palm leaf shopping baskets

Finding a bread stall is not difficult, choosing the right bread is!

The market had more than a dozen vendors selling bread or pain, as it’s called in French. A lady vendor explained the 4 basic ingredients for baking: flour, yeast, water and salt. Thanks to the creative French bakers – we now have as many varieties of French bread as their regions!

Take the baguette – it’s a long stick-like crusty bread. When horizontally cut into a slice, it eaten with cheese or soup. Often one finds hungry people heading home from work, tearing a piece to nibble along the way. Or just make a quick sandwich, like this vendor. Stuff fresh greens, cheese, ham or tuna into a pre-cut baguette and voila! A meal on the go.

I settled for the healthy Boule – a large, round, crusty bread made with 6 grain cereals .’Slice small portions as you need, store in a paper bag, for a day or two’ suggested the lady. ‘ Did you bake these yourself ?’ I inquired.  ‘Oui Madam’ yes she said, it’s family run business. French are very particular about the choice of bakery or boulangerie. ‘My father was a traditional farm baker, but I attended bread baking classes in the city’ said the lady. ‘We learn the history of French bread, importance and measurements of products, and packaging and storing bread.’

Did you know that, shortage of bread in the Revolution of 1700’s caused street riots? The rich and wealthy ate wheat and white bread, the poor ate flatter loaves with less cereals. Today multi-grain is replacing white flour, towards a healthy choice.

There’s special bread for dessert. Don’t just put jam or honey on the baguette! Choose from Pain au chocolat, almond croissant, sweet buns filled with cream and raspberry, orange loaf, banana bread, brioche, pain au noix studded with walnuts or head to the nearest boulangerie.

Like the French, I too was particular. I stood for 15 minutes to get this loaf sliced. 

For more :http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/breadstuffs/bread-glossary2.asp

Machine sliced fresh bread

Machine sliced fresh bread

 

Move on to cheese stalls. A 1000 varieties ?Only in France is this possible. There is one cheese for every year. (un fromage par jour de l’année). Did the number of cheese stalls exceed that of bread, I wondered.

French prefer local cheese to industrial mass production. People discuss ‘what and where’ the cows have eaten. Often when buying cheese, the vendor would offer a small slice to taste, as if it’s bait. Unable to stand the strong smell of Blue Gruyère cheese offered, I hesitated. ‘Try it’ said the lady, ‘c’est frais’. I bit through the texture. Amazing softness! The cheese was so salty. Yet, I bought 4 varieties of fresh cheese, that would make a perfect French style dessert for my lazy picnic by the river Loire.

Cutting cheese is an art. With a special knife, gloves worn on hand, the lady placed the cheese on a wooden board. Meticulously she cut a wedge – from middle to the rind ensuring every customer gets soft and firm bits.

French cheese comes in hard and soft varieties. Milk from cow, ewe, and goat is processed, aged and flavoured and packed. Like bread, cheese forms an integral part of food culture. An old French proverb says ‘a meal without cheese is like an eyeless beauty’ (Un repas sans fromage est une belle à qui il manque un œil. Brillat-Savarin). A platter of cheese will generally have 5-7 varieties. At the end of the meal , chesse and fresh fruit like grapes, kiwi, strawberry are served. ‘It would be funny to have cheese for breakfast’ said the vendor. ‘The French don’t do that.’

Popular French cheese is: Emmenthal, Camembert de Normandie, Roquefort, Le Vieux Lille, Le Munster, Le Cantal, Brie, Le Mariolle and regional products.

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Now, wasn’t that a lovely way to understand French culture? A great way to spend a summer morning as a tourist too. No, shopping basket for me –  my cloth bag would suffice. Pushing in fresh lettuce, crunchy cucumbers and sweet seasonal strawberry, I took one last view of the sounds and colours of this weekly market.

For who knows? If you don’t visit Blois on Saturday…the market would be in another town.

Avoir Blois, avoir Paris, avoir France.

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell me about a town market you have visited. Or the food of that region. 

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2015) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer

Istanbul – Cultural musings from a Bazaar

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Istanbul – Cultural musings from a Bazaar

 Istanbul – Cultural Musings from a Bazaar

 

Bazaar, a Persian word, means a trading market. Turkey has long been famous for its textile and agricultural trade. During Byzantine and Ottoman rule, caravans traversed this historic route, across two continents connecting Asia and Europe. Turkish bazaars then, were famous for spice, cloth, gold bracelets, leather goods, books and even slaves!  Today, the bazaar offers an insight into Turkish history. Almost like a museum!

