Tag Archives: Travel

Fresh market tales

Rythu or Farmer’s Market at Alwal, Hyderabad


Close to the Alwal railway station, nestled quietly away from the main road lies an expanse of green. The municipal authorities have allocated some land here for the local Rythu market. Set in this quiet oasis, on the outskirts of the busy city, this semi rural ambience was an attractive invitation to explore the space.Needless to say, the rain washed greenery and a few cattle and poultry moving around made it picture perfect!alwal grassland

The agricultural development committee of Andhra Pradesh State began Rythu or Farmer’s market in 1999 as a social initiative. With a purpose of bringing the farm produce directly to the consumer and removing any  middle men and price negotiations the markets became a safer and healthier option for local business. Now, every city in the state is allocated a certain area on a semi permanent basis or a weekly basis where Rythu operate. The weekly ones shift from one area to another within a certain kilometre distance. Vegetable farmers or committees fix the selling price of produce on a daily basis. A notice board is placed at the entrance of the market (Language: Telugu). The committee appoints a presiding officer and other personnel for upkeep of matters, hygiene of area, sanitary requirements.Distribution of seeds, fertilizers and farm knowledge and support are also given to the small scale farmers who enroll in this scheme.

alwal market entrance

Inside the semi open, semi constructed area there was a generous feel of space made magical by a canopy of trees. There were well designated, cemented slabs made for each vendor. At the far end were slabs were devoid of produce and vendors, but the bright red painted background walls depicting ” muggulu or rangoli” traditional patterns looked very inviting.

Makeshift stalls with plastic sheets tied to bamboo poles made competition stiff and the walk through was narrowed. Squatting on available side space, vendors pitched a slightly lower price, but the produce too was (maybe) a day old. Beware! plainclothes middle men touts were seen walking around demanding their share of money! So not all is quiet and controlled, in spite of an agricultural committee and officer allotted to these areas for supervision.

stalls at market

Seeing farm fresh produce and hearing a constant buzz, is such a delightful market experience! I stood admiring some green vegetables: green beans, cluster beans, chillies and bhindi or lady finger…each a different green! Stacked in mounds on the platform, they were taken out of the transporting plastic reinforced carry bags. Each could carry about 10 kilos of vegetables, at the least. Brought in from local farms around their villages in Upprapally, Gajvel and other areas, the vendors collected and paid for the produce on a weekly basis,then loaded it onto hired tempo vans and brought them to the market.

Most worked as couple pairs or family help, they lifted the bags themselves from the parking area to the sheltered slabs half a kilometre away. Here they sat daily from 8 am to 3 pm, bringing along their tiffin carriers for a mid day meal.( I would have loved to take a peek into that too:)…another day perhaps!)

Covid 2020 had its own impact. ( Notice how everyone is wearing cloth masks!).Produce was plenty, but lock down restrictions meant, some vegetables were wasted or could not reach the market. Some was sold at lower price within the rural areas or sold in designated city areas by young vendors operating mobile vans and having a police permit.

I chatted with a few women vendors who looked curiously each time I raised my mobile phone camera. What was their daily routine? What was the impact of Covid on home and economic condition? What time do they rise each morning to put time into their business? Who helps them at home?

Some ignored my conversations, others narrated about tough time without money, still other women laughed they missed the routine of travelling in and out of home, and meeting fellow vendors. Life in the new normal is for one and all! If we educated ones are dealing with virtual classes and learning moments, they too are learning to use news on the mobile, save money to top up charge, set aside time and money to seek help with functioning of mobile phones and use them not just for talking but being more productive with business needs. One vendor inquired if I was a newspaper writer, another noticed my different Telegu accent ( though I do speak the language quite well) yet another told me off straight in Hindi not to take photos of the local papayas that she procured going from farm to farm in her neighbourhood. Hindi /Urdu are the other official languages of Telengana state, besides Telugu.

Mallama and her elderly husband aged 60 + years have been regular sitters on the outside area, awaiting their licence permit to be able to sit on the stands inside the premises. She sells seasonal vegetables, and in the monsoon picks up the corn baskets from the farmers. She sells about 5-6 kilos each day returning home in the late afternoon to clean house and cook.

As I purchased some berakaya , ridge gourd a highly nutritious vegetable and a local popular , I noticed the colourful glass bangles on this vendor. They fit so snugly on her wrists, she was able to continue her household work and maybe once in 3-4 months she visited the bangle seller for a change. “That is some luxury! ” she laughed, talking in local Telugu language. “Berakaya chutney is made with lots of green chillies, tamarind and coriander. Put it on a mound of hot steaming ration rice…and you have a good meal!” She added.

