The dirtiest and one of the most busiest markets in Bangalore. At 8 AM. Which was probably a little late because the real work here happens around 6-7 AM, but considering our level of laziness, me and a few other friends did a photowalk at Russell Market in Bangalore.
It was interesting… I’d been there a couple of times. Once, when a friend and me returning after a party decided to take a short cut and avoid 2 kms of a road and a traffic light headed into the maze. We followed a bus that we figured would come out on the other side, except the bus led us right into the centre and stopped.
So we wound our way around and finally resurfaced on the main road 40 minutes later.
The other time was again in an auto – least this time, the guy knew the roads. But it was right before Ramzan or some other Muslim festival, so the streets were crowded with last minute shoppers and it was truly a celebration.
So when my friend asked for suggestions for the photowalk, I figured that would be an interesting place.
I didn’t quite get the energy I was looking for.
The chaos and the noise. But there was activity. People were setting up for the day. The florists were knotting the flowers in garlands, stacking bunches of roses, sprinkling water and sorting the bad flowers out. There were rows and rows of fruit sellers and I smelled the rich scent of mangoes for the first time this summer.
That was probably also the last good smell for the day.
We wound our way past the florists and I caught a whiff of meat. That unique smell where you know there is flesh around the corner. I wondered if I should head in there alone or wait for my friends. I was starving by then but the smell of fresh meat? Ugh!
Plus one of the members of the group was a vegetarian. And then I realised he was off happily shooting flowers and fruits at the other end.
So we headed into the butcher’s alley.
I had seen something of the sort in Mysore. Rows and rows of butchers, with all kinds of meat. Well, at least there was space for all that. There were only a handful of guys and the meat was all goat. No pork in here.
And then I wandered out back to the fish market. How many times have the teachers at school called the noisy classrooms a “fish market”? Such a wrong comparision!! For one, classrooms are noisy. But they do not stink. And the fish markets aren’t noisy. Tch tch! But they sure as hell are interesting, once you manage to get over the overpowering stink.
Crabs, fishes, lobsters, big crabs (what are those called), alive, dead, partially alive, prawns of all sizes, sharks, fishes as big as me… mussells, something that looked like eels, squids… you name it and you could get it.
Some of it would be sent to the big hotels, one of the guys said. The others would vanish in a couple of hours, apparently. I wondered how much people should love food to get drag themselves there at 8 AM on a sunday morning to get fresh fish. They bought coolers to carry back their choice home.
I was tempted to pick up some prawns… but the thought of it in my bag for the next couple of hours, the stink… and the thought of fumigating my bag put me off.
I forget sometimes, living in the city, eating in clean houses, that this is where the food comes from. Most people wouldn’t probably order fish at those classy restaurants if they knew that the fish was lying on an open road a few hours earlier. Yeah, it is cooked and all… but hey! 🙂
We wandered out into the scrap market. A famous place to find spare parts for your car or bike, and I suspect, to chop up cars. There were parts of cars piled on houses and the tin shops. Most of them were still closed… they had no reason to be open at the crack of dawn. But there were enough people around to be curious about a crowd walking around with cameras.
They figured we were the press.
“No photos!” he said quite loudly.
I was wondering how to explain we weren’t the media, at least not right then.
Luckily, my friend stepped in and explained we were just practising our camera skills. It is so surprising how easily people take to the camera. I expected them to be shy, not happily cock their heads and pose for the photo. Some even requested a copy of the photo. The old man in the photo above got irritated at the young boys ragging him about us taking his photo than our cameras.
Is it an Indian thing? Or is it a general need for attention? Women, men and kids alike happily looked at the camera. Or blatantly ignored us. And here I was expecting people to come and say “Stop taking our photo”.
Interesting times. Stinky times.
(For more photos, try my flickr account. You can access it by clicking on here
or through my photoblog)
Song of the day: Smelly Cat – Friends