Istanbul, they say, is the tourist capital of the world. It’s unique geographical position, several sieges that changed its history and the straits of Bosphorus, that served routes for trade and navigation, make Istanbul a culture lover’s paradise. For the Grand Bazaar or spice market, draws thousands of tourists, and the quiet Aarasta Bazaar set in the backdrop of the Blue mosque evoke scents and smell of brisk trade.

In the SultanAhmet area, the Aarasta Bazaar is a small, quiet market. Open seven days of the week, it beckons every tourist that passes through its stone arch. Souvenirs, carpets and rugs, Turkish sweets and Ottoman robes line the shops. Locally known as Sipahi Carsisi, the shops, boast antique wooden architecture. They once housed horses and sentry (sipahi) of Ottoman Caliph’s. Trot, trot…clog ..one can almost hear the horses hoofs!

 

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The first shop tucked into the stone arch is a heavily dotted with turquoise blue ware. Ceramic vases, plates, perfume bottles  with flowery nakshi or designs crowd it’s shelves. Can you spot that big glass bead with an eye design? Popularly known as Nazar boncuk or ‘evil’ eye, locals hang it at door entrances – of homes, shops and office, in children’s closets and in cars. A common sight all over Central Asia, it probably originated in the Mediterranean. It was hung on ships and tail fins of airplanes. No wonder, it’s guards the bazaar entrance. 

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Turquoise blue, the national colour of Turkey, is the colour of Bosphorus waters. Trade and social activity depended upon this strait, hence its revered. Blue ceramics have a blend of Ottoman arabesque with hints of Chinese elements – probably the Ottoman rulers traded spice and cotton textile with Chinese and in turn, inspired them with blue pottery of Ming dynasty.

 

Blue ceramic jewellery store

Blue ceramic jewellery store

The next shop lined with tiles will charm any tourist. The geometric designs and floral patterns date back to Seljuk rulers and later the Ottoman period. These ceramic tiles have a white base and high glaze, making them very durable and exquisite. From the 16th century onwards the town of Iznik is synonomous for tiles. Palace walls and hammams are covered in tiled patterns almost forming a carpet.

Want to turn your home into a palace ? Just order a boxful of Iznik  tiles. They will be delivered to your doorstep, anywhere in the world!

 

“Want to become a Caliph for a day ? Dress like the Ottoman rulers” suggested the young shopkeeper in jeans and blue shirt. My turquoise blue Indian Shalwaar /Khameez attracted attention, and he asked  “India?” or “Pakistan?” Where you come from ?

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Turkish men and women wear a shalwar, loose trousers with a long flowing tunic. It’s an ideal dress for the scorching summer. However, the younger generation prefers western wear and jeans. The Pasha caps and Fez caps remind one of bygone years. Made in faux tuxedo or velvet / suede they made a pretty picture, perfectly balanced in a colourful vertical column. Look at the royal colours – indigo blue, gold and scarlet red. For an aristocratic touch add a glitzy decoration. Tassels are a must on the Fez. During Ottoman rule, military people were ordered to do away with cumbersome turban tying. They adopted a Western style – a sign of Ottoman modernity. Today, the height, shape, colour of the Fez is more a fashion statement, often dictated by European influences.

I was lucky to pose with local Turkish women some who wore colourful head-scarves. Whether in rural areas or urban high streets, scarf designs and tying methods make fashion, changing often to suit the wearer.

More textile shops filled the bazaar. Turkey has been home to Anatolian ethnic designs. Long flowing gowns, broadly cut kaftaans with sleeves stitched horizontally, delicately embroidered winter coats with paisley designs or floral motifs and woollen trousers or salwar hung on dispaly. Different historical periods demanded different clothing designs. Nakkashane, a Persian word for design or pattern, wer intricately woven using silk thread. Dyed in various inks for a suitable colour and turning to nature for inspiration – the artisans reached zenith during the Seljuk rule and Ottoman rule. Later western influences changed long tunics into short shirts and baggy trousers to straight cuts, adopted for military uniforms.