On my way out, I picked up seasonal guavas and some local (not hybrid variety) of papaya from these two lovely, chatty vendors. They posed,wanted to see their photos and talked about how their young children are constantly using mobiles! A changing face of rural India! And the elder communities grapple with why /how/when/if…..of the mobile phones and apps. 

That’s all for now about my first hand experience into buying fresh and helping the farming community in my own small way.

What is it that touched your heart while reading this post?

What experience can you relate to in your own country with the vendors?

Do leave your comments for a good exchange of news.

Fasten Seat Belts! It’s Lockdown. Recharge with Positive Actions


Chapter 6 of the Bhagvad Gita (a 700 verse Hindu scripture)   elaborately discusses the Mind.  “He who is the master of his mind is a sage, while he who is a slave to his mind is a fool.”

ie. if one controls the mind and channelizes its energy into positive actions, it can create a fulfilling life, calm and creative. Think of the great artists, writers and engineers who single pointedly focused and put their energy into a positive goal. If one cannot arrest the monkey mind it will be drunk with the wine of desires, quotes Swami Vivekanandaji and Adi Shankaracharya, the great Hindu philosopher and saint compares the mind to a huge Tiger, lurking in our backyard!  

Covid 19 lockdown time has brought upon all of us a ‘new normal’ and each of us has a story to tell. A change of mindset and positive thinking is necessary to tide over these challenging times. Those who are blessed financially and health wise have been lucky, but I send out a prayer each day to the needy, aged and below poverty line people. Lockdown has  become our new teacher, in a new garb of technology. Keeping the mind calm and well fed with nutritious thoughts will help us pass through the day.

Change is the only constant in Nature.

Positive Growth and change in Nature

Has sheltering at home become a cramped, claustrophobic space or a time and space to bond with family, share household duties and learn some new hobbies? How has this time impacted you? What have you done for a change?

Initially I was restless, always waiting to pack my bags to visit family. Retirement and lockdown created frustration, anxiety and a sense of ‘whats next’? It brought me SO MUCH free time, I did not know how to channelize it (other than just house duties and exercise). Well, “stash away those bags and dig open my craft and hobby materials”‘ I said to myself. Get going, stay calm, be happy for what you have NOW!

Having a hobby to focus on forces us to take a break from stressful activities and negative thinking. Without a reason to take a break, we may unwittingly overwork ourselves to the point of exhaustion. Indoor hobbies do wonders for children too – drawing, craft, reading is much better than staring at gadjets. Studies have shown that the best hobbies for reducing stress include knitting, gardening, reading, and yoga. At our home, hubby digs up soil and feeds the plants in the garden, I calm down with Nature craft.

What is your hobby? How do you feel when engaged in it?

Crochet: Spring and Summer Flowers

Here is my lockdown project inspired by our blossoming garden. An old silk saree is being converted into a day quilt, lined with an old bedsheet. Old is gold (memories)…and incredibly soft!


Another ongoing project is editing my older posts. Phew! as a novice, 5 years ago the posts written have no clarity of thought, nor a good flow of language. Well, I’m glad to have come out of the cocoon into an emerging butterfly! Thank you dear readers. I now have over 250 followers and more than 40 narratives about various markets I’ve visited. It makes me more responsible to write better, isn’t it?

My trip down memory lane brought out few posts, dear to me and friends, as I edited. Remembering those far away travels, meeting friends who hosted and cooked for us, surely they were a beacon of light on our travel journey.

Summer in Canada:Maple Syrup,Summer Fruit and Outdoor Kiosk

Beachfront Weekend Market at Manly, Sydney

World Palate Recipes: New Zealand Carrot Cake(2)

Daily Post Challenge Close Up: Parsi Saree Borders

Focus 12: Types of Markets

With Zoom, whatsapp, Insta, Meet/hangouts and other online portals coming up with a variety of free classes in Art, Music, pencil sketching, Scriptural discourses and story telling sessions, it’s a whole new ‘virtual’ world I have been swimming in – I even got Zoom fatigue within few weeks, felt dizzy staring at the screens, and saving multiple passwords. Haha…

That brings me to story telling via Zoom. Now that real-life classrooms are shut down for a while, rural children in India are being ‘virtually’ engaged by NGO’s and other tellers. I climbed onto the train journey to keep connected with story telling, rural children and technology. It did feel weird without hearing any noisy distractions from children, rather it was ‘use the chatbox to put your comments, or type raise hand or thumbs up’ Engaging or disengaging interactions? What are your experiences using virtual classrooms and meets?

