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Fresh market tales

Focus 12: What is the Clothing Style of Your Country?

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A country is often recognised by the clothing its people wear. Some countries have a traditional costume like the Scottish kilt, the Korean hanbok, the Punjabi shalwar or the rugged denim jeans worn by cowboys.

Clothing serves as a protective cover against weather whilst also giving the body necessary privacy. Clothes have adapted with time, weather conditions, lifestyle, type of work performed and fashion. Some countries lead the fashions, some strive to keep their traditional dress.

                    ‘Clothes maketh a man. ‘

                    Clothing speaketh about the country’

Different clothes tell us different stories. They are like pages of history and geography, communicating not only the weather conditions and historical influences, but speaking of finer elements like type of fabric, its colour, artistic weaves etc. For example the  varying Ikat designs of Indonesia, Orissa and Cambodia, the Scottish and Irish Tartan checks as compared to those of Chennai, India. Each design is unique to each country. Clothes also tell us about the wearer’s status and work performed. The labourer or street vendor will wear a casual attire , maybe or coarse and durable material as compared to an elite customer who may prefer to dress in more stylish and fancy clothing.

Let’s focus on clothing we see at our local markets. Do they tell us any information about that country?

  1. The Saree – from India

Who said the saree is a cumbersome, long and uncomfortable piece of clothing? Most women wear this 5 metre colourful cloth ‘the saree’ with ease and aplomb whilst doing a dozen different tasks – driving a scooter, carrying baskets on their head or sweeping the street. Just as the saree can dress up the Indian bride or business executive in expensive silk and chiffon, it is also used by the common woman on the street who would prefer an easy, washable and quick dry fabric.

Indian women wearing saree and carrying loads on their heads in market

Indian women wearing saree and carrying loads on their heads in market

 

Sari clad vendor in Rythu bazaar.

Sari clad vendor in Rythu bazaar.

2. The Kenyan Kanga and Djellaba

 Clothes must suit the temperature and weather. Loose flowing fabric is worn in most African and Middle Eastern countries. Some are multi-coloured to distract or highlight the wearer from the harsh sandy environment. Yet, at times soft pastel or earthy, sand colours are used for Kaftan’s in men’s clothing.

Courtesy: Internet A Kenyan women in bright coloured loose fabric

Courtesy: Internet A Kenyan women in bright coloured loose fabric

3. The Abeya or Burqha worn by Muslim women

The long, black, head to toe Abeya or Burqha is the traditional attire worn by most Muslim women, mostly in the Gulf countries, when they leave home to go outdoors. Men wear the Kandor. This outer garment shields the wearer from the harsh sun and desert sand. An Abeya can be as simple or as stylish!  Expensive embroidery, lace work and beads adorn ceremonial wear, and a simple one is worn casually.

Burqha and veil used in Gulf regions

Burqha and veil used in Gulf regions

4. Chinese Qipao and Cheogsam

The qipao, cheogsam, Mao suit are Chinese clothing styles. A cross collar, the right lapel over the left and a sash around the waist are highlights of this traditional and periodic costume. However, in recent times locals wear them only during festivals, preferring rather to don the shirt/pant/jeans for ease while doing daily tasks.

Chinese Qipao dress

Chinese Qipao dress

5. Folk or country costumes

Rural or countryside costumes are rustic in style made from extra durable cotton or denim fabric, especially in colder countries. In Europe women wear long skirt, tight at waist and a loose covering blouse. Different region boast their particular style. Head gear like scarves, caps, hats worn keep out the wind and cold.

Italian traditional rural costume

Italian traditional rural costume

6. Headgear from Different Countries. 

The Kasbati, the ceki, the fez and finally the soft mulmul white scarf  are all typical Turkish headgear, varying through the different historical times. Today, most Turkish women cover their heads with the white scarf ties tight around the head and neck, at times adorned with fancy pins or brooches.

Turkish women making fresh food at marketplace

Turkish women making fresh food at marketplace

7. The Yemeni and African ‘Kheffiyah’ 

Men cover their head, tying the chequered cloth in a triangular way. Colours preffered are mostly brown, black, red or cream. One end of the Keffiyah hangs loose over the back. During a sandstorm or intense summer heat, the scarf is used to loosely shield nose and mouth

Traditional headscarf worn in the Middle East Countries

‘Keffiyeh’ – Traditional headscarf worn in the Middle East Countries

7. Clothing in Kazhakstan and Countries with Cold Climate

Brrr….rr the cold wind blows in the Northern regions. Keeping warm is necessary as you work indoor or outdoor. Women are covered in head scarf and winter woollens as they sit on the side street in Kazakstan selling bottles of milk.

Milk vendors - Kazhakstan

Milk vendors – Kazhakstan

Winter baazar and street stalls and pushcarts selling winter wear are commonplace in most markets of Europe, New Zealand, China, Nepal and many other countries with cold weather. People working outdoor wear appropriate winter clothing.

Stall selling winter woollies

Stall selling winter woollens

……And so the clothing stories go on from one country to another. Designs, fabric pattern, wearing styles. Styles to suit the weather, work and wearer.

What is the particular clothing of your country?