Nature inspired flower designs are found on almost every aspect of Turkish life – ceramic ware, carpets, clothing, linen and even sofa covers.

Food is the way to a man’s heart. Not only did the Sulieman’s chefs in Topkapi Palace prepare the most elaborate menus, but rustic, earthy women in every household worked long hours to knead bread dough and skewer meat and fish. The bazaar boasts of a fifth generation sweet shop. From milky puddings, coloured chewy lokum, or varieties of rolled pistachio and nut filled filo pastry and halve – tray laden shelves glisten like ruby and emeralds. Turkish delight and baclava are not the only sweets every tourist must savour.

Tray filled Turkish sweets

Tray filled Turkish sweets

Then, how could I satiate myself with at least a dozen different chewy halve to choose from?

Just then, passing vendors sold fresh seasonal fruit ( or fresh squeezed) juice on hand-carts fitted with age-old hand machines and spout. Fruit thus is important item on family menus: strawberries and cherries in spring, summer produces Anar or pomegranate and peaches, and in winter apples and oranges hang in the home garden and orchards.

For more visit my World Palate recipe section – Turkish Menemen.

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Leaving the bazaar, I am happy to take back a page of history, some recipes, and ethnic souvenirs. Conversations with friendly local shopkeepers gave insightful tips about their culture, no book can offer. It was truly like visiting an open-air museum!

Have you had an interesting tour of local culture at any market ? Do share. It makes this blog a richer place. 

 

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 – 2015) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

A Photo Essay – Al Mina Market, Abu Dhabi

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A Photo Essay – Al Mina Market, Abu Dhabi

Ethnic faces, Human stories: Al Mina market.

 Abu Dhabi, UAE is a vibrant, affluent emerging city, carving its distinct identity. Many workers and professionals are increasingly arriving here. That makes for a cosmopolitan society, parallel to the local Emiratis. It’s the labourers and workers, building a new Abu Dhabi, that create a rich tapestry of ethnic cultures, food and clothing. What is life like for these migrants? How do they live? Where do they work?

I decided to find out by visiting the local fresh market at Al Mina, very near the Zayed port. Come listen to the personal stories behind the faces of migrant community working at the market. The city’s history from another angle. 

On a bright sunny day, armed with my camera ( and shopping bag) I alighted from the bus and walked over to the container sheds storing fresh produce. Bright, colourful vegetables, sat on makeshift outdoor stalls, either as neat packages or arranged loosely. The market is open every day of the week. During hot summers, its quiet business during the day, but brisk once the sun sets. However, during winter, the place is busy all day. The evenings are busiest, with ample lighting extended onto the adjacent road. Baazar style many market stalls suddenly spring up, and ethnic vendors call out their prices, as competition mounts. Typically, mid eastern culture suddenly alive with robust vendors.

I quickly took note of the stares and glares as I took random photos. Gulf region has a conservative society,local women rarely walk unaccompanied by male member, let alone flash a camera. It was best to tag along my husband, that would ease and initiate conversations. 

November 2013,  Al Mina market, Abu Dhabi

November 2013,
Al Mina market, Abu Dhabi

And here is the same market on a cool winter evening. Date palm trees in the background make a perfect backdrop to the open-air market. Stalls were teeming with fresh greens, herbs, spring onions and salad vegetables from neighbouring Oman and the oasis city of Al Ain.

Night stalls, Al Mina market.

Night stalls, Al Mina market.

Let me introduce my ‘heroes’ – They were willing to share personal stories and permitted photos.

1 . 

This is Farooqi, aged 60+. As a young man at age 20, he worked in Saudi Arabia, as a construction worker doing back-breaking work. He has moved to UAE  5-7 years ago, and prefers to work in less harsh commitments and temperatures. He has sold watermelons at this stall for  5 years. Farooqi hails from Afghanistan, his family still lives there.  A devout Muslim, he prays 5 times during the day, laying the prayer mat under the stall for mid-day prayers and then folding it neatly back. His delicate laced Muslim prayer cap, has worn with age, but he cherishes it. As he strokes his long silvery beard, characteristic of Muslim culture, I know he fondly remembers his struggle to earn a living and staying away from his family, experiences that have shaped his life.

What  Afghani food does Farooqi like ? ‘ My mother used to bake hot bread on the Tandoor and serve with mutton korma’ he smiles, stroking his beard.