Here are a few links for stories I told:

https://www.worldoftales.com/Asian_folktales/Filipino_folktale_45.html#gsc.tab( Turtle and Monkey)

Panchatantra wisdom tales,

Sang Kanchil, the clever mouse deer @Malaysian animal stories DashaAvatara of Krishna @ mythological stories

Australian aboriginal tales of Krangalang the crab and Tiddalick the greedy frog.

Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories


These are some drawings made by children, using Aboriginal theme of painting with dots.

What books or podcasts have you been listening to?

Do you have any story /link to share with us from your culture? 

That’s all for now. Stay safe, stay positive, be productive.

            If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal.

                                Not to people.

Albert Einstein



The Mystic Land of Rishikesh…To Market or Not?


Jai Maa Gange! Har har Gange.

DevBhoomi it is, as referred to by locals of Rishikesh. To the western world it is the mystic land of Yog and meditation. The land of the pure, revered, holy river Ganga (not Ganges!). Since ancient times, sadhus and munis have wandered here, meditated in the hills and caves in search of the Truth. It is said having a dip in the river, washes away all negativity and sins. No wonder the river is popularly reffered to as Mother Ganga! ‘Jai Maa Gange‘ is the popular chant heard everywhere.

So what brought us to Rishikesh? The idea of immersing ourselves into the International Yog Festival and rejuvenating and heal our bodies and mind. (www.internationalyogafestival/rishikesh.com) Every evening it was purely magical to witness the spectacular ‘aarti’ by the riverfront. The blowing of the conch, ringing of bells,  chanting and lighting wick lamps and finally singing the Jai Maa Gange aarti transported us to another world of peace and harmony.

Go to the Triveni Ghat to witness the best aarti. And browse the market near the Ghat.’ suggested the organizers . ‘Madam, don’t forget to eat fruit chaat and hot samosas. You can buy gur and Jhangore in the local market there’ he grinned.

Here is a recipe of this local delicacy we enjoyed every afternoon. Jhangore, finger millet is widely grown on the terrace  slopes of Uttarakhand. Its cuisine is highly nutritious and rich, catering to the winter season.

Jhangore ki Kheer

The popular markets are: Triveni Ghat, Lakshman Jhuula, Ram jhuula and Parmarth Niketan street market.

Triveni Ghat market:

I shared an auto ride from Munni ki Reti area to the main entrance of the market at a cost a mere Rs. 20/-Bonus point – One gets to meet friendly locals and have a chat.

The decorated archway adorned with Hindu gods stands tall guarding the main entryway of the street. Numerous small shops fill up both sides of the street. ( Sorry, I did not notice the street names). Sarees, wedding attire, shops selling woollen shawls, caps and children’s winter wear, belts, colourful bangles, belts and…much more.

‘But where can I buy some wool and some jaggery or gur? ‘ I inquired. ‘Turn into the adjacent lanes’ directed some locals. Aha…so here I was in the midst of a local market selling every day needs: cheap clothes, plastic buckets, toys, slippers, puja items like idols, chandan, kumkum, agarbatti, colourful bundles of wool spilling onto the floor as its only a seasonal need. I was greedy enough to buy yarn too, as it was much cheaper and better than what I would get back home. Knitters and crochet enthusiasts are NEVER satisfied with their stashes secure in various places at home. And so I have heard.

Image result for crochet quotes sayings

Courtesy: runnybabitcrafts.wordpress.com

Time for some street food. If its prepared fresh, no tummy upsets, I was told.

Mouth watering, piping hot aloo tikki (potato patties) served with tangy tamarind chutney.

Deep fried samosas and Dal kachori is another winter favourite.

Here it is finally walking into the street…Gur ki bhel (mounds of jaggery made from boiling sugarcane juice. This is a winter product in North India, where sugarcane is cash crop. There were push carts with roasted groundnuts, fresh made pop corn /makki pop, sweet Petha (white gourd) and all time favourite Til ki revadi ( sesame seed and jaggery candies).

Laxman Jhoola Market:

This iconic area is extremely popular with tourists, both Indian and International. The iron jhoola or bridge was constructed over the holy river connecting Pauri district with Tehri district.

Legend has it that Sri Ram’s younger brother Lakshman, (refer to the epic Ramayan) is supposed to have crossed at this spot into the forest during their exile period, using a jute rope. Hence the religious importance of this place. Many tourists and pilgrims and followers of Yog and meditation throng to the temples and markets here.

This market is as colourful as the tourists, a bit pricier too. Yog mats, loose clothing, Boho crochet bags, shawls, silver trinkets, embroidered bags, books on spirituality and regional birds, brass idols and bells, conches and rudraksha malas….the market is just a haven for tourists! In return, the locals make brisk business, meet tourists, even learn foreign languages. ( we met a young school going girl selling candies by the bridge. She said she could say hello and farewell in English, German and Dutch…whereas Hindi is the regional / school language).

