Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Haat e Bajar e -- to the Market (II)

The Smiling Vegetable Seller

As we moved places the character of the haat changed, some places they were more sunny and open air, at others they were very clean and neat but their very basic underlying characteristics remained same. They also gave way to more local bazars, vegetable sellers sitting at residential road corners with their vegetables was a common sight.

Flowers for Prayer share a spot with Vegetables for Mankind

My Baba now preferred them than going to the haat. He would get everything he wanted right around the street corner. These small vendors did not have a complex supply chain system. The farmers in the nearby villages and suburbs took the early morning local train and brought their produce to a nearby train station. The neighborhood vegetable sellers sourced the produce directly from these farmers and sold it to the customers.


The Not too Happy Fruit Seller

With the IT boom pushing middle class Indians towards more prosperity, the retail industry in India slowly started changing. Organized retailing, though late has started encroaching the Indian market and more and more air conditioned super markets selling grocery and vegetables are sprouting in the metros. Interestingly Nilgiri's Super Markets are the oldest retail chain in India, going back as far as 1904.

The Fish Guy by the Road

I myself hadn't seen an air conditioned grocery market until I moved to B'lore in the late nineties. I was so taken by them that I would go to Nilgiris or Food World just to pick up some small stuff. Vegetables there were too expensive by my standard but I loved their ambiance as did many of my generation. For the freshest of veggies we would make once a week trip to the Madiwala Bajar on weekends which had the same character and earthiness as the haat of my childhood but only in Kannada.

The Push Cart Vegetable Vendor or the Thela

Convenience shopping in the form of Supermarkets must surely be a boon for a lot of the urban Indian population who want to shop in luxury and comfort. They might not be the best thing for the small farmers, the kirana stores(local grocers) and the fruit & vegetable seller at the corner though. With big names coming in to the retail grocery chains they are able to support a more elaborate supply chain management system which pushes the customers still further away from the producer.

Following are some pics of a wholesale bazaar that Sra of When My Soup Came Alive sent me. Most of the vegetables sold here come from a 100km radius, she says.

Birds Eye View of the Market

In spite of the big names of the retail chains, my Dad and most of his generation will still think twice before paying for a bunch of Asparagus at Reliance fresh. He prefers the vegetable seller round the corner as do 60% of the Indian population living in suburbs and villages.

What do you prefer ?

Further Read on Organized Retailing in India

Photos courtesy of my Dad from India. I guess these are his favorite sellers.


  1. ki boli boloto? barbar bhalo bolte aar bhalo lagche na shudhu boli amra to bari theke dure thaki. tomar ei lekha pore khub bari jete ichche kare. mon bhore jay!

  2. My personal preference is the open air vegetable market a farmer's market. The air conditioned retail stores leaves a lot to be desired here in the US and back home.

  3. Thank you for posting these pictures! Nostalgia!

  4. I would love it if the fresh veggies come to my door everyday like in Bangalore, flowers and fruits too in carts. How wonderful. Wish I could go back and live there in a nice house and clean area with all those veggies coming right to me! :D

    Who cares about Asparagus in India when you get all those fresh Indian vegetables, your dad is right. Great pics, I will post one for you. Loved that smiley guy, so typical of Indians. Jai Ho!!!:)

  5. Definetly fresh veggies.What fun gossiping with the vege vendor,haggling good naturedly with them.How I miss all that in Mebourne.
    And I love love love the beautiful pictures.Thanks.

  6. Sandeepa, u have kindled swete memories by these two posts. I relished all viits to "Sandhai" we call during my childhood days holding on my grandma's hands and shop. Even now our family prefers buying vegetabls in local markets and I occasionally visit retailers for some facy vegetables or fruits.

  7. I prefer the open air market here and back home! The vendor comes at door step even the fishmonger!
    The most import open air , we can bargain get the fresh and cheaper.
    Ur dad is good photographer Sandeepa, all pic are colorful!

