Of Cabbages and Kings

November 28, 2006

Of bazaars and colonial pasts

Filed under: Random musing — Chinmayi @ 5:36 pm

Living in a ‘big city’ with it (comparitively) sanitized supermarkets, perfumed tissue-paper, orderly beige and black queues and disinfected floors tends to push the memory of real homegrown bazaars a little further into the recesses of your memory.

I went to a proper bazaar, a few days back. A real bazaar that mushroomed out all over an old colonial mall, and took over its host like an overzealous parasite. So there are brilliant colours hanging and swirling around, crowds so thick you can’t take a step without elbowing someone out of your way, vendors selling bright red and yellow channa with onions seated all along the road, others walking along sticking beaded purses and imitation sunglasses before your face. You emerge panting from this throbbing sea of personlaties that inundate you with their colours and voices, and dive into a little gilded shop that sells sandalwood perfume. You reappear at the doorway, and dive down a tiny pathway that winds between the bangle-sellers and sticker-vendors and look up suddenly to find an old British arch hanging sheepishly out of a green and yellow hoarding.

You look at the wall, the floor and the high ceiling of the corner you have just turned and realise that you have seen this place before. Many times, in many cities. And that this burst of colour and noise obscuring an old sad grey, firm and elusive wall is so typical of your roots.


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