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

 

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Guest Post: Extensive Kutchhi Embroidery in Ahmedabad’s Market

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My young niece recently visited Ahmedabad’s famous shopping street, the Law Gardens. Revati is a budding architect, prolific reader and a writer for the magazine Urban Vaastu. Not the archetype shopper and bargainer, she still brought back bags full of colourful Kutchhi embroidered clothes as well as stories.  Thanks Revati, for sharing your experience at the street market.

Street shopping in Ahmedabad. Courtesy : Internet

Street shopping in Ahmedabad. Courtesy : Internet

 

‘If you think money cannot buy happiness then you do not know where to shop!’ This is a patent phrase every shopaholic is well versed with and more so, believes whole heartedly in it. This happiness intensifies manifold when one buys a particular item at half the quoted price. Welcome to the art of street shopping where the primary requisite is a combination of the sheer skill of bargaining and mammoth patience.

The Law Garden area in the city of Ahmedabad, western India, is a street side shopping haven and a ‘must visit’ for enthusiastic tourists and locals alike. It is an evening market where the shop owners can be seen unpacking and arranging their clothes for display after the sun begins its sluggish journey towards the west. The melancholic sun forms an ideal backdrop for their long grueling evening ahead.

‘Low Garden’ as the area is famously known in the native Gujarathi language offers a variety of Kachchhi embroidery work. This traditional threadwork on fabric is done by the artisans of Kutch, a region in the state of Gujarat and is thus called Kachchhi work. Kutch, lies around 400 km away from the city of Ahmedabad. This beautiful work can be seen on a range of fabrics and an assortment of clothes like ghagras, jackets, blouses and accessories like clutches, slings and slippers to name a few. It also displays stunning ensembles of the popular ghagra choli or chaniya choli, which is a traditional flowing skirt and short blouse, very popularly worn, especially  during the Navratri season while playing garba. Garba is the traditional Gujarati dance.

Embroidered dress materials with mirror work. Courtesy: Internet

Embroidered dress materials with mirror work. Courtesy: Internet

Kutchhi work is usually done on cotton or silk fabric. The embroidery involves the use of silk or woollen thread in fine stitches to create elaborate patterns, and draws its inspiration from romantic, architectural and human motifs, as well as Persian and Mughal arts. The colors used are mainly green, indigo, deep red, black, yellow and ivory. The embroidery is also distinctive in its use of mirrors and beads, placed strategically in between patterns.

Kutchhi embroidery on bedspreads. Courtesy: Internet

Kutchhi embroidery on bedspreads

History traces the origin of this Kutch embroidery work to mochis, shoemakers who used to work on royal textiles and decorative objects. Over the years it has grown to become an artwork of international repute. Kutchhi embroidery has never lost its sheen and in fact the colorful craft has considerably gained popularity over the years. It has survived owing to the constant influx of new designs and innovations along with new merchandise such as waistcoats, purses, bags, sandals, skirts, scarves and belts. Home furnishings and fashionable attire to suit modern wear also incorporates this embroidery.

Let’s take a look at the street market scenario:

This rich artwork is displayed within tiny (mostly shabby) 8′ by 6′ shops in the Law Garden area. The owner sits on a raised platform which exhibits the entire spectrum of his products. The tarpaulin sheets act as dividers between the shops but one can seldom notice them peeping under the riot of coloured cloth pieces on display. Bewildered? The designs, patterns and colours are so varied and intricate! It becomes difficult to vividly remember the patterns you have purchased or viewed. The floral motifs combine beautifully with lines and geometric and nature inspired forms to create a design with bright hues. An important fact to be borne in mind is that these products at Law Garden are open to bargaining since it is machine work designs and not hand work. The traditional hand worked cloth is understandably expensive and demands a more respectable selling place than a roadside shop. Nonetheless, the machine work products are gorgeous for a person who craves for a piece of  Kutchhi ethnicity albeit, on a shoestring budget, in their wardrobe. That is me!

As I began my shopping escapades, I was awestruck with the beauty that man could create on a mere fabric. Each region has its own specialty and it is always undoubtedly worth possessing. I must have appeared an obvious novice to this region, armed with a cap and a water bottle to beat the heat. Finally, after a bit of window shopping, I mustered the courage to actually ask the shopkeeper to show me various clothes and quote the price.

This is where the most entertaining part of the evening began. He quoted a price almost 4 times the reasonable rate and since my face must have registered the shock he quickly added, ” You choose first. Then we will decide the price.” Bemused at his calm authoritative manner I was determined to beat him at his own game. After selecting a certain product we began haggling over the rate. I offered something way below his quoted price and pat came the reply, “Tell a price that even we can afford. This is not possible. Tell me your last price.” This went on for a few minutes after which I gave in and said I was willing to stretch by a hundred rupees. He began packing the dress and I heaved a sigh of relief. Alas, I had emerged victorious against a skilled player who never misses a day of practice. He handed it over and said, “Let’s agree at a price between mine and yours. Give me 400 rupees.” The smug triumphant look disappeared from my face and I succumbed to the fact that I had lost the battle.

