Bizarre (pun intended)

Over the weekend, Anna and I went to Devaraja market. The bazaar!

A photo from our drive over.

As we drove over, Appu told us about how we should NOT try or purchase oils from the market. He said they were inferior quality, contained chemicals, would melt our skin, etc.

“Say no!” he said, then turned to us so we could repeat it.

“No!” we said.

“No, no!” he said, nodding.

It was clear that he was humoring us by bringing us to see the market, and he told us he would take us some place better afterwards. He pulled up to the gate of the market and told us to go ahead — he would wait for us.

Three seconds of video from the entrance to the market (click on it to play). It gives you a sense of the energy there.

A man selling vegetables.

“What is your country? Would you like to see me make incense?”

Of course, we would, charming boy.

And that’s how we found ourselves sitting in a bazaar stall with the boy and his family, as he made incense and the others showed us bottles of oils (“This one is like America. CK One! Calvin Klein!”) and put some of the oil our wrists.

“This is what Appu was talking about!” I said to Anna, who nodded.

Our wrists were anointed with many kinds of oils, as we were quizzed about America and showed a guest book that the owner kept of all of his customers and their countries. We wrote “Karen and Anna, USA” in the book.

Two women sat in the stall with us, with their heads covered. Apparently this is a Muslim family. They were fascinated by Anna’s monroe facial piercing and her ear gauges. India is a great place to travel with body art — people are really into it.

So yes, we bought some oils and then made our escape, smelling quite fragrant. Appu was totally gonna know we didn’t say, “No! No!”

“Inside” the market — actually it’s outdoors but covered with blue tarps.

The crush of people was pretty astonishing. We ducked into the doorway of a statue store and spoke with the owner for a moment. He explained that the next day was the Hindu New Year festival — Sankranti. He told us how to say “Happy Sankranti,” which I failed at miserably because my language skills are atrocious, but he was kind about my attempt.

Anyhow, what it meant was that our visit to the market was on one of the busiest days of the year. Everyone was shopping for their Sankranti celebrations the next day. We made a loop around the market and bought a few vegetables — tomatoes, garlic and peas. It was kind of hilarious, because as I put a few vegetables into the vendors’ scales, they would hold it up for the others to see so they could all laugh at how little we were buying. Obviously, small families are not the norm. Then they would gesture for me to open my bag, so they could dump the vegetables into my purse. No one asks “Paper or plastic?” at the market. You’re on your own, bag wise.

So now I had a purse full of ripe tomatoes and had to squeeze between a million people to get out of the marketplace.

Same picture of colorful powder dyes that everyone takes when they go to a market in India. As it turns out, though, there was an interesting use for these powders on Sankranti. The cows are dyed! More on that in a later post.

Goat hanging out in a quiet part of the market.

Looking back over our shoulders as we made our escape. Note the poles that you have to weave through to get into the market. Not sure what they’re for — to discourage bicycles or big dogs or skateboarders or something.

Next stop was a store with silick. πŸ™‚ Actually, the owner was saying “silk,” but his accent made it sound like “silick.” It was quite charming. He had one of the employees bring us tea (with saucers — fancy!) that we enjoyed as he showed us his wares. Our favorite part was that he would say, “I have two kinds of silick pants. There is this kind of 100 percent silick (he’d take an example out to show us and spread them out dramatically), and there is *this* kind of silick and cotton (another pair dramatically displayed). And *this* kind that are *embroidered* — look at that handiwork! And *this* kind that is handwoven!”

He showed us pants and skirts and tops and pillow covers and scarves — and each of them had “two kinds,” which inevitably ended up being a whole bunch of different kinds.

Ganesh statue. Anna’s birthday present.

This really was a good store — great stuff and good prices. Appu was right. He sat and waited as we looked at everything, then packed us back into the rickshaw and dropped us off at the Green Hotel, where we were eager to have a quiet dinner and decompress from the crazy market day.

I know this is blurry, but I’m posting it because it’s crazy. We are in the rickshaw, people drive on the left, which means this cow is walking up the street in the “fast lane.” No one minded.

Some shots from the rickshaw to show you how crowded the streets were downtown. Also how everyone rides on motorbikes, with many women riding sidesaddle.

Another rickshaw coming from the other direction.

By the time we were close to the Green Hotel, it was dusk. It was also time to fill up the tank. Appu asked if we minded if we stopped for petrol. Not at all. I’d been kind of curious about how much it cost to fill up the tank and where people bought gas.

Turns out, we were really in need of fuel. The engine was off and Appu dragged us into the gas station line. It was all rickshaws, so perhaps this was a station just for them? Not sure.

“Do you want us to get out?” I asked as Appu pulled us over a speed bump.

“No, no!” he said. Then he looked up and said, “Rickshaw yoga!” and laughed.

Here are the rickshaw drivers waiting in the fuel line. Interestingly, the gas is dispensed by girls in navy blue saris.

Next time: Cows! Jumping! Fire!

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7 thoughts on “Bizarre (pun intended)

  1. Haha!

    My burning questions: did he scold you for smelling like cheap oils? and did the tomatoes get smushed all over everything in your bag??

  2. Grrrrrrrr third attempt, iPad keeps eating my comments. So it’s still my day off and I still love having more time to read your post and really look at the wonderful pictures and still wondering how your going to get Anna’s giant Ganesha statue home which I love by the way, nice green

  3. Appu did not scold us for reeking of the oils he warned us against. I imagine it probably happens to every single person he brings to the market, no matter what he says. The incense kid was slick! And no tomatoes broke open in my purse — a holiday miracle. Last night I brought leftover chicken from Anna’s dinner back in the pocket of my purse. I’m getting good at this no-bag thing.

    Tony, the Ganesh is only about 7 or 8 inches tall. Heavy, though — it’s a nice bronze. Luckily we packed light on the way out. πŸ™‚

  4. I bought lotus oil from that same family. The brothers were all so nice. Unfortunately the incense sticks I bought got moldy after a few days and I had to throw them away but I love my lotus oil.

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