Farooqi mentioned that the shop owner gets about 5- 8 tonnes of water melons from Iran, once a week. It takes 2 days to unload the fruit container from nearby Zayed port. Bangladeshi workers then, load the fruit onto trucks, and offload them at Al Mina market. Farooqi oversees the process from there to the market stalls, and the proper storage of fruit. As an elder, he often counsels younger male workers.                          

November 2013, Afghan Vendor, Al Mina market.

November 2013, Afghan Vendor, Al Mina market.

Big juicy watermelons   Big juicy watermelons

Here are deep oval, juicy watermelons just arrived from Iran. Iranian soil is so fertile, each melon weighs 8-10 kilo-! It’s a summer fruit, and popular Persian /Iranian  fresh juice is often spiked with lemon and mint, both or which are found in abundance. Families enjoy water-melon juice in summer.

2. 

This man is from Yemen. His elaborate head-gear and loose tunic help identify. He refused to look at the camera, in typical reserved mid-eastern culture. The cotton head-gear called Kheffiyeh differes from region to region. It is  loosely folded scarf, used to protect the face and eyes from the harsh sun and sandstorms. When folded into a half, the broad end of triangle is tied around the head,  the pointed corners drop off on shoulders, or are tucked into the folds. Simple Kheffiyeh used daily are devoid of embroidery and tassels, and are made of rough cotton. Kheffiyeh with shiny tassels, richer fabric, embroidered edges are reserved for festive wear or denotes higher status.  Kheffiyeh is also known as Gutrah in other Middle East regions, and is like a turban.

Elaborate head gear of Yemeni helper

3. 

My husband initiated conversations with 2 men from Pakistan to stop them staring curiously at me and the camera. We bought a bag of red onions. Abdullah, aged 30, is from Peshawar, Pakistan. He still misses his family, rustic home and village chatter even after 5-6 years of working here. He always dons traditional shalwar /kurta, like most other Pakistani and Afghani people. This dress is different from the UAE’s white, flowing robe. Like other Muslims, he too grows a beard.

Working in Abu Dhabi for 5 years has not at all been an easy living. But dreams of earning more and providing for his daughter’s marriage and dowry, brought him here. He visits his family in Peshawar once every 2 years. In UAE, living in densely packed dormitories near construction areas, working long hours, back-breaking loading and offloading crates of fruit, inablility to speak English or Arabic are some of the problems he faces. In a bid to repay loans taken in his village and construct his own house on his farm, Abdullah saves every penny of his meagre income and does not complain of the sweltering summer heat. His boss permits him to skype with family once a month on a village portal.

A stall helper from Peshawar, Pakistan.

A stall helper from Peshawar, Pakistan.

4. 

Mohinuddin is from the southern state of Kerala, India. He gladly obliged for a photo, learning I too came from India. He pointed at the various vegetables that came from Oman, Pakistan, and Kerala, India. He has lived in UAE for over 10 years, and is now the co-stall owner, putting in all his savings to start this business. He employs 5 other workers from his home state. He is wearing a Topi , or prayer cap. It has delicate crochet work, and when folded fits into the pocket. Topi is regional of Muslims from Pakistan, Sindh, Malabar Indians and Bangla Desh.

What food does he like? ‘Fresh prawn curry in coconut milk and festive Onam sadya’  he says with a smile. Typical Malabar coastal food. Thank you Mohinuddin – maybe I should take your recipe!

Stall owner from Kerala, India

Stall owner from Kerala, India

5.

Here is another stall owner from Kerala. Dressed in modern simple clothing in shirt /trousers Jameel, introduced himself as care taker of this stall. He prides in  keeping his stall clean and competitive prices. After initial hardship and living in Gulf region on his own, he set up business to enable to bring his wife and family to UAE. His son helps him after school hours. Though he is Muslim, his views are more broad-minded. His wife works at a nearby school, and children help her at home.

And what food do they eat? They like the Arabic cuisine of lamb, meat and rich dairy products.

November 2013, Al Mina market.  Kerala Stall owner.

November 2013, Al Mina market.
Kerala Stall owner.

6.

I was a bit cautious and apprehensive to take photos of local Emirati, as they at times are rude and may get offended.