Some tourist women happily posed for me, later they took me along to enjoy murmura ki bhel (puffed rice savoury). Yumm…

Street market near Parmarth Niketan

Internationally popular Parmarth Niketan, is a popular yoga ashram and has study programmes all round the year. Situated at the river front it makes for an ideal meditative walk. The narrow street market that leads up to it, is usually crowded with tourists and International attendees.

Ayurvedic oils, medicines, healing Patanjali products, music CD’s and spiritual books make up for most of the shops. Others shops selling trinkets, beads, rudrakshas, yoga pyjamas, exotic Pashmina shawls can be found here. Its such a vibrant, buzzing but intensely clustered market. There is no dearth of food joints…so do Yog and well…beware of what you eat!

Time to head back for yoga and meditation. Think twice at any market, before you buy. Is there a need or is it just greed?

Dear readers, I value all your comments. So do drop a line and share your experiences on the topic.

Image result for patanjali yoga sutras quotes

Courtesy: Patanjali AZ Quotes

Photo Essay: Flowers – A Way of Life, Art and Business.


Indian culture is almost incomplete without flowers. Flowers have an important value in tradition, culture and religion. Spiritually too flowers and blooms add positive effect to home and mental well being. They signify love, beauty, happiness and  generosity. Give a bouquet of flowers to a patient, friend or a loved one and see that instant wide smile.

     Flowers take the tears of weeping night, and give them to the 

                              sun for the day’s delight. 

Joseph Cotter.

From dawn to sunset it’s a hectic time for flower gatherers and sellers. Flower picking, sorting, packaging and delivering to markets and then making garlands and selling them is a long day’s process. Whether they are used for decorating homes, for festivals, weddings, adding grace to a bride’s hairdo or offerings in a temple, flowers find their way into every Indian home! In Ayurveda and medicine also flowers of Basil (Tulsi), Coriander and Jasmine are widely used. Many a Bollywood song and dance sequence are in the midst of blooms. ‘Phool khile hai gulshan gulshan’ and phool tumhe bheja hai khaat mein describe the beauty of blooming gardens and sending flowers in love letters.

A trip to Bengaluru flower market

Malleshwaram and adjacent Yeshwantapuram street markets in Bengaluru, India were buzzing at 10 am. Women vendors busy completing arranging flowers, men making garlands of 3-4 kg. each, decorating them with glitter, and customers who wanted to offer flowers to the nearby temples made for a colourful sight. This place is not near the famous KR market, which is in the heart of the city).

Thanks to my dear friends who took me and guided me with many a local story and flower name as we busied ourselves with photo taking.

Street market, Malleshwaram, Bengaluru

Mounds of coral coloured Kanakambaram, yellow tiny petaled chamanti or crysanthemum, fragrant white malligai, pinkish white jaji malligai, petals of fragrant red roses, blossoms of orange marigolds or banti phulu and other deep purple crispy flower heads, the scene was surely a photographer’s delight! Forget the shabbily erected wooden platforms and petals strewn on the floor underneath, both men and women sellers had no time to waste looking at us with our cameras. They sensed we were not the ‘interested’ buyer!


Lakshmiamma and Narsaiiah are two such vendors who rise early at 2 am each day and buy flowers from the main market haggling for the right price of the day. Back home with heavy baskets, they begin to sort, pack and make malai for selling, along with family or others from community. By 7 am they have few baskets ready, lined with tender green banana leaves to wrap the flowers in. Off to the market, to set up shop, carrying their tiffin food. They (like other vendors) will spend much of the day sitting crouched or cross legged busy tying assorted flowers to make garlands and sell.

‘ It’s Friday today, day for praying to the Devi goddess‘ reminded my friend. Prices go up, especially for flowers used for temple offerings – like malli, kanakambaram, red hibiscus, lotus and Tulsi These flowers are associated with Indian Gods and Goddesses ( mind you, there are hundred different ones!) but Lakshmi, Vishnu, Saraswati, Kanak Durga and Maa Kali to name a few.

Flower garlands for temples and weddings

We watched a group of men working fast and concentrated on stringing white tuberose flowers. They inserted a long needle into the tubular end towards making a huge garland. To make it circular, each time 8 flowers were stranded diagonally. After measuring about 3 inches in height, they would then add 1-2 inches of rose flowers and folded assorted green leaves for a colour change. A garland would take 2 people about 4 hours and would weigh between 2-5 kg. Sold at Rs. 500 to Rs. 800 per piece, depending upon the weight and type of flowers the  garlands are truly works of creativity, besides being a photgrapher’s or artists delight.