  8. Sandeepa,
    lovely pics of haat..(I have always thought/dreamt of taking pics of vegetable market but It would have been awkward for me!!! ...Imagine all rolling eyes and me pointing shots at them)
    I am so thrilled that you posted these pics ...as if my long waited project ended finally LOL..

    I prefer my street corner sabziwala/machwala over air conditioned retail chain grocery store for buying vegetables/fish anytime...and I do used to get all my grocery from the nearest "Modi khana"...even one of the helping boys at the "Modikhana"would help me to take gorcery to the home.
    I would never forget this "Didi, aajke onek din por elen" when I went to haat ,after only 1 week for vegetable/fish shopping as me and FIL takes turn for vegetable shopping back in home ..Just Imagine that guy remembered me .Can I find that warmth in that air conditioned retail market ..I dont think so!

    once again thank you and Mesho for posting these lovely pics..
    hugs and smiles

  9. I prefer an open air market to buy from because I believe the veggies last longer that way, but don't always do that because there aren't any easily found between home and the various other places i inhabit! I usually buy the veggies from a non-AC place, tho' it's not outdoors.

    The big names among the swank stores have some unusual vegetables but they are so old and badly stored and bruised that I cannot bring myself to buy them. I once found a huge slug amidst some veggies, not to mention several smaller creepycrawlies at other times.

    Funnily enough, there is a fruit seller who comes to our apartment building who even sells upmarket stuff such as strawberries and fresh figs in his basket! I was just telling my neighbour today that instead of sundry salesmen who are allowed into the building, we could engage more of these vendors to sell us fresh food, fish and fruit!

  10. In my dads family home in Allepy ) Kerala, the small shops were in small teeny boats, i remember when ever we went for visiting, i was always delighted to see these ppl comming in this boat to seel things. Even there was a bangle teeny boat to the delight of us girls.
    I also prefer the open market.
    When I first came here and saw the big super market I coudn't stop talking aobut them each tile I phoned home, can you imagine a shop we can get things like slat to TV etc........ my jaw was dropped till the floor when i went here first time.
    I must digg and see if i have a pic form one of the markets we visited when we were in India for holiday.

  11. I've been searching for a long time for this! Thank goodness I found your site on Yahoo.


    [url=http://habniya.co.il/gatorade/]full article[/url]

  12. Two wonderful posts Sandeepa. You must get them published somewhere. They give such a real depiction of an aspect of India...neither incredible, nor surreal...just real

    To answer your question. I like buying package goods from departmental stores. but no subsitutes to real markets/ small shops for fish, meat or veg buying for me

  13. Wow u took me to India!!!! Nice pics.

  14. Wonderful pictures Sandy..I remember clicking some too..that reminds me to check our for them..

  15. Such wonderful pics, a true depiction of markets while here its all the supermarkets and the monotonous way of shopping and miss all the huzzel buzzel of our markets!!!


  16. I loved it, Bring back the old memories. Refreshing and Sad. Mixed emotion.

  17. Great post Sandeepa...

  18. love this post Sandeepa. I remember my parents would go to the macher bazaar to get the fresh fish. And now they come home.

  19. Beautiful pics..can see whole india here...and brings all the memory..BTW first time here..


  20. Ohh how I miss those vegetable markets :((. They were so much more tasty compared to what we get here.

  21. I should have sent you some pictures of Gurgaon and Muzaffarnagar!

  22. I definitely prefer my local farmers market to the big supermarkets! Without a doubt! Not only is the food local and mostly seasonal, but it tastes far better. Plus the shopping experience in supermarkets is positively soulless, especially so when compared to farmers' markets.

    Many thanks to Sandeepa's dad for sharing his photos with us!

  23. I've been eating seasonally for a few years now, and can't imagine asparagus in January! It feels so unnatural. Not to mention it tastes of diddly swot!


Thanks for your Comments. I hope you will be nice and not Spam.