Emirati men wear long, flowing, white robes called  Dishsadasha or (kandoura) and white head cloth (ghutrah) It is tied back on the head with a clack rope (aqal). Frequently, men will sport a beard and moustache. The women wear long, flowing black Abeyas. The head covering is called Sheyla. They wear long sleeves to cover their arms. Many sport elaborate eye and lip make-up, that much defines the social status. 

What is Emirati food? Well, as the climate and soil are harsh – they depend much on grains, meat and dairy. Camel and goat’s milk is popular in form of ice creams, cheese and milk. Eggs and Khuboos ( roti) are made over hot inverted mud plates, similar to Tandoor ovens. Recently,the city is abundantly greened with Date trees. Guests ( at hotels and homes) are traditional welcomed with a serving of Dates and Arabic coffee, ceremonially poured out from the Dallah or coffee pot.

Emirati men in traditional   clothing - Dishadisha

Emirati men in traditional clothing – Dishadisha

Emirati women in traditional clothing - Abaya and Sheyla head covering

Emirati women in traditional clothing – Abaya and Sheyla head covering

I visited the Al Mina market at night during winter months. The streets adjacent to the stalls were brimming with loads of extra vegetables that come from Oman and Al Ain. Winter vegetables, so fresh! Among the numerous buyers, men and women were Jordanian, Yemenese, Lebanese, Indian, Pakistani and Emiratis. Such a diverse geographical group. However, expat British and Americans would rather shop at the supermarkets, than deal with local customs and people. I guess for ease.

Here is an Emirati man wearing traditional white robe and white head scarf, tied with the black rope.

Emirati dress

7. 

The Pathan from Afghanistan caught my eye, he was an ‘errand boy’ taking quick steps in tune with local customers and finally putting thier purchase into shining expensive cars. Dressed in typical white Shalwar /Kurta and loose turban  he was happily pushing the wheelbarrow turned into pushcart, following an Emirati buyer. As soon as he loaded the groceries into his car, he quickly came over to us, indeed to make another ‘paid’ errand.

‘No, no’ said my husband and began talking to him in Hindi. His eye lit up on hearing ‘Saheb’ speak in Hindi. He proudly introduced himself as an Afghani Pathan….no, no, not a push -cart errand man ! Did I hurt his dignity? Pathan community is very strong and hard-working,and the universal success behind them is to do any work willingly and with dedication. He was new comer to Abu Dhabi, having lived earlier in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, working in building construction.

He pointed to high-rise buildings outside the market and said ‘we sweat in the heat and work in the sun. In our country, we are poor because of the war and terrorists. Our families, girls are scared – but we men are strong.’ What a emotional and practical take on the life and responsibility in shaping Abu Dhabi as well as their own homes in war-torn Afghanistan. My eyes dimmed with tears and I greeted him a Salaam.

What does he like to eat in Abu Dhabi ?

‘Not enough money to enjoy here. But I like to cook meat and pilaf for my fellow mates in the dormitories. Sometimes on festival we cook and eat together, then we dance to songs or go to see cricket match.’

Sturdy, tall Afghani Pathan worker /carrier

Sturdy, tall Afghani Pathan worker /carrier

Human stories, ethnic faces, cultural clothing and food habits, earning the daily bread and survival in distant, harsh lands – what a stunning display of cultural wealth at the Al Mina market.

Have you heard any stories about lives of immigrant workers anywhere else in markets? How does working far away from home affect them ? What changes does it bring to the workers and their families ? Do post your thoughts. 

Till then, let the colours of fruits and vegetables liven your spirits and welcome you to the market.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2015) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

Hyderabad Two Cups of Chai at Monda Market

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Hyderabad

Two Cups of Chai at Monda Market

I met Anwar Habib at the tea shop inside Monda market in Hyderabad. Hesitantly, I stood at a distance observing him. I had risen early and by 7 am I was at the market, ready to capture the market scenes and maybe engage the vendors in conversations. Established more than 100 years ago, Monda market is the biggest fresh produce market in twin cities of Secunderabad and Hyderabad. The rail and bus stations are in proximity, providing transport.

Anwar was busy boiling large amounts of milky tea or chai using an aluminium kettle. With deft manipulation of his hands, the kettle rose off the gas stove, into the swing of his arms to pour frothy cups of tea or chai into plastic cups. The chai would provide instant energy to the waiting vendors.

