Sunday, February 25, 2007

the Spice vendors & their displays

In the old days, at Kumily, it was heaps of cardamom and pepper that you passed by as you walked the main street. Today, strings of spice packets make the displays in shops. The spices are the same, the packaging is new.

In the informal sector in the towns and cities in India, one finds a different display each day that you go into the bazaar. In the vegetable and fruits bazaar, sometimes it is only the heap of tomatoes that attract attention. At other times, it is the bananas that hang in bunches that are the most eye-catching. As you walk into the streets around the central core of the vegetable market, you see brass pots that sit outside a shop and on the footpath. There are often aluminium utensils of all shapes that begin to form a screen outside the shop, a “shop window” that is outside the shop.

It’s the quantum of brass or quantum of steel that must fill the display to catch the eye. It is afterwards the nature of the arrangement. So it is with spice vendors. The shop windows are first filled with spices and more spices. They create their own pattern. Glass and plastic are used extensively in urban shopfronts, their transparency making the showcasing of spices and other goods, more attractive. The spices are either in glass jars, in small glass containers or behind a glass front or panel of glass. Often, spices are in small plastic packets that hold in one string, more than ten packets, each with its names written, so that foreign tourists can take these back as “spices from india

No comments: