The Bazaar of Our Town
In large towns, the “bazaar” consists of many streets, and in the old-fashioned towns very often each street has only one kind of shop in it. But our town is small, and the entire bazaar is in one street, which therefore has all the different kinds of shops together.
The street is very narrow, and the houses on each side are tall and old, and of all shapes and sizes. And it is very dirty and full of smells-some nice, like the smells of spices, and some very unpleasant. Naked children play about and make a noise; half-starved dogs try to find something to eat from the rubbish heaps; hens scratch for grain in the mud and get under our feet; little donkeys with big loads on their backs block the road, and people wander up and down, or sit on the side of the road smoking and chatting. A great surly Brahmini bull saunters down the bazaar and calmly takes what he likes from fruit and vegetable shops, and no one stops him, because he is holy. Naked beggars, or Fakirs, smeared with ashes and armed with long lathis and begging bowls, demand food from every shop and are given it; because they too are holy. The bazaar is always noisy-men shouting and talking in loud voices, dogs barking, cows lowing, and metal-workers hammering.
The shops are very small. They are just small rooms, with no front wall-all open to the street. The shop-man sits on the floor with all his goods round him, within easy reach of his hands.
Here is the bania, or grain dealer. He is a fat man, for he takes no exercise and eats plenty of ghee. His shop is full of baskets of flour, rice, gram, sugar, curry spices, and such like. Then there are fruit-sellers, their stalls piled up with oranges, bananas, guavas, mangoes, tomatoes, etc., and with potatoes, cabbages, cauliflowers, and onions.
The sweet vendor’s shop has a great attraction for flies and small boys; and next to him is the pan-seller.
Here are men making chicks of split bamboo for doors and windows; here tailor squats, turning a Singer sewing-machine; there a silver-smith blowing up his tiny charcoal fire and making bracelets and rings. Women squat in the street grinding corn; and the shoemaker cobbles old shoes. The bazaar rings, too, with the clang of hammered brass, and hums to the buzzing of the cotton-bow. Such is the bazaar in my town.