Aapko chai hona?’ Do you want tea? Habib asked me in typical Hyderabadi Hindi admonishing an awkward smile at me. ‘Jaroor, yes’ I replied, though unsure of the quality and hygiene here. ‘Doo cup ka kitna ? I said handing him Rs.20. ‘One for me and the other for the cauliflower vendor’. That conversation was enough to break the ice and Anwar began telling me his story. In return, I told him my intentions of buying vegetables and capturing photos. Its trading time. Two cups chai for photos.

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The wooden bench created a perfect spot. Seventeen years ago, as a young boy, every morning, Anwar accompanied his father to this market. He would sit alongside friendly vendors and watch the human interactions. His father, a coolie, carried jute sacks on his back from arriving trucks to sorting bays. The family survived on meagre wages, and he hardly attended school, remarked Anwar. Few years later, he began running as an errand boy earning his own pocket-money. Today, he beams with pride and enthusiasm, as a stall owner! ‘It’s a dream come true – to serve the market community and be near his old uncle vendors.’ A better life than a coolie!

Taking the other cup of tea I approached the woman vendor who sat nearby chopping off leaves from fresh white cauliflowers. Clad in purple sari and colourful bangles on her wrists, this Telugu Hindu vendor sported the traditional bright red bottu mark on her forehead.

Amma selling caulifower at Monda market

Amma selling caulifower at Monda market

Both Hindus and Muslims make up the population of Hyderabad. The city was once ruled by Nizams and later the British set up their cantonment here.

Shyly, Amma sipped the tea I offered and smiled at my camera. ‘This vegetable no Hyderabad Amma, special Dili’ she spoke practising her limited English. That explained the unusal price at Rs. 80 /per kilo! Local favourites I know are lady fingers, brinjals, flat beans and gourds raw bananas and chillies.

Next stop was at the variety of cucumbers, in all colours and sizes. Long green ones are called kira, shorter are dondakaya, the ever popular, round -yellow are dosakaya, and the snake length ones are called potlakaya. Andhra food is hot and spicy, laced with plenty of poppu, a tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaf, asatoefida and turmeric. Most of the kira are chopped finely and curried into tangy, spicy chutneys that accompany mounds of hot rice. Ym..mm. I muttered at the thought of chutney!

Yellow Cucumbers and snake gourd

The main market building has low rise covered platforms. It has weathered many years of trade amidst surging crowds. The market was created to cater to the British and Indian army staff over 50 years ago. Today, it lacks basic amenities and insufficient parking for transport. The narrow lanes between the main building and landing bays now teem with haphazard growth of the vendors. Colourful plastic flower decorations that hang from some pillars, cleverly camouflage loose hanging electricity wires. But life goes on….from 5 am to 2 pm. People have little time to waste as they get busy buying, sorting, cleaning and rearranging their tiny spot with the fresh vegetables. They then await their ‘first boni’ or ‘lucky’ customer.

Trudging delicately between shoddy stalls, upside down cartons of vegetables, wet slippery floors and human traffic, I squeezed my way to the other end. A large gold –gilded statue, probably a political leader, stood on the pavement, staring down at the people, as if a constant reminder of empty promises for cleaner, better facilities.

Mounds of green vegetables, curry leaves, raw green bananas and seasonal raw mangoes fill the space. Curry leaves or Karvepakulu are great source of vitamins and minerals and bring out an aromatic flavour when crushed. Today I want to cook my favourite Andhra leafy vegetable –Gongura or red sorrel leaves. ‘Amma, take 6 bunches for Rs.20, said the lady speaking local Telugu. ‘You will not get cheap price near your house’. Trading time again – buy bunches of greens in exchange

for few photos. Amma, pointed to her grand children busy playing with stones in the other  corner, they came only on weekends to help. On other days they attend school, striving for a better slice of life. Wash and dry the Gongura leaves and then fry in spoon of oil. Add lot of garlic and red chillies to the Gongura.’ That, she said was her recipe to cure any mild cold and fever. Such simple, no fuss, instant recipe sharing.

Green and red chillies are a vital part of Andhra cooking. The central plateau of Andhra is reputed for pungent red chillies, a visual treat as they dry out on roofs and verandahs during summer.

