Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bazaar writings from Windy Skies

I have been thinking for some time to put up a post that includes links to blogposts on Bazaars from other blogs. As I sat down to look for such posts, I first started to read the posts from Windy Skies, a blog I read frequently and have learnt tremendously from, and realised that there were so many posts in it that were bazaar-related. So, I am devoting this post entirely to writings from this blog by Anil P. who agreed to let me link to his posts and to use his photos as well.

The first post included here from Windy Skies is Leaves of Life. This post describes beautifully how bundles of fresh leaves reach street vendors in Mumbai every morning to wrap the flowers or the berries for customers or to make the patravali, the leaf plate made of dried leaves.

“In the commotion of vehicles ferrying in milk, vegetables, and newspapers, and the brisk haggling at roadside fish markets, invisible are the hands that quickly pick out small green packs from their bags, flowers neatly wrapped in leaves and secured by thread, inserting the small bundle in the door handle before stepping away to the next apartment. There’s rarely a presence to be sensed until the door opens to the fragrance of Jasmine.”

Morning rounds in Delhi neighbourhoods listens intently to the call of the vegetable vendor as he pedals through the streets of Delhi – the hawker who knows his customer preferences and who listens carefully for familiar voices from behind closed doors, calling out as he goes by each home.

“A quick glance out the window as women step over to the cart to buy vegetables and you can fairly predict the lunch menu at the Guptas, the Kapoors, and the Sharmas.”

It is the time spent at Mishraji’s Paan shop on Cowasji Patel Street in Mumbai that Paan Melodies remembers. You watch and listen to how the meetha paan is made and you go back into time as Mishraji talks about his old customers from many years ago.

“After ‘forty years and three months’ of running a paan shop in Fort, I doubted if there was anything that Mishraji did not know about paans. A paan rested in a corner of his mouth as he turned to me and spoke in the same manner in which he made us the two paans, soft, and deliberate, taking his time, and in tune with the deserted Sunday afternoon in Fort.”

In the Goddess Durga rides Tiger on Dussehra, you experience the spirit of the festival of Dussehra and the transformation that streets in India undergo with the coming of every festival season. There are changes in the marketplace with vendor carts that usually hold vegetables becoming now the vehicle for the Goddess as she is taken for immersion, marking the end of Dussehra.

“On the retaining wall of the bridge that enclosed the path at one end, vendors had stuck various posters of Hindu deities, depending on the gods they worshipped and under whose benign eye they carried out their business.”

Nashik Chivda takes you to Panchavati where divinity and discounts go hand in hand, where pilgrims step down to the ghat in the backdrop of a vegetable market and where you look for the Nashik Chivda and its many avatars.

“While vegetable vendors call out to be heard above their competition, Chivda sellers have to do no such thing. Meanderers, young and old alike, ushered in by the weakening noon combine a quick prayer at the many temples in Panchavati with an evening out by the river and need little encouragement to snack on Chivda sold from the several vending carts in the vicinity, prominently announcing their wares on colourful hand-painted boards.”

It is sometimes the leaves, sometimes the Goddess Durga and sometimes the Nashik Chivda that the stories are woven around but Windy Skies has in these posts been telling us about the essence of an Indian Bazaar. Thanks Anil, for this.


Anu said...

I have read some of these posts on Anil's blog before, but it was a good idea to compile those related to your blog and put them up here!

radha said...

Anil brings the posts alive with his wonderful description. You have nicely compiled them here.

Anil P said...

Thank you so much for featuring this here.

It's very encouraging to learn of the sentiment you expressed about my posts in your own endeavour documenting life in the bazaars.

Anu and Radha: Thanks for the sentiment expressed.