However, I repeated the same procedure in all the shops and passed with flying colours a few times. The pleasure one gets after bargaining and finally purchasing a product at a pre-conceived price can seldom be understood by the brand conscious people. The time when you pretend to leave and the owner calls you back to re-negotiate the cost is one of the trickiest part of this charade. If you are not effective in acting your part you will not be called back and that dress or bag which you had set your heart upon cannot be yours! Or else you will have to swallow your pride and walk back to the place and buy it at whatever rate he asks for. However, in any case, this is an experience of its kind and rather entertaining. I must confess that I have never been a shopaholic in my life and detest bargaining and street shopping in the heat.

However, the market at Law Garden seemed to exude a charm that even a person like me could not resist. Thus, I can happily state that after a couple of hours, I had two bags full of clothes and accessories and a third full of MEMORIES.

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

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

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Farmer’s markets, supermarkets and street markets often say the seasons. Come summer, colourful fruit and flowers deck up stalls. Come winter, crunchy nuts, root vegetables and preserved food find their space. There is always an air of excitement and curiosity that beckons one to buy that ‘first’ stock of season’s produce.

Season’s show Nature’s mood. They add colour and variety to our life. Our food habits, cuisines and traditions often evolve around the season.

“A thriving household depends on the use of seasonal produce and the application of common sense.”
                                           Olivier de Serres (1539-1619)

Europe’s spring and summer markets, set up on sun filled streets are particularly popular. Colours that warm you up -Punnets of red strawberries, golden melons, green guava, leafy vegetables, yellow lemon. Bunches of freesia, lilies, geranium, marigold add that extra hint whether at table décor or strokes of an artist’s brushes.

In India and south-east Asia, mounds of tangy brown tamarind pods, green yellow lemons, sour amla (gooseberries) fill the markets. It’s the season to make pickles and chutneys.

Tamarind Pod. Courtesy: Internet

Tamarind Pod. Courtesy: Internet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mango mania becomes the talk of town during tropical summers. Markets stock up crates, cardboard boxes, pushcarts, door to door sellers with this ‘king of fruit.’

Seasonal Banganpalli mangoes sold on a pushcart

Seasonal Banganpalli mangoes sold on a pushcart

From the orchard to the market. Every seasonal fruit and vegetable makes its way into regional cuisine. Jam, tomato puree, dried fruit compote, fruit tarts, jackfruit wafers, juices and summer drinks – the kitchen knows best what’s in season.

Did you ever stop to taste a carrot?  Not just eat it, but taste it?  You can’t taste the beauty and energy of the earth in a Twinkie.

Astrid Alauda.

Markets aren’t just about food. They are a wonderful showcase of seasonal culture and clothing too like the Christmas markets. Colourful winter woollens, handmade crochet shawls and quilts, balls of lambs wool, acrylic wool and yarn all find their spot in winter stalls, roadside markets from Tibet to Mexico!

Stall selling winter woollies

Stall selling winter woollens

 

Stall selling wool items

Stall selling wool items

Christmas markets are very popular. Whether its ginger ale, apple cider, crunchy roasted hazel nuts or hand-made products like soap, wax candles, delicate lace and quilted dolls ….the market show must go on!

At spring time, what do you buy at the market? 

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

 


 

 

Guest Post: Wandering Around in Ho Chi Minh City and Market

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As a guest post, here is a delightful fruit tasting experience narrated by  my warm and vivacious friend, Kiran Shah. Kiran recently returned from a story telling conference in Vietnam and agreed to write-up a guest post for me. Thanks Kiran.

Our friendship blossomed in Singapore, she a story-teller, me a teacher.  Kiran has conducted story telling workshops in Singapore, Malaysia, India, Vietnam and in Australia, her new home. Contact her at kiranstoryteller@gmail.com.

  Wandering around in Ho Chi Minh City, February 2016

The Vietnamese work day starts early at 7.30am. I was staying at a guest house opposite a university, tucked away from the tourist belt. At 7am, I walked around in search of breakfast and to explore the area. The traffic was heavy, with scooters and motorbikes leading the way. Other vehicles trailed behind, all moving perilously though somewhat harmoniously. I was impressed by the 2 sets of traffic lights to suit both road users.

Speed on scooter while going to work

Speeding on scooter while going to work

 People were dashing as I strolled leisurely along the main road at first. They were much too busy to smile, except for the delightful bicycle repairer who was happy to pose for me. Look at his travelling box trolley.

Vietnam bicycle repairer

Vietnam bicycle repairer

Food was everywhere- in the market and the street. Whether it was fish openly cooking in pots in some rich curry, or baguettes (a legacy from the French), or soupy noodles with fresh herbs and meat. As people pulled over to frequent the carts or other eateries dotting the pavement for a quick bite or a takeaway, I ventured into a little lane as the vegetable and fruit sellers beckoned. Never have I seen such tiny garlic nor so many varieties of fresh fish.

Fresh seafood on sale in Vietnam market

Fresh seafood on sale in Vietnam market

 

But what attracted me was a fruit I had never seen before! Of course I had to buy one with the help of a customer who spoke English! She called it Vu Sua (meaning milky breast), botanical name Chrysophyllum Cainito and also called milk fruit or star apple.

An apple with a reddish tinge? Or was it a soursop? This star apple or Vu Sua was juicier and sweeter!

Guava and star apple fruit

Guava and star apple fruit

All I can say was I wished I’d bought more. Absolutely divine!

Cut star apple ( Vu Sa)

Cut star apple ( Vu Sua)

Watch this video to find out how it looks like:

Hope this inspires my readers to sample exotic fruit and share some interesting anecdotes. Till then, relax.

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

 

 

Street food, Hyderabad

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Street food is popular all over the world. Have you wondered why? It’s convenient, fresh, caters to local authentic taste, competitively priced, at times nostalgic, and makes for an affordable social place.

In Hyderabad, street food is pedaled on bicycles, push-carts and at kiosks. It is no longer limited to the bustling ‘old city’ lanes. (For Bangle bazaar, Charminar, see here). Find your nearest street corner, watch the locals eat roadside meals.

Floor design: Kolam,

Floor design: Kolam,

Two common sights greet the passer by each morning in Hyderabad (and most of South India). First is the artistic, rice powder kolam drawings on the floor of house entrances. The other is the breakfast vendor.  Hot idli, dosa and chutney served at almost every street corner!

At one street in Begumpet area, this vendor parks his bicycle, as early as 5:30 am. Steel buckets filled with sambar (curry) hang from the handle bar. On either side of the cycle, two other containers with chutney and idli (soft rice flour mounds) make the balance. For recipe of Palli (peanut chutney) see here. With a beaming smile, he serves his first customer with soft, white idlis on disposable paper plates. Tangy, spicy sambar is ladled on top. Having sold all the food by 10:00 am he packs up.

Street vendor selling breakfast items

Street vendor selling breakfast items

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bucket filled with Sambar / curry

Bucket filled with Sambar / curry

Nagamma has been serving breakfast on her pushcart for 8 years. She wakes up at 3:00 am preparing the batter and chutneys. The couple drive their van and by 6:00 am, she lights up the makeshift gas burner on her bandi or pushcart. Oodles of batter are dropped into the hot oil, the aroma of sada vada and medu vada (little balls of rice and lentil batter) fills the cool morning air. Her regular customers are street workers, hostel students and nearby office staff.

Thanks Nagamma! Hesitatingly, I tasted freshly made crisp, flat dosa  some vada served with coconut chutney. Yumm…

Street vendor making crisp dosa

Street vendor making crisp dosa

Bonda and Vada

Bonda and Vada

From 5 pm onwards its snack time in India. Freshly made, spicy fried Mirpakaya bhajji or stuffed chilli pakora are a Hyderabadi special. Be brave and tingle your taste buds!

Street food: Masala bonda and bhajji

Street food: Masala bonda and bhajji

Street food is known to travel far and beyond its regional and cultural borders. The Bombay style pani puri and chaat items, are gaining popularity with a younger crowd. Mostly hostel students, professionals in the bustling IT sector find these kiosks a affordable and relaxing place. You need a strong stomach to digest those spices and water, though.

Street food :Pani puri stall

Street food :Pani puri stall

Summer can be very hot and dry in Hyderabad. Vendors brave the heat and pollution on the roads. They push their carts from main road to side streets or stand nearby a tree. Popular drinks include lemon drinks, water served in earthen pots or matka, tender coconuts or freshly squeezed mosambi, sweet lime juice.

Have you eaten street food in Hyderabad?

What is the street food in your country? What cuisine does it say? Do share your comments.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year End and Festive Christmas Markets

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Christmas tree decoration

As another year closes upon us soon, its time, once again, to thank my readers for taking interest in my blog. It makes my time and energy worthwhile.

       

 

                      

 

Wishing you all a very  Healthy  and Joyful New Year 2016.

As the festivities add a cheerful and colourful end to the year, it reminds me of Christmas markets, especially traditional ones in Europe. Relaxing at home I’ve read up travel write ups, food and traditions around these markets. It all seems magical! Never been to one.

Early years the local community markets doubled up their stalls and products to meet the seasonal Christmas demand. Besides farm eggs, meat and fruits, wooden makeshift stalls sold craft items like wooden puppets, dolls and patchwork blankets. Markets were always a great meeting place, trading place.

Compare that to the modern markets set up in shopping malls all over the world. Tourists outnumber locals, unknown to each other, never a greeting. Plastic and animated toys, factory produced candies and breads, glitzy balloons, cheap confetti and baubles overflow on the shelves. All mundane, produced en masse. No personal touch.

Going back to the town markets all over Europe, imagine winter evenings made magical with tinkling lights, real  Christmas trees with pine cones, even fresh snow upon the sidewalks. And carol singers winding their way through cobbled streets entering the Piazza or market square. Stop there, halt the time!

German and Austrian markets maybe the earliest, sponsored by the rulers and rich nobles in 1800’s.  Demand for variety of handcrafted dolls with lace frocks, wooden trains and puppets, embroidered linen, crochet gifts, wooden cuckoo chime clocks, fragrant candles and soaps with earthy scents were popular. Winter was synonymous of pine cones dusted with gold or silver sparkle, Christmas wreaths made with pruned rosebuds, ivy twines, dry fig leaves. A way of recycling garden materials?

Cold weather and availability of ingredients summed up traditions around food. Chocolate, sugar, chestnuts and plentiful fruit after harvest. German beer, hot cider, apfelwein and malt drinks were popular. German sauerkraut/sausages, gingerbread treats, Santa theme chocolates and roasted almonds kept hunger and winter at bay.

Mesmerizing, a journey back into time?  Well, no wonder more than 3 million tourists and locals visit these ‘once in a year’ markets in Europe.

 Sit back and browse like me:

http://eatlikeagirl.com/2015/12/10/7-gorgeous-christmas-markets-in-north-west-germany/

http://www.europeanbestdestinations.com/christmas-markets/http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/12/take-five-chhttp://www.bbc.com/travel/story/2012

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20121210-four-great-christmas-markets-outside-Germany

http://www.timeout.com/london/shopping/christmas-markets-and-fairs-in-London

http://www.christkindlmarkt.at/History.18.0.html?&L=1

Or share your own Christmas market experiences, and thrill us.

                     Season’s Greetings 

                                   and

                        Happy New Year  

  

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

 

                       

 

 

Cloth Market, Jalgaon

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Jalgaon – Banana City, Cloth City or Gold City? Believe it or not. There is a big market for each of these, in this quaintly rural western district of Maharashtra.

Navigating our way through the busy main street junction at Mahatma Gandhi road in Jalgaon, my sister and myself, finally stood opposite the  crowded gate of the district’s famous cloth market. The Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Cloth Market, steeped in history, but lacking lustre.

Jalgaon cloth market entrance

Jalgaon cloth market entrance

Hanging electric cables overhead, run down paint peeling off the entrance wall, haphazard parked auto rickshaws and cart peddlers created a jigsaw blocked entry. Garbage and plastic bottles near the main entrance were a definite eye sore. In contrast, green, yellow, red bright lights that lit adjacent cloth stores enriched the drab ambience and lifted our curiosity. ‘It cant be THAT bad…let’s have a peek ‘ we muttered as we jostled the crowds that evening.

A crowded narrow entrance, Phule market, Jalgaon

A crowded narrow entrance, Phule market, Jalgaon

Jalgaon district in north-west Maharashtra, India,  is more popularly known for its banana (Kela)crop. It is the largest producer and exporter in India. Banana plantations are grown in abundance with help of drip irrigation and tissue culture. THIS market does not sell bananas, but one can find carts and squatting vendors selling this ‘king’ fruit on every street, all through the year!

Banana fruit and seller

Banana fruit and seller

Jalgaon is also a leading cotton-producing district.The volcanic soil, dry weather and mild winters are perfect for this crop. Cotton bales are then sent off all around the country, especially to Surat and Ahmedabad for the garment making industry. Some shops stocked a good variety of  fluffy cotton, stacked up in jute and cloth sacks. Mattress and pillow making are big business right here in the market, shops selling the loose cotton fluffs no less than 10 kilo.

Turning our heads left and right, keenly looking at the variety of embroidered dresses, kurti and lehnga sets, mannequins posing in regal attire were cramming for space as we made our way into the narrow streets leading inwards. Bright bulbs hanging loosely above on long electric cables lighting up makeshift stalls stood like beacons in darkness. Other regular shops were bursting with a variety of clothing and accessories. The market is open all 7 days of the week. Festivals and public holidays are the most busy time. Not an inch to walk as mostly women and children come here to do fancy festive or bridal shopping. they even come from neighbouring states or cities like Indore, Bhopal, Nasik, Nanded, Bhusawal, Surat and even Mumbai.

This cloth market is famous and has competitive prices.

Next we saw rows of colourful shawls, stoles, caps and socks, reminding us of the mild winter weather that had just begun.

Fancy bags, faux leather belts and handbags, beaded slippers, shops catering to needle craft lace, saree borders, beads, needles, buttons, knitting yarn, ribbons and headbands, school uniforms – all under one roof here. Women…, women shoppers everywhere!

Mannequins dressed in Indian dress

Mannequins dressed in Indian dress

Do we need to really buy something ? Just a souvenir dress material at the least? Well why not..as we women will say. Boldly, we emptied our pockets and bought few garments and dress materials, acknowledging the competitive pricing that made us feel satisfied.

It was time to head out of the surging crowds that seemed to increase as the night grew. Sighting a street cart selling the famous ‘banana crisps’ it was time to nibble and pacify the hungry stomach too.

Crisp, crunch, munch. Salty banana chips. A perfect end to the colourful  sights and sounds of a busy market.

Jalgaon – banana city and cotton city, yes we had a good insight of life here.

Banana crisps sold on street cart

Banana crisps sold on street cart

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

 

 

 

Aside

Dear readers,

‘Every writer needs an audience.’ It is YOU  that have made my blog journey a success.

A very Big Thank you to each one of you – family, friends, fellow bloggers and readers. Some of you are silent readers, some actively leave your valuable comments, yet some others motivate me in person.

Thank You dear readers

Thank You dear readers

Today’s statistics:  10,000 views

Total blog posts: 82 

Viewers: From over 50 countries       

Thank you Word Press team for all the backstage support !                     