Next stall a vendor delightfully called us to see specially crafted small ‘veni’ or malai made with tightly closed white buds. These veni are specially given to married women and young brides to decorate their hairdo’s on festive occasions. Extra thoughtful touch of this street artist to tie the buds in coloured threads of blue, green and red to match the wearer’s traditional saree. Sold at Rs. 70 each,for a small piece, they were special.

”Çome, come”….waved another vendor, eager for us to take some exotic photos. Bright pink rose petals tied tightly to form a long pendular piece and finished off with rolled tubular green leaves.’Where did you learn this?’I inquired. “From my father came the reply, I used to sit with him after school hours, now I own this business.”

Such artists find work ONLY if there is a customer! And exotic garlands and bouquets of flowers do not come cheap, and depend on the climate and season.

The traditional ever fragrant malligai malai was in circular mounds, flowers came from Belgaum or far away Madurai, world famous for these flowers. ( Even BBC travel magazine has an article dedicated to it.) Each ‘more’ or hand length sold for about Rs. 30, price adjusted higher for the festivals and puja season. These fragrant white jasmine strings are most popular with women. At times they are interspersed with rose petals, orange buds or green fragrant marjoram leaves to give a colourful twist.

Bride’s jada malai or garland for bridal hair do.

Not just flowers, but tender coconut leaves are crafted into Thoran used to decorate doors, a wedding dias or mandap and temple gateways. Deft hands and time tested experience is required to be able to source the best leaves and twist them as needed. ( I’ve seen elaborate similar craft in S.E. Asia, especially in Bali for temple decorations).

coconut leaves thoran or pendular hangings

This write up just cannot be complete without the highlight of our outing. Saving the best to the last!

There was a (trained) Indian bull commonly called Kole Basava parading the busy street, and his care taker played tunes on his pipani or shehnai. The bull was adorned with embellishments, trinkets and ankle bells and clothes, donated by people in exchange of blessings. Strings of colourful flowers- red, roses, yellow crysanthemums, white jasmine were tied around his neck and horns, the simplicity and purity of flowers was Mother Nature’s best way to decorate the animal.

We took lots of photos with this ‘special’ animal, as the Kole Basava or Gangi Reddu ( as called in Andhra) visits homes and market people only around Sankranti festival. The caretaker played some old traditional tune for us on his pipani, in exchange for some alms. The Kole Basava are a surviving folk art form, and the community lives on alms. The bull is taken from village to village, house to house and they collect and survive on the donated grain and clothing. The bull is much revered to date, as people seek his blessings.

At the end of our visit it was time to tuck some fresh malligai into my hair known for its natural perfume. The trip however would be incomplete without the traditional Udipi dosa and filter kapi. Rightly so, it was the next stop.

Do tell us if you have visited a flower market and what did you see there ? Or leave your comments on this article if it has interested you. 

For another flower market see here.


Post Cards from Tonga: Life on an Island


If you’ve heard the name Tonga, you will immediately think of  deepest blue seas, soft sandy beaches, and swaying coconut fronds! Are’nt most islands like that? Well, yes and no. Each place is unique and Tonga in the Pacific Ocean is where you can swim with the enormous, yet gentle migrating whales! So informs P.

Well, after a BIG swim P decided to head to the local Nuku’Alofa market to find some fresh local vegetables. Maybe a walk in the sunshine would dull the bobbing in her head due to boat rides.

Underwater Mother Whale and calf, Tonga.

Here are some photos for a slice of Polynesian life.

From hand-made woven Pandanus leaf baskets, to Tapa mats, bunches of ripe bananas, tuber vegetables to whale-bone artistry, sea shell artifacts the Nukuálofa Tongan market has it all. Crowded and buzzing like all other markets, there seems to be a carefree calm spirit. Maybe the Sea (Moana) watch’eth and protect them all.

Bunches of yellow – green bananas are major produce, being tropical wholesome fruit. Hmmm.. do they use the oblong leaves of the plant ? In India, eating on the banana/plantain leaf is a traditional feature, in Malaysia fish and rice are cooked in small leaf pockets called ketupat. 

The long, brown tuber roots are Taro -the only local grown vegetable. Taro is much revered in Polynesian culture. Nothing else grew here. Washed and cleaned the root is hammered into a loose reddish white paste and has a mild flavour.

With the coming of colonials and recent migrants exotic vegetables like cabbage, tomatoes and lettuce, Chinese leafy vegetables find their place alongside local produce.


