Friday, November 23, 2007

Buddh Bazaar

It is not unusual to find yourself helplessly stranded in the middle of Mahanagar on a Wednesday afternoon or evening. You will either be wondering aloud why you forgot it’s Buddh Bazaar today or you will be sitting on your haunches haggling with the chinhat tea-cup and saucer selling man who looks suitably surprised when you show him the chip on his twelve rupees a dozen china cups which are glazed a caramel brown.

“We don’t come every week,” says an indignant young Samiyah from Indranagar but her mother Arshia is a Buddh Bazaar veteran. “You have to know how to deal with these shopkeepers, they are very clever. The minute you like something they multiply the price by five!” says the mother, trudging off to buy Samiyah a denim jacket.

The long stretch of the bazaar seems to get longer by the week. Traffic is closed on one of the roads where potters and bangle sellers vie for space. It is on one of these roads Bihari the tea seller shares quick words with his customers, a lump of tobacco strategically tucked in a corner of his mouth. “I only sell to the shopkeepers!” announces the most popular young man at the bazaar. He flits about in all four directions with his brass tea carrier and basket of kulads, stopping only to offer a free kulad to an occasional Hawaldar sahib.

While the sweater, jacket, purse and shoe sellers have their shops at the best spots, the cloth bag and plastic flower sellers are pushed onto the dividers. Arjun and his wife Mamta have been selling bright plastic flowers from the divider for over seven years, “Yeh toh 12 maah ka product hai,” quips Arjun who sports a trendy Lee cap he bought at the bazaar while Mamta busies herself arranging the fluorescent, orange, red, pink and yellow bouquets. “We used to sell Delhi-flowers first, now we sell China-flowers. See the China flowers have more petals and the combinations are brighter”, beams Arjun who makes an average of seven hundred rupees on a good Buddh market day.

But one gets used to hearing about Chinese products here. Next to Arjun and Mamta is the omniscient toy seller, he has a new toy this week. A hairy brown mouse with wheels and a chaabi. “This is from Cheen, the mice I used to sell earlier were plastic ones for ten rupees each. This one is for seven rupees and it has hair”, he squeaks with delight. An on looking father immediately buys two.

Mohammad Idries has been selling sweaters at this bazaar for over twenty five years. “This bazaar was nothing! There were only four other shops including Sharma babu’s and Khan’s. Even the quality wasn’t so fancy, now women and men want shiny clothes for daily wear too”, he yawns. Looking out of his makeshift shop he calls for Bihari, before he continues “I now get my sweaters from Ludhiana too.” On asking if anyone from the Buddh Bazaar has managed to set up a permanent shop he shakes his gray head and frowns, “Not enough profits!”

By the roadside you will find the occasional enterprising young man who will be hawking glucose bottles filled with seven colourful blue fry and one water weed for the flexible price of fifteen to thirty rupees for the same bottle. Or maybe you will meet the old woman who’s spectacles are tied behind her head in order to reduce the chances of them falling down while she polishes shoes she can barely see. Sitting by her father might be a little girl like Rampyari who is chiseling a sil-bhatta busily, her chin tucked between her knees as she sits on her haunches. Her father sells new green marble chaklas for making rotis, “One fifty rupees madam, new piece” he says in English.

And on another divider stands young Arvind Singh. He is selling bags which are hanging from the telephone pole and a quarter of the length of the divider’s entire fence. “I am a potter! I sell bags only during this season”, he says quickly and without provocation. “I also sell my products in Barabanki” he adds before telling one what he does for the rest of the week. “Well, on Wednesdays we are here in Mahanagar, Thursdays Aminabad, Fridays Barananki, Saturdays Sadar, Sundays Nakkhas and Mondays there is no bazaar while on Tuesdays we are in Alambagh!” He then resumes his calls for customers, his “Tees rupyaih ka ek” merging with the clamor of “Dus ke chaar”, “ Woolen bhi, garam bhi”, “Samosa, pakora, chai…”, “Ice cream” and others.

1 comment:

Vaibhav said...

Old Memories,amazing..good work