 

Courtesy: Internet

Courtesy: Internet

   The top 5 most popular blogs have been: 

Top Number 1 : If you love flower markets, head to Delhi. Read more here: https://walktomarket.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/ghazipur-phool-mandi-delhi/

Rose bundles for sale

Rose bundles for sale

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Number 2:  For a little French town experience of  cobbled lanes, bicycles and baskets to stuff assorted  French bread, see here: https://walktomarket.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/a-french-affair-baskets-bread-and-cheese/

French lady arranging bread for display

French lady arranging bread for display

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Number 3:  In the midst of sandy deserts, how does man survive using the fruit of the hardy Date palm? How many Date varieties do you know?  See here:

https://walktomarket.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/dates-the-holy-fruit-of-middle-east/

The Date Palm Oasis

The Date Palm Oasis

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Number 4:  Many a travel article has been written about the most popular bazaar in history, the Grand baazar of Turkey. But behind the Blue mosque exists  an equally colourful historic bazaar? ( This article was published in Woman’s Era magazine, October issue) See here:

https://walktomarket.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/istanbul-cultural-musings-from-a-bazaar/

Stone arched entrance to market for ceramics, shawls

Stone arched entrance to market for ceramics, shawls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Number 5:  Ever wondered how the immigrants change the cultural landscape of a country? What hardships do they face? See here:  https://walktomarket.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/immigrant-jigsaw-puzzle-Sydney/

Haymarket Building, Sydney

Haymarket Building, Sydney

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now here is my personal choice:

Number 1: Mumbai market

As a girl I often accompanied my mother to the market to buy fruit for pickles. Crowded streets, variety of vegetable and fruit produce, seasonal rains, trucks and carts offloading vegetables…and  what if I get lost in the crowd? Or lose my money bag?  Read more here:

https://walktomarket.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/mumbai-the-city-with-a-heart/

 

Number 2:

Migratory tales ring a special note in my heart. While buying vegetables,  engaging in personal conversation with the vendors to seek out their stories, one needs tact..and empathy.

https://walktomarket.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/a-photo-essay-al-mina-market-abu-dhabi/

Pakistani vendor selling spring onions

Pakistani vendor selling spring onions

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

               Thank you, once again for visiting my blog.

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A Big Thank You! Five Most Popular Posts

Dazzling Bangles of Lad Baazar, Hyderabad

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Dazzling Bangles of Lad Baazar, Hyderabad

The tradition of wearing bangles or churi or bangri in India is an ancient custom, with deep significant meanings. Its humble evolvement from terracotta, stone, shell to ivory, lac, glass, metal and to modern-day plastic shows its cultural importance. Bangles are primarily worn to adorn the woman’s delicate wrists, but the deeper significance to protect her from evil eye, to ignite the Shakti and the gunas within hold equal improtance. Bangles are traditionally part of the solah shringar for the bride. How else can she call her beloved demurely other than with the soft tinkling ‘chan chan’ ?

Metal and studded stone bangle sets

Metal and studded stone bangle sets

My visit to Hyderabad’s popular Lad Bazaar or bangles bazaar set next to the magnificent Charminar was the place for study. Behind the modern-day cacophony, the old world charm and nostalgia of the Begums and bangle shops is one to be feasted upon visually!

Street shops near Charminar

Street shops near Charminar

Established during the Qutb Shahi rule in 1500’s the bazaar became famous for its glittering bangles, especially made by Kasars from glass or lac.  Hyderabad was first ruled by Kakatiya kings and later the Qutb Shahi rulers who were great patrons of Persian and Indo -Islamic cultures and languages making the city an epitome of Hindu -Muslim architecture and grace. architectural. It became famous for its diamonds, pearls and rubies too. The Nawabi era saw sprawling palaces, rich cuisine, bazaars and parks and lakes. The locals were Deccani Hindus – creating a harmonious society borrowing from each others cultures and traditions.

Indian traditions around the significance of bangles ceremonies abound with celebration of festivals, seasons and events in woman’s life. At  wedding, birth ceremony, nuptial, Teej season and prayer times  women would head to Lad bazaar: henna for the hands, bangles for wrists, bindis and jhoomar for face uplifts, gotta patti or shimmering gold borders for dresses and dainty anklets for the feet.

A young bride with henna colouration

A young bride with henna colouration

Women apply Henna during Ramzan festival

Women apply Henna during Ramzan festival

 

Faux zari borders, lace and gotta patti

Faux zari borders, lace and gotta patti

The market is a scene of cultural blend. Muslim women in black Abeyyas covered from head to toe contrasted with Hindu women in sarees. Men in ethnic tunics, Lungis or casual trousers walked by. Tourists of all ages, focussed their cameras on the Charminar, unperturbed by the bangles dazzling in the sunlight and shop lights.

Women in burqha looking at bangles

Women in burqha looking at bangles

 

Woman in burqha admiring lace and trinkets in street bazaar

Woman in burqha admiring lace and trinkets in street bazaar

Street vendors with carts stuffed with beaded slippers, fake watches, cheap bangles and hair clips jostled for space. Speaking in Hindi, Urdu or local Telugu they knew the character of the place. Errand boys with shoulder baskets zig zagged through the crowds selling souvenirs.

Street cart selling plastic bangles

Street cart selling plastic bangles

Laughter, whispers, excited children, screaming vendors shouting ‘Chudi le lo…, Bindi le lo…’ lent an air of drama and vibrancy to this bustling market.

