Monday, September 20, 2010

The Canal Bazaar

In Alleppey, spices are sold on little wooden platforms on the street. This does make the urban selling spaces of Kerala different from those in andhra or tamilnadu or elsewhere in India. The price in the informal sector is always lower than that in the regular shops. In Kerala, spices are abundant and can be bought at a street corner for a small sum of money. 

As you walk along the canal, you see shops that sell all kinds of chips. There are large packets of banana chips that line their shelves, waiting to travel soon to Bangalore and Chennai. How do these shops advertise? The chips are fried in a large pan which is part inside the shop and part on the street. Its advertisement at its best. There are tapioca chips and jackfruit chips, all fried in coconut oil. 

There are canals within the town of Alleppey. Most of the shopping areas abut a vehicular road. There are of course small, wooden kiosks along the edge of the canal. Some of these are on stilts, where the road level is higher than the canal level. So, they are anchored into the canal and face the road, so that people can shop as they go by. Other than these wooden kiosks, the regular shops are built in the conventional way and housed in concrete structures. 

In the older parts of Alleppey, one finds shops housed in small, traditional tiled roof structures with the typical Kerala pitched roof. Many of these structures have wooden facades. You buy in a local shop, you live in a local way. There is less pretence in small town lifestyles than in other larger indian cities. You know the shop owner and he knows you. With every sale and every purchase, the bonds between people grow stronger. There are spices, there are bananas and there are ayurvedic medicine shops on the bazaar landscape. 

Related posts :
Spice vendors and their displays
The Tibetans at the Cliff bazaar


radha said...

There is so much written about 'god's own country', but this is something new! How beautifully described.

Bindhu said...

Simple life with no malls and plastic money:)

Indian Bazaars said...

Radha : Thanks
Bindhu: So true. If you are travelling along the canal early morning, you watch the quiet buying and selling on the water's edge, with small boats coming in to sell fish or vegetables, so completely different from life in the city.