Coconut trees grow in sandy soil and need plenty of water, thus commonly found on most islands. Almost every part of the the tree finds use. There are many stories woven around the coconut tree, though each culture has its own version.

The coconut tree legend

Being an island, life in Tonga revolves around the Sea. The Moana is deeply revered. Ancient Polynesians were great navigators who traveled the high swells to hunt for whales and other fish, that was staple diet. They used the night sky and stars as their compass.

Effectively then, womenfolk busied themselves in making artifacts from whalebone, wood and sea treasures. Fancy a big sea shell carving? Or a musical clinking chime of seas shell to  hang in your home garden? Polynesian wood mask carving and bowls would make a treasured souvenir too! Besides promoting local Art.

You can’t miss these stalls at the market. THAT is what attracts the global visitor ensuring a peek into local culture. Special fine woven mats Ta’óvala worn by men and womenfolk are tied at the waist for ceremonies or funerals. Made with strips of thick coarse Pandanus leaves and patterned with a distinct red border it can take up to 2-3 months of preparation and weaving. They are generally passed from one generation to another.

See the starched paper or beaten leaves with Aboriginal drawings? Mostly sea creatures like turtles, fish, mermaids, Sea God and waves are sketched and inked.

What then is life on an island? Away from buzz of city pressure. In reverence with Nature, listening to the sound of the Sea, of sunrise and moon rise making poetry in the sky, of soft steps on the sand making temporary foot marks in time, of scanning the coast for the swish of fish tails, of communal celebrations of Life.

Yes! Don’t you , the city dweller dream of it?

Have you come across any cultural story in the Polynesian islands? Do share with us readers.


Beachfront Weekend Market at Manly, Sydney


Blue skies, warm weather, a long weekend in April were the perfect conditions to enjoy a day out at Manly beach, north Sydney. ( Yes, Sydney ‘Time Out’ listed its weekend markets, which was a bonus). Excitement and anticipation swelled as we waited in the long snaking queues at Circular Quay Ferry Wharf along with other tourists and Sydney siders for a ferry ride across the harbour.

At Manly wharf, eager holiday crowds descended on to the main street, heading towards the blue sea and surf. This quaint suburb had its very own distinct architecture. Art deco buildings of 1800 -1900’s had been given a fresh paint, buildings at street corners were shaped angular and balconies were round shaped. The main promenade or ‘The Corso’ has had multiple redevelopments. The local Council takes pride and interest in promoting local culture and heritage, which in turn stimulates business and tourism. The weekend market is one such project.

We passed many shops selling ice creams, sun hats, sunglasses and Billabong surf and beach wear. There were  travel agents selling flight brochures, a Cole’s supermart well stocked with groceries, and some other sundry items.

In the 1860’s there were just two or three hotels here and few cafes along the sea front. Today, Manly is a rich and bustling tourist suburb with many more charming beachfront bars and restaurants. White shade giving parasols and outdoor chairs made for a picture perfect scenic seafront.

Away from this frenzy quietly tucked away on Sydney street, was the colourful weekend market. With so many people there…it sure was a buyer’s and browser’s haven!

Care for a Hawaiian shirt or hand-made beaded jewellery? Soft smelling soaps or Art deco posters? The market had something for everyone! Else…head out to the azure blue waters and soft sands just across.

I took a carefree slow walk, peering almost at each stall. The open air market had a mixed smell – sea breeze mingling with aroma of roasted coffee beans wafting from the nearby cafes. How intoxicating! Stalls displayed a variety of loose printed shirts, beachwear in white, blue and coral colours, sunglasses, books and exclusive beeswax paper used to cover food items . There was handmade bead jewellery, bracelets of shells and raffia strings. Catering to the hungry crowds – the makeshift mobile vans at the far end of the street turned into fast selling food stalls. Caramel, boysnberry and pistacchio Gelato, Turkish Gozleme that are spinach and cheese wraps, burgers and sandwiches, hot fries, ham strips and Mexican nachos. “No one goes hungry. Come on, tuck in” called the vendors.

I settled in for a cappuccino and some handmade hazelnut chocolates. Hmmm…aromatic and the crunch complemented each other.

Want a Hawaiian print shirt? A soothing scented hand-made soap? Or souvenirs and paintings from locals ? Or just have a chat with one of the stall holders and hear about their way of life. Aren’t markets a great place to walk and talk?

Visit: http://www.timeout.com/sydney/shopping/manly-markets to know more and plan your trip.

Smelling the fresh seaside air, listening to live music in the background, smiling at children licking their ice creams while frolicking around water fountains, around this vibrant market was just so relaxing. I carried no bag, no intentions to buy.

But what is a place if you do not interact with its people? So…I introduced myself to the man behind the crafted books. “My name’s Bob, I’m a retired engineer” he said in thick Australian accent extending a friendly handshake. “Look, I have something special for you, Indian lady” he said as we exchanged more notes. ” Here is a lovely Indian dictionary for you, can you read it to me?” …..And as we re read…he turned pages to the discrete carved out hollow within! ” This is where you can hide your cash and put the book on the library shelf! ” he smiled and insisted he gifts me the book safe.


The lady at next stall was selling sweet-scented hand-made soaps and candles. “Making these is therapy for me, on weekdays I work as a Prison Manager” she said. “‘ The job is tough and compelling.” She has been a regular seller here for past two years and enjoys the market’s ambience and summer sea breeze. She is getting queries from customers for more product range and is planning to set up an online business. “Happy Easter” we wished each other.

I soon mingled into the ”other” seaside crowd. The soft sands, thundering waves and frothy foam seemed so magical. At one end were professional surfers and paddlers, at the other children and non swimmers gleefully wet their feet with froth and cool waters.

Manly – a slice of life for each holiday maker. Shopping street and cafes, the market and the seaside. What’s your interest?Come, live it up!

For another Sydney market, at the scenic Sydney harbour see here

Have you been to a beachfront market place? What curios caught your eye there? Do leave your comments below.

Post Cards from Pune: Historic Tulsi Baug Market


History, tradition, crowds! That sums up this market in Pune, India. From being a barter trade market, to a temple area adjoined with shops, to becoming a bustling economic zone and a tourist spot …Tulsi Baug market has evolved generously over the years.

Apart from the crowded streets lined with everything households need, the area evokes old charm and rings bells of the Peshwai buildings and wadas. Carved with timber ceilings and lattice railings, low arches and high airy balconies they dot the surrounding areas that were once home to the ministers and officials. Peshwas ruled and designed Pune territories under the rule of majestic warrior Sivaji Maharaj.

Bajirao road, Laxmi road and Shanipur road are the trio of entry points to this centrally located market area. Today each road caters to specific sale of items – vegetables and fruits, kitchen needs, puja items and traditional clothes.

At the heart of the area stands the Ram-Sita temple, built around 1756 by the then ruling Peshwa. Its 150 m golden conical shikhar or spire can be prominently seen from the adjacent streets. History and architecture students stand in awe to admire the simple grandeur of wooden pillar work and lime stucco work  ( the temple is now under renovation and re structure).The surrounding temple area or wada, tucked interior and away from the bustling street market exudes a calm, soothing atmosphere. Once abundant with Tulsi (Basil) plants in the gardens, it is now home to shops selling traditional items. Two smaller temples and a Nagarkhana (music store room) are part of the temple complex. Brass lamps, artefacts, antique door bells and knobs, traditional kitchen utensils and brass, iron woks and spoons as well as fancy toran or door decorations made of plastic flowers or wool fill every inch of the tiny shops around the temple complex.

Old meets new, nostalgia meets novelty, Art meets History!

Out through the low wooden darwaza, onto the buzzing streets outside one is greeted with congestion, traffic and chaos (especially during the festive days!) The delightful, historic place suddenly becomes a nightmare! Beware of pickpockets and curt behaviour of people!

Bajirao road street market caters to clothing – cheap woollen shawls and socks ( yes, Pune did get cold to 12- 15 degrees.), eco-friendly cloth bags or pishwi in different sizes, traditional parkar- polka or girl’s long skirt/blouse, dhoti, jhabba, topi or traditional men’s attire worn by local rural population from Satara, Sangli regions.

Many shops in adjoining streets cater to puja lamps, cotton wicks, decorated seating stools, wedding clothes, fancy gift bags or potli and festival jewellery.

Sankranti, is a harvest festival celebrated in January, heralding the Sun’s northern movement. Traditionally it is celebrated with exchange of til -gul   

and married women dress in quintessential black saree and young girls in black and gold parkar polka, adorning themselves with unique tilache dagine (sesame and sugar jewellery). Young girls and boys under 5 years of age are showered with til halwa and sugar beads. Making of this festive jewellery is a dying art ( tiny poppy or sesame seed is covered in white or green coloured sugar coating).

Tulsi Baug market is THE place for such traditional items.

In a quick turn around to the crossing I spotted the famous Chitale Bandhu store, famous for its Baaker Wadi, Pedha and Srikhand. For the Puneri non-resident Indians living in far away USA and Australia – THIS is the store! They must stop by for the delicacies or pack and carry home.

Long live Pune traditions and culture, the seat of Marathas and Peshwas is held up high with every new young generation that aims to hold on to its past, in this era of modernism.