Sieving chilles with traditional bamboo seive

Sorting and sieving  chilli with woven bamboo sieve

I took a minute to capture these two women in action – one negotiating the price and the other sorting freshly arrived chilli using a woven, traditional bamboo sieve. When tossed in the air lightly, the  chillies are separated from the fragments and dirt. It’s also used effectively to clean rice paddy, grains and nuts. Today  traditional sieves are woven and coloured in contemporary style to adorn kitchens.

Traditional bamboo seive

Traditional bamboo sieve

Returning to the chai wallah or tea man to say goodbye, his friendly nature points me to the flower wallah at the entrance of the market, beyond the fruit vendors and spice shops, that have their own history.

As the festive season of Dussera puja arrives, price of flowers shoot up. A basket of bright orange marigolds that usually sell for Rupees. 400 will now cost the vendor Rs. 600 or Rs. 700. Flowers arrive from neighbouring states of Coorg and Mysore, from the cool hill stations.

Mounds of fresh marigolds sitting in bamboo baskets

‘Beautiful garlands for your hair, Miss, and you can offer them at puja’ shouts Yelliah, the flower wallah. Holding up fragrant, white jasmine malai, neatly plaited strands, he beckons me. These flowers arrive from neighbouring states tied in tender green banana leaves to retain freshness. Once the leafy packets are opened,  fragrance bursts and fills the morning air, purifying it of all the staleness and pollution present on the streets. Surely, the pretty white garlands dotted with red rose buds would make a perfect decor at the puja altar.

Dainty white Jasmine garlands

Dainty white Jasmine garlands

Time, language, caste and creed of people is no barrier for trade and business at this market. Just buying 2 cups of chai, opened up conversations with the vendors, and I became wiser about their life and work, their woes and miseries of long, hard-working hours and their dreams for a better life for their next generation. Photo taking turned them into instant ‘ heroes’ this morning, providing brief respite from their mundane work, bringing smiles on their dry faces.

What can I say about learning from  interactions at this market ? Work hard, be dedicated to your profession, create better opportunities and transform yourself . Just like Anwar, from a back-breaking coolie to Tea stall holder. And his next generation will pour cups of chai …next time at the office desk ?

Service with a smile !

Service with a smile !   Pouring frothy tea

Mumbai – The City with a Heart

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Chalo Mumbai, let’s go to Mumbai, is a phrase commonly uttered by rich and poor. For this is a city where one needs determination and a vibrant spirit to live life. Mumbai is a city to be experienced and understood with an open heart. It has the mix of magic and masala or spice. To me, Mumbai is home, a place filled with childhood memories, tugging at my mother’s saree pallav and jostling the crowded markets of Girgaum and Dadar. Both these markets are heavily crowded and bursting with cloth, fresh vegetables and seasonal fruit, especially mango.

The routine summer holiday visits to Dadar and Vile Parle markets with my mother, carrying along cloth bags or pishvi to tuck in seasonal lemons and mangoes has left a lasting and energetic impulse in me. Till date, I am always heading to city or country markets, wherever I travel.

‘Chaalo market’ I say to my old mother now, still tugging her saree pallav jokingly, as she recounts a  rainy day adventure, when I sat atop a push cart of juicy seasonal mangoes, covering my head with flimsy plastic sheet to ward of the rains.

Outside the Vile Parle east train station, the street market is a bustling activity centre all year round. Suburban markets are strategically placed outside very train station in Mumbai. Bhajiwallah’s, vendors begin their day early by unloading truck loads of baskets arriving from outskirts of Mumbai. Stalls are quickly covered with wet jute cloth that serve as perfect air-conditioners in a hot, humid Mumbai. Colourful large umbrellas shade fresh stock from the sun.

Makeshift stalls selling fresh vegetables

Makeshift stalls selling fresh vegetables

Repetition of produce makes it easy to strike bargains, but the vendors stand guard and their community bonds to protect each other. Numerous  stalls of tomatoes, onions, cabbage, beans, cauliflower and carrots line both sides of the wide street, making it dense with the commuting traffic and the women folk in sarees. I wonder how more than 30 odd vendors selling similar vegetables, compete with price and yet make a profit?  Tip of the day: Walk around a small area to find out the prices and compare. Then, go to your regular  Bhajiwallah, and request the price you want. Mostly, he will reward your loyalty with the best affordable price. A philosophical lesson.