Built in 1591, rectangular Charminar, the edifice with four minarets is the focal point of the market area. Its pale yellow walls show chipped construction and a veil of neglect. Its towering minarets rise twenty metres from the roof. There is a mosque and impressive prayer hall on the upper floors. On the outer perimeter of the central chowk, are the four arches or Char Kamans in four directions namely: Machli Kaman, Kali Kaman, Kaman Sher-e-Batil and Mewawala Kaman. Names of the arches show many an interesting story of bravery, traditional beliefs and fortunes.

Magnificient Charminar with symmetrical arches

Magnificient Charminar with symmetrical arches

 

Charminar terrace, arches and clock

Charminar terrace, arches and clock

 The street leading west from Charminar, from under the Kaman Sher-e –Batil leads to the Lad bazaar. At once, you are greeted with endless row of shops, competing with their colourful display. Colour coded bangles wrapped around circular moulds stand tall behind glass panes in tight cupboards.

Rows of bangles on display

Rows of bangles on display

One needs time, patience and colour sense to choose from the myriad options of bangles: family set, wedding set, single kangan, glass bangle, lac bangle, pearl bangles, stone studded, plastic bangles and many more…

Vendor packaging bangles in plastic wraps

Vendor packaging bangles in plastic wraps

Here is the significance of colour:

  • Red and gold are prefered bridal colours.
  • Green is for fertility or peace
  • Yellow and orange auspicious.
  • Black, dark green is prefered at henna parties or to match the seasonal monsoon clouds.
  • Gold is reserved for weddings, prayer ceremonies and royal fanfare. They are always coupled with other multi colours.
  • Violet and blue were the fashion statements of the day
  • In Bengal, married women wear ivory and red coral bangle
  • In Karnataka and Maharashtra the bride wears green glass bangles
  • The Punjabi shaadi choora is an elaborate set of red, white and design

Have you ever seen the churiwala or bangle man at an Indian wedding, especially at the bride’s house? Amidst the laughter, music, garlands of flower and henna, the churiwala is man is important. Sitting traditionally on a soft, floor mattress, surrounded by the household women and bride’s friends, he proves his skill, patience and ability to choose bangles colours and delicately push them on the wrists. Aha!

Multi coloured fancy bangles

Multi coloured fancy bangles

Bollywood cinema, western fashion, modern office etiquette, lack of time and disinterest in olden traditions has its impact on the wear of bangles and its business.

Faux pearl bangle set

Faux pearl bangle set

A visit to Hyderabad is regarded incomplete without buying the pearl bangles.

The Lad bazaar holds a special place in the heart of every woman, especially in Hyderabad. Here history merges with grace and beauty, the bangles continue to dazzle one and all.

Do you wear bangles as jewellery? Why?

I really hope my Indian readers will share some stories and significance about bangles. I’ve spent much time and patience here. Readers interactions only give more positivity and pleasure.

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

 

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

Daily Post Challenge: Not Here, not There. On The Way

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Here is my entry for this week’s Daily Photo Challenge: On The Way.

fhttps://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/on-the-way/

The photo, one from my archives, brings back memories of our drive from Livigno, in Italy to St. Moritz,(Davos) Switzerland, a stunning road trip through the scenic Alps. A day to remember, crossing the borders of countries, was so easy.

Iconic Train arriving at station, St. Moritz

Historic Glacier Express on the way to St. Moritz station.

As the little Red train came into sight, we stopped turned into the parking lot and stopped to catch a glimpse of this iconic, historic train. Once a steam-powered locomotive, with engineering feats to tackle severe winter and steep terrain, the Glacier Express is now a modern-day luxury….literally! The train passes through dozens of small villages and resorts and scenic landscapes.

But between stations…its’ neither here (Zermatt) nor there ( St. Moritz)! It’s on the way..

On a deeper note:

A train journey is often used as a metaphor for our life journey. We are all ‘On the Way’ from one station(birthplace) to another station(End). And, on the way, just like the train, we too pass through pleasant, memorable stations as well as chug through the steep and difficult ones. It is ‘what’ and ‘how’ you do on the way…that will ultimately determine your End station. So, don’t lose control of your life train, be in charge!

 

Palampur Tea Gardens: Journal Notes

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Palampur Tea Gardens: Journal Notes

Quick Facts:

Where: Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, India

Elevation: 4,829 ft.

Visited: November 2014

How to reach : Nearest railway station is Pathankot (Punjab border). Nearest airport is Ghaggal, Himachal Pradesh. A number of private and HRTC buses have a good road network.

Best time of the year: March to June as a summer retreat. November to February as winter resort and activities.

Accomodation: Number of home stays, Government Tourism guest houses, Tea Bud, Bundla Estate stay, budget hotels and for a classic residence – Norwood Green.

Things to see /do: Visit tea gardens of HP Tourism and Bundla Estate, scenic Botanic garden, temples of Chamunda Devi and Baijnath, Andretta town, Rhododendron flower forests on nearby routes. Check out winter sport activities in nearby areas.

If you wish to escape into the lap of Mother Nature, stroll through tea gardens, view the Dhauladhar snow capped peaks and savour Kangra cuisine: Palampur beckons you.’

