For an Indian, there is no way that he/she wouldn’t ever have gone through a bazaar. One will find one or more in all the cities and villages. It’s actually a Persian word meaning a marketplace. So probably in all the countries where the Persians went for trade or for invasions, they brought this entity called the bazaar into existence. Now I don’t know how the bazaars are in other places but in India, they are like a giant living organism! You really need to go to one to feel the hustle-bustle and the vibrancy of the bazaar!
And the funny thing is – the old bazaars in all the cities – be it Bangalore or be it Lucknow, are so alike that if you could read/speak all the Indian languages, you wouldn’t feel any different being here or there!
In Bangalore, one such bazaar is on “Avenue Road” – the criss-cross of lanes beside which teem with anything and everything that one might want to buy in India! Many of them are wholesale shops, so people go there when they want to make bulk purchases but these shops sell retail also and at a lower price than the purely retail shops. In Lucknow, the counterpart is “Aminabad”, in Delhi it’s “Chaandani Chowk” and I think in Hyderabad, it might be Chaarminar bazaar.
Why am I writing about this? Because I am just awed by these bazaars! They are filthy, with narrow lanes, cows roaming about along with the people, dirty water running on the street with a maze of electric wires visible if you glance up and really old discolored buildings. And then you would see an occasional swanky car trying to navigate through the street, beside hand-carts, horse-carts and bullock-carts! In Lucknow & Delhi, you will also see cycle-rikshaws. Lots of small-shop owners who come there for making purchases for their shops, can be seen on their two-wheelers (moped, motorcycle, scooter), with things loaded all around them! The lanes of course also have temples, with people nodding their heads in the direction of the temples when they pass by. It’s really an interesting way of worship – your head has to be bowed by looking in the direction of the temple by the side, while also being careful to not bump into the next person, and into another vehicle if you are driving! And you also need to be careful about pickpockets! All this can happen only in India.
Despite all the discomfort, if what I have explained above repulses you, you will still go there because you know you can find anything and everything that you are looking for, if it is traded in! Students come for books, housewives come for bargains in dress-materials/sarees and grocery, artists and craftspeople come for supplies, people wanting to buy jewellery – precious ones as well as imitation, hardware, technology stuff – you name it and you’ll get it! The shops are small, the inventories huge and even with no electronic management of their inventory they know exactly what they have and what needs to be ordered – they don’t need to even leave their counter to go check that! It all works as precisely and as efficiently as let’s say – the human body and that’s the reason I feel like I am inside a living organism when I am in a bazaar! The noises of vehicles, hawkers selling their goods, buyers bargaining with the sellers, temple bells. bizarre ringtones of mobile phones, along with the smells of street-food, drains, cows, flowers, fruits – they all are inseparable part of the bazaar!
It’s an overwhelming experience and definitely not for the faint hearted! When you return home in the evening after having spent a whole day there exploring stuff, buying things which you need and also which you don’t need, you feel a sense of accomplishment, with the pockets/purses empty of cash and several bags full of things for which you again need to find a place in your already overflowing cupboards! Here’s my toast to the Great Indian Bazaar!
And here’s a picture of a horse-cart parked in a no-parking zone 🙂 in the bazaar :
P.S. Hopefully one day I will also explore such a bazaar in some other country too! Let’s see :-).