Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | January 4, 2009

Street Market

Takapuna Market

Takapuna Market

I always had the notion that street markets are an Asian concept. However, I am surprised to see that is not the case, at least as far as this country is concerned. Here street markets seems to be very popular. Just like a Haat that we see in India, these markets are popular, cheap and provides variety.

The Farmers’ Market which sits every Saturday from 8 am to 12 Noon at the heart of Auckland city sells fruits, flowers and vegetables. In New Zealand, any person who has a farm is a farmer. If today I own a house where I have space to grow fruits and vegetables I can be a farmer! Being a farmer is a matter of pride for this agrarian nation. Many of my consultant colleagues are farmers too. They and their family members love growing fruits, vegetables, flowers in their backyard and on weekends sell those things. Some of them even keep sheep and cows, so that they can graze the grass. People don’t fear retiring from their normal engineering, consulting or banking jobs because they don’t mind mixing their hobbies with business. Farming is a noble profession here not only because it is environment friendly, but it allows people to eat healthy, save (even earn) money and be rooted to their culture. The Farmers’ Market which sits at different colonies on different days provides an opportunity to these farmers to sell their products. Every farmer bring their produce in vans, erect the canopies and sell their produce at a very cheap price at these markets. These products are healthier than the vegetables one gets in the supermarkets. While I was buying vegetables from the farmers’ market and talking to some of these people, I was wondering isn’t backyard gardening common in places like Durgapur but then we have been too snob to call ourselves farmers and sell our produce, isn’t it? If this was not the case, then farmers would not have felt discriminated in our country.

Shops selling everything from Vegetables to curios, old books

Shops selling everything from Vegetables to curios, old books

The Takapuna Farmers’ Market is much bigger compared to the Auckland downtown one. There must be around 100 odd shops set up in canopies. This one sits every Sunday from 6 am to 12.00 Noon and the city council ensures parking is free for those coming to the market – either for buying or selling their things. The Takapuna Farmers’ Market has a huge variety of goods being transacted from fruits / vegetables / flowers to old books, collectibles, long-playing records, furnitures, hats, table lamps – actually – every thing!

We reached there quite early and spent a lot of time. I have never seen old books and collectibles sold like that along with fruits and vegetables. People even sold old goods that you normally get in a curio shop. Every shopkeeper behaves as if you are a guest and that makes shopping a great experience. I was pleasantly surprised and thought this is the ideal Haat. This is not a place where you would buy in bulk since these vegetables are so fresh if you don’t eat them up quickly they would perish. There is no bargaining unlike markets in Asia.

Bahari Tupi

Bahari Tupi

Sometimes you don’t know what to do, when you land up in a place which you did not think that exists. Here it seemed that civilization has blended nicely with something which is perhaps a bit primitive. In Takapuna market my amazement was such, I ended up inside the stalls for nearly three hours without buying anything. I went to the vegetables and book shops at the same time. I never ever had any knowledge or interest on long-playing records of Western music but I browsed through some. I also sat with a shopkeeper selling curios.

We had fresh fruit juices, doughnuts and Hungarian Hot Dogs. In all the three shops from where we bought these things, the teenage (or near teenage) sons or daughters were helping their parents. Sometime those children were small but still they were so engaged in the activities around.

People here throng these street markets but the new generation sometimes see these as signs of underdevelopment. I wish these things don’t become extinct in a hurry in preference to malls.

The best thing to me was seeing a child walking with his parents to sell vegetables on a weekend. The child’s father informed us that he used to do that with his own dad. To-day the father is a banker on the weekdays and the child is learning to surf on the sea. Yet, they want to retain their farmer identity, grow vegetables and come back to the farmer’s market to sell their produce.

Wasn’t the above we hoped for our farming community and are we not an agrarian economy too?

By the way, the Takapuna market ends at 12 Noon. After a walk on the beach when we came to the place (where the market was) at 12.30, we could not see any sign of the market – there was not even a leaf! It was clean – prim and proper.

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Responses

  1. Surprising! This is quite a different account of a foreign land as comapred to what one hears from someone abroad. They talk about clean roads and high rises. But this account is extraordinary. I was very happy and pleased to hear something so different, simple and beautiful. Here in Durgapur too people grow vegitables in their backyard. But there is a shame in acknowledging it. Very strange indeed. This speaks a lot of the difference of culture.


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