Prompted by this advertisment, we enjoyed a relaxed holiday here. As usual, visited the markets. Sharing my journal notes with you.

Show stoppers:

1. Bundla Tea Estate / Himachal Tourism Board Tea Estates

Palampur is known as the ‘Tea capital of North India’.

Misty mornings, dew drops hanging on fresh green leaves, undergrowth of thick woody stems and a canopy of lush green tea bushes. Mesmerizing, relaxing, surreal. No wonder Palampur is known as ‘Tea capital of North India’. A quiet getaway from the city noises and pollution.

The Bundla tea estate is managed by three generations of the Butail family. They own vast plantations. Living on their estate in a beautiful English built villa, the family owns extensive tea gardens. However, their humble and and friendly nature is widely known in Palampur. Check out their home stay at Bundla estate.

Nearby are the HP Tourism Board tea gardens – equally sprawling, picturesque and perfect for a refreshing morning walk. Feel the cold mountain air touching your face in winter, or during April and May stop by to capture photos of plantation workers with traditional baskets on their back, busy plucking fresh leaves.

Gifted with clear fresh water streams crisscrossing everywhere and a high altitude, the British found a perfect spot to grow tea bushes and enjoy the hill station atmosphere. Planted here by Dr. Jameson, a botanist in the region, this Orthodox Chinese variety of tea makes a unique gold brew. And so it gets its name: Kangra Gold Tea ( from Kangra valley). This is a green tea and is noted for its bountiful health benefits.

For more information check this :

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kangra-Valley/750848354951970

2. Tea Co-operative Society

Visitors are welcome for a viewing at the  co-operative society, on the outskirts of the town. Architecturally, the building stand out. A brick and stone building in buff colour and red border, a slanting roof to withstand winter snowfall, it is a good place to begin understanding all about Tea.

Inside there are large and small rooms for sorting, drying and withering of fresh tea leaves. Wooden crates and gunny sacks can be seen around, used for packing. Machinery is relatively new. Tea owners bring their crop here for sale.The process of collection, sorting, withering, grading and packaging of the tea leaves takes place after June. Finally, tea is ready sent to and auctioned in Calcutta – the largest auction site!

Palampur Tea Co-operative Society

Palampur Tea Co-operative Society

3. Buttico Emporium and Kullu shawls

If you have forgotten to bring your winter wear ( like I did, on purpose) snuggle up in the traditional Kullu shawls. These are hand-woven. Typical Kullu shawls have geometric patterns on both ends of the shawl, using bright colours like red, yellow, majenta, green and orange. These are made by dyeing the yarn. Himachali men have their own fashion statement – the Kullu Topi or cap. It is round on the sides and flat on the top. Designs with bright colours adorn the cap border.

Kulu caps and shawls

Kulu caps and shawls

Made of Angora, Pashmina or light wool Kullu shawls are world reputed and much desired. Stop and shop!

4. Farm stay, farming and vegetable markets

Most of the rural locals own small land and live in mud /cement houses. Life is simple – fresh air, water and home-grown vegetables. Education is considered top priority. Exercise is cleaning home, tilling the land or walking to the nearest town or community centres for markets and events.

On one such bus journey, we alighted at a town to interact with the women folk tending their home gardens. Stories of tilling soil, a failed harvest, taking loans to buy new seeds, winter weather woes and so on….But, finally, with experience and little community help they won the battle.

Tilling the land in rural Palampur

Tilling the land in rural Palampur

A lesson learned – experimenting and patience gives a good harvest.

Harvesting potatoes

Harvesting potatoes

5. Andretta town: Pottery Magic

Searching for glazed pottery? Unique shapes? Blissful, remote holiday? Head outwards to Andretta town. See the famous Pottery and craft centre.

Norah Richards, a British lady first lived here with her husband and built an English style cottage. Later painter /sculptor Shobah Singh moved here from Lahore. His family, till date, continue to make variety of pottery ( sold at retail outlets and Fab India stores) and teach and manage the centre, thus providing employment to the region and promoting the artistic talents.

Why not sign up for a 3 month intensive pottery workshop?

Glazed Pottery -Andretta, Palampur

Glazed Pottery -Andretta, Palampur Courtesy: Internet Photo

But there’s more than just the market for Tea, shawls and pottery.

Head to the main bus stand. Buy your souvenir Kangra Gold Tea packs from the corner shops. Visit the adjacent crowded street market. From a sewing needle to bundles of colourful wool, winter clothes, kitchen utensils and ladies fashion garment, plus tucked into their midst are Punjabi style Dhabbas ( street food places). Sit on wooden stools or plastic chairs, feel the aromas of fresh cooked food and see the over sized aluminium vessels filled with potato curry or mixed vegetable curry. Enjoy stove hot ghee dripping cauliflower parathas or  Kangra Kadhi -Chawal . Or drink tea like the locals do.

Local brew tea

Local brew tea

Palampur has it all – picturesque scenery, quiet pace of life, fresh food and water (and Tea packets!), art and craft and friendly locals.

Aren’t you ready to book your train journey? Don’t forget to bring back a packet of Kangra Gold Tea and plenty of stories to share. 

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