Tulsi Baug holds a special place in the heart of every Puneri, and we hope the municipal corporation sets adequate funds for treasure and unique history.






Summer in Canada:Maple Syrup,Summer Fruit and Outdoor Kiosks


It’s summer time in the Northern hemisphere. On our recent visit to far away Canada we filled our stomach with lush summer fruit: golden peaches with hints of red blush, tangy sweet strawberries and juice dripping plums. Slurp! slurp. Snow covered streets was a thing of the past season.

London, Ontario

An easy walk down Talbot street, at corner of King street, London Ontario, was the iconic Covent market. Established in 1845,the brown stone building is a popular landmark. It’s large clock dial at the entrance, high ceiling and noveau glass panes make the architecture of this two storey building. The ground floor is home to local vendors, some who are here for more than 20 years, everyday! From gourmet cheese from south Ontario, fresh seasonal groceries, award-winning meat cuts to locally prepared breads and pastries, the market hall caters to all. Come summer, there’s even a special weekend outdoor market in addition to indoor stalls. ‘Want a special Maple syrup, Canadás very own?’ inquired a vendor, noticing my touristy attire and inquisitiveness. The early Aboriginal settlers taught the arriving Europeans (Canadians) to harvest maple sap from the trees, boil it in clay pots and use syrup to lace sweet treats.

‘Coffee and raisin bread?’ asked my friend. we quickly opted for the outdoor wooden benches at the street level, rather than the quietude of the first floor indoor coffee shop. ‘Just like other Canadians…soak up the sun, while it lasts, listen to the summer time live music bands playing in the background’ I chirped with a smile.

Courtesy: Coventmarket.com/outdoors

Montreal: Marche BonSecours

The old city cobbled walk was picturesque and informative, magnificent stone buildings dotting both sides of the street. On Rue St. Paul Est (yes, official language is French, in this Provence) the Marche BonSecours stood majestically. We stood in awe at this architectural grandeur!

The building almost occupied the entire street, perfectly symmetrical on each side of its imaginative central line.The six Roman columns make an imposing front central facade above which a triangular plaque bears the name of the market. We soon learned about the Palladian style architecture (perfect building symmetry, perspective in all round view and values) brought here by British architect William Footner. He copied from Roman and Greek styles so true to the time period. The central dome and rotunda was so high…almost touching the clear blue sky!

A very popular market in the 1800’s, it served local and regional population with produce coming from far away. After being shut down as a market in 1964, it served as Government office. In recent times, the large central hall and majestic first floor rooms and corridor are often rented out for community projects, marriage functions and exhibitions. It’s no longer functions as a produce market.

To cater to the summer tourists and locals (schools close for summer holidays) nearby streets stretched out with a variety of stalls. Souvenirs, exotic sugarcane juice, rows of Maple syrup, locally painted canvas Art, handcrafted jewellery, candy floss and ice cream treats, straw bags, handcrafted dolls…the street market was brimming had a very vibrant mood!


Very near the Parliament buildings and historical buildings in Ottawa is popular, bustling ByWard marketplace. With over 400 unique shops that fill this area, there is something for everyone! There is NEVER a dull moment here, come winter or summer. If not to shop, at least we can capture a memento photo at the iconic signpost, I thought.

The red stone buildings here have much history. In the yesteryear they were private residences of many officials and merchants. Today they have become business houses: shops, cafes, restaurants, bakeries and garden equipment markets. By the day the place attracts many a home maker, casual tourist, office goer looking for quick bite.

But as the sun sets …the sidewalk cafe, restaurants and beer shops attract another set of consumers! At times though…. sadly the street is strewn by glass bottles thrown by drunk people, it’s a place for small time robbery and fights too.


‘Don’t forget the maple syrup bottles,there is a special kiosk here’ called out a vendor. I noticed the ‘fleur’ blue and white flag, indicating the flag of the region.

My friend pointed out to some fresh strawberries and Rhubarb. Those reddish-purple stalks were unique, I thought. We picked up a bunch to make rhubarb compote. Then move on to sweet treat and cross cultural friendship hugs. The Óbama cookies reminded us of cross border friendship:) For the sugar treat  the big French Bakery was a perfect place.

It was time to head home, taking back memories and photographs of the city markets. It was time to ponder about  culture, food and seasons in lands far beyond. It was time to value what we have in hand and what we get…beyond.

Au revoir…till we meet again.

A Flower Colour Burst at Monda Market


”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.


                    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. 










Postcards from Nagpur: City Market and a Town Market


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.

Retracing the Nawabi steps at Muzzam Jahi Market, Hyderabad


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



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.


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.


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.


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