At the other side of the street, juicy over ripe tomatoes were thrown as rubbish on the floor. A pile of unwanted leafy cabbage, cauliflower stems and rubbish plastic bags, crumpled paper turned the market area into an instant dump. All this for the want of proper dust bins, precious time of the vendors, and surging crowds and proper hygiene facilities and sense!

In Mumbai, be warned of the crowds and their quick and nifty hands!  Hmm…no wonder I was warned of loosing my money purse.

Flower garlands for sale. Tied by a widow who has learned to make her living.

Flower garlands for sale. Tied by a widow who has learned to make her living.

Vendors in Mumbai are called Bhaaiyya, or brother, as in North India. Most of them are migrants from northern states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, to eke out a better living and make extra fast money to send home. This helps to pay off heavy debts incurred in daughter’s dowries. irrigating and providing for dry lands, and making better concrete and brick houses. The daily struggle of existence in this big and fast city has its own share of problems for them – no families, strange community, rising expenses, and shortage of space and water. One gain, other loss.

Clutching on to my purse ever so tightly, I continued walking to the end of the market, to brightly lit shops and food stores. Maduram stores has made history for its long existence as a provision and cloth store. Cotton bed sheets, chequered Madras towels and fancy handkerchiefs are sold on the street, rather on the footpath! A migrant Madrasi vendor shouts in his language ‘We have paid the policeman Rs. 300  this week’ he boasts of the seemingly high price paid to the local policeman. ‘This is his weekly pocket-money –and he gives us permission to occupy this small space. No trouble this week, I am assured’

Deals struck between illegal footpath stalls holders and local policemen are commonplace in Mumbai. A win –win solution for all, isnt’ it ? ‘Challo Mumbai’ I hear the echo in my head, just like all these migrant vendors who have come to Mumbai to earn a living.

My next stop is at the Vasai Vallah vendor. I remember my mother patronizing this Marathi vending community who commute by train from Vasai, northern Mumbai and sell farm fresh vegetables in suburban markets. Vegetables from Vasai are popular in the community as they cater to special taste and cuisine.Brinjals and bananas come in at least 5 different varieties. Palak, Methi, Cuka the popular green leafy vegetables are very farm fresh, and not sprinkled with water as with the other Bhajjiwalahs. The  Vasai farmers boast of a local co-operative society that helps them gather knowledge and expertise in farming, research and marketing.

Bananas varieties that lace a Marathi kitchen are :red Rajelis for making a coconut filled sweet treat, small yellow Velchi and Sonekali are aromatic and soft to swallow. “Kanda Mala – kai bhav deta Bhau?’  I ask the Vasai vallah in local Marathi. These small sweetish white salad onions, are neatly tied necklace with a jute string. The white bulbs look like festive bulbous balloons. The Kanda Mala is traditionally hung from the wooden kitchen ceiling, in typical wada or ancient homes.  Breaking away one onion at a time as an accompaniment to Jowar Bhakri, a traditional cereal Roti, it is the perfect way to savour the sweet zing of these salad Onions.

Its’ payment time, murmurs the old Vasai Vallah. I tuck deep into my shopping bag in search of my purse. Extra fidget and a push. My face tells another story, my heart beat rises. I show him how the underside of my bag has been neatly cut and my purse stolen! Skilled perfection! I stand bewildered unable to pay the vendor. He looks on, wondering if this is a gimmick or truth as he is aware of such encounters in crowded markets.

Slowly, a faint smile appears on the Vasai Vallah’s lips and his words leave me numb and humble. ‘Udaya yaa ani paise dhya, me roj ithech basato..…khup varshe jhalii’ he proposes to me.  “Come back tomorrow surely and pay me, I have been sitting here, at this place, for years.’ he said softly.

I nodded my head in deep reverence to the spirit of this old man. Today, I understood the patronizing between the vendor and consumer ( my mother) and the trusting bond it creates. The weaker society is so richer than the rich, comes to light with this small act of kindness.

Mumbai – its people struggle for a living but have a big heart. Suddenly the teeming market with its array of green red and yellows vegetables, soft rustling of the sarees as women walk, and the distant din of the hurried vendors seems far away. My head is filled with pride for this city, my city, Mumbai!

Shanti Bai - the lady vendor making and selling flower garlands - Smile please

Shanti Bai – the lady vendor making and selling flower garlands – Smile please

 Have you visited any market in Mumbai? What impression did it leave on your mind?

 

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