Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | August 24, 2010


The other day I was part of a professional course which concerned client interactions. In one of the exercises that the instructor planned for the attendees, the participants were asked to pick a random picture card and describe something odd about them using the picture on that card. The exercise was directly not related to our course, but it was meant to bring the participants closer to each other.

I picked up a photograph of a supermarket rack and declared to the group that though every Saturday I go to the supermarket, I hate going there. I am not sure whether it was odd enough but other than that I could relate anything odd the connected me and the supermarket. In reality though, I do have a dislike visiting the supermarkets.

My late Pishemoshai (my father’s elder sister’s husband) was known to be very fond of going to the market. Of course, markets in India are not the same as supermarkets in developed nations like New Zealand. Street markets in India are the most common markets and are called Bajar. Though retail outlets have become a reality in big cities, most people still prefer the street markets. I cannot imagine my late Pishemoshai preferring a supermarket ever because he needs to check each and every vegetable or fish he buys by feeling them individually. He will not only feel them but discuss their wellbeing with the vendor. Only thing which Pishemoshai did not do, which many people do in India is to fight/argue with the vendor. Bargaining is an accepted and integral part of street markets in India.

I accompanied my father to these markets as a child. I could understand that even he does not find the act of going to these places as interesting as many others do. However as a responsible family man he continued doing that work. As a child since I accompanied him, he tried his level best to make the Bajar trips interesting. He bought me very authentic Indian junk food (like Jilipis and Kochuris) and also told me stories about certain fishes/vegetables. If I jog my memory to realise how many different street markets I have visited till the time I reached the Pacific shores, the list will be fairly long. Some of the significant ones are: Sodepore Bajar, Jodu Babur Bajar, Jyotish Roy Road Bajar, New Alipore Bajar, Lake Market, Kalighat Bajar, Lake Gardens Bajar, Jadavpur Bajar, Tollygunje Bajar, Charu Market, Durgapur Benachity Bajar, Durgapur Ashish Market, New Delhi C.R. Park Market and many more for sure. If this list comes from a person who disliked visiting a Bajar, imagine how long the list is for somebody who likes such visits.

I did not like Bajar visits because Bajars are always crowded, people are always loud there, and they are dirty and smelly. Also, till the time we did not have a car we had to carry all the things that we bought. All these things made me dread Bajar trips and I always looked for opportunities to avoid them. After a point of time, my father went to Bajar alone and never ever asked me for company. Today I feel ashamed that I did not accompany him to Bajar for all these years. Now that I am a family man myself and not a kid, I understand how important it is.

Now, I dislike Bajar trips doubly but still I have to go to Bajar myself (albeit in New Zealand and my wife provides company) