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.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Markets in Chennai

This is a guest post - a photo essay by Rekha Vijayshankar that focuses on the Bazaar along the beach in Chennai and at Washermenpet in the northern part of the city.

Beach Bazaar
The sea breeze has a way of whetting one’s appetite giving rise to a number of eateries along the beach that sell mouthwatering, fresh snacks. The unique food culture of Chennai’s beaches include bhajjis, roasted corn, fried fish and of course the well known Sundal !! Combined with coconut and raw mango, the refrain ‘Thenga, Manga, Pattani, Sundal’  is one that instantly evokes nostalgic memories of magical evenings spent at the beach.

Washermenpet  Market
One of the older localities of Chennai, Washermenpet is a highly populated area with commercial establishments, houses and people competing with each other for space. The snapshots of vegetable vendors, bangle sellers, cloth merchants, brass utensil makers and fish vendors were captured in the narrow, winding market lanes of this area. These bustling market places are not only places for people to find the best deals but also an important ground for social exchange.

I would like to thank Rekha Vijayshankar for contributing this guest post and for sharing her photographs. Rekha is a self-taught photographer with a keen eye for capturing people. As the Archiving Assistant at DakshinaChitra, Chennai she has documented a number of folk art performances.

Read about:
Faces in the Bazaar
Groundnut Fair at Basavanagudi
Flower sellers: To create, to forget

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Design Inspiration from the Bazaar

This blogpost features a studio for Trumpet by Meister - a Swiss fashion workshop in Cochin, Kerala which takes its design inspiration from the Bazaars. The design combines contemporary sleek finishes for worktops and shelves with fittings and furnishings sourced from local markets.

Stainless steel colanders to strain boiled rice become filigreed lampshades. Hand painted metal trunks are mounted on castors for mobile fabric storage. Porcelain pickle jars of various sizes are reborn as stationery holders. The mix is intended to reflect the nature of the fashion brand and further shape its emerging identity.

As Krishnan, the architect for the studio says “The creative direction for the studio came from the brand itself. Trumpet by Meister gets its inspiration from flea markets and thrift shops to create a mix and match style. Call it clutter chic. Some objects are reused or customised to fit the look. The interior design followed a similar logic of reuse"

The design involved the fit out of a 350 square feet verandah of an old Dutch-style mansion. Due to the historic nature of the building, interventions to the structure were kept minimal. Thus all furniture is movable with the exception of adjustable wall shelves which can be dismantled if need be. The studio is kept sparse with a black and white palette. The restored black oxide floor complements the lime plastered walls. Light airy screens made from disused Kerala saris shield the view from the busy street outside. 

"We looked around the bazaars close to our studio and were overwhelmed by the variety at hand. More choices than if we had walked into the international design furniture studio Ligne Roset. Some of the items we had settled on beforehand, like the trunks - some were a result of hanging around the stainless steel stores we love. The shopkeepers would invariably ask when we turned colanders upside down and held it above our heads. Once in a while we would even get a valuable suggestion on the proposed reuse”

It is really nice to know about this project and thanks to Krishnan for sharing with us his photos and his design ideas!