It is raining as I write this. And it was raining when I took the pictures below. And it will continue to rain indefinitely until the monsoon season decides to leave this country. A land at once sated, and harassed. Patience is a virtue you might wish to keep a good stock of while you visit this blog in the coming days, for it will have more of rain. And of the places I visit. Today, feast your eyes on life, as the world lives it. The levels of struggle, the extent of including the unnecessary, may differ from communities to communities, species to species, but the world does live on these — struggle for comfort, struggle for food, and the occasional indulgences.
Adat bazaar at Nainital -- the place we will see today. Adat means a wholesale market for vegetables and fruits, and sometimes grains.
Sitting on a high perch, I looked at the intense interest people have in the one thing that is arguably the basis for all life -- food.
Wholesale vendors look for bulk sales, retail vendors look for the best bargain.
Like these mangoes, most vegetables come to Nainital from the outside. The terrain of the town is such that not much can be grown here.
This lady is oblivious to the sounds of haggling, rain, triumph at a good bargain, despair at the grumbling stomach. She reads her newspaper among her ivy and geraniums.
This man under the umbrella has deft fingers.
To fill this carton with carrots....
... he chops off the unnecessary with a knife. Sometimes two, or three carrots at once. Where do the scraps go? We'll see.
This porter is one of the many, who make life in a hill station like this livable. They carry anything from grocery bags to fridges to homes that are right up on the mountains where no vehicle goes. Where these young boys in their Adidas shoes will not dream of going in slippers.
These women were probably devastated. Outsiders, they did not know it could rain; and the steep climb didn't add to the comfort. But there's always a shoulder to lean on when you're with friends, no?
Though I love the normal fuschia, I am beginning to like these with a white bottom. They display the contrasts so well.
Forgive me for adding the unnecessary. I just love the look of wood. If only we planted more trees to make up for the ones we fell.
This police woman was careful to not let wet splashes ruin her kurta. Holding the umbrella with one hand, she grabbed the flailing cloth with the other. What would she do, if she had a handbag, I wonder.
This young lady was enjoying the drizzle, for it had become a drizzle by this time. Showing off her ponytail (or was it happiness radiating through the ponytail?), she looked around with great interest.
These people don't look too happy, now, do they?
Ah, a lawyer. Walking to the High Court nearby. I love his pinstriped trousers. Don't you?
Jalebis and pakoras. And copious amounts of oil in the middle kadahi. 🙂
These school kids were wondering if they could leave the tiffin boxes their mothers had packed for them somewhere around here, and, when they needed to eat during the school recess, they could sneak into the canteen outside of their school. Tiffin boxes a cumbersome to carry.
Another unnecessary picture. It is here because I love letter boxes. Much more than the email inboxes. And I love the canisters for milk in the background, too.
The clouds were closing in again, the wind vane surprisingly silent.
This fruit section of the market attracts few people. It is expensive.
Our sparrow friend hopped on this electricity line, obviously pleased at the short-term respite from the falling water.
It never ceases to amaze me -- the incredible amount of wires and cables and lines we have to depend on. So many connections, such ugly ones. And so necessary.
Sometimes ugliness has a virtue -- of being quaint, and most of all, of being useful. Someone has tied wires around this tired gutter. It is almost as good as it needs to be!
This monkey stole a roti (chapati) from a shop nearby. By the time I could divert my attention from the drain, he had already tried his loot. And got bored with it, for some reason.
Moving on to the rooftop, he did something more exciting -- got himself de-liced.
And then, returned the favour. The pleasure was doubled, for as he discovered subsequently, lice are tastier than rotis.
Potatoes. The one vegetable that everyone HAS to like. Oh? You don't? Think of all the wow-energy it gives you! For cheap, too. Hill people in India love this vegetable, for it is one of the few things they can grow, it is tastier than the ones found in the plains, and it is comfortably priced.
Grain sacks, brooms, shoppers and wealth. Of sorts.
A local mithai shop. Sweetmeats. The brown thing is chocolate barfi. A favourite among the tourists.
Back to what drove me to sit on this perch in the first place. The sheer energy of this place!
And all for this.
A porter carrying apple cartons to I do not know where. I wonder what they do to their drenched clothes once their day is done. Once it is time to settle in wherever they settle in for the night. Do they have spares?
This caller was calling for gourd takers. He has a humungous task. People usually do not like gourds.
And look at this, this feat of mankind. Standing here for at least a century, defiant. Though it might seem like it is neglected by the successors of the ones who made it, it is simply a matter of choosing aging over botox. Oh, chuckle all you wish. It is indeed so. The day you become as wise as I am today, you'll know.
Laugh at my foolishness. I'll laugh with you. Things are meant to be maintained, of course -- so that they don't leak, look good. But if things are functioning well the way they are, beauty can be found anywhere -- so that the resources can be saved.
Speaking of which, I wish we had not discovered the virtues of a CFL. It is inelegant, and gives off the worst light possible. What resources are we saving?
I wonder if these tomatoes will go all pulpy by the time this person takes the sack to his small roadside shop somewhere in the other end of the town. Do you know?
These are more patient witnesses of this bazaar. They might.
This person kept coming up to adjust the plastic roof above his shop.
And here comes my favourite part of the outing!
His master directed him carefully through the veggies.
But not carefully enough! Ha! What a catch! He got one big potato, all for himself!
After he unloaded the wares, the master didn't forget to cover our potato-lover with a sheet of plastic. It helps against the rain.
And now, he's found a tomato!
But this man could use some chai. And an umbrella. Shivering like he could shake off the cold, he kept looking for mangoes.
And here's our scrap user. Remember the scraps from de-greened carrots? This man's companion was collecting edible waste from all the stalls, dumping them here. But the man couldn't wait for her to come back to sit with him and eat. He began his feast without her.
She's got her week's requirement. And is now looking for some fruits. Eventually, she just went away. Perhaps they were not to her taste.
There is such a difference between use and misuse, wouldn't you say? A few years back, this bazaar scene would have made me furious. Why is there so much disorganisation? Why can't they make proper shops? What about the ones who see food in front of them, but have to eat the waste? There are so many questions that probably need no answering. Or perhaps they are answered without words.
Like everything else, everything that is not else, lives. And life is about survival.
But what about reaching for the sky?
What about achieving that one extra inch of height, so that you are higher than the others? Better, efficient, creative, beautiful.
I do not know. But I do know that with time, and harsh drops of rain, only the one who focuses on the necessary will win. In their own right.
I leave you with the images of these birds, who wouldn't say "I lose", no matter the intensity of the rain.
Each dealing with the rain in their own way,
Some patient, some otherwise,
Some wishing I'd stop analysing.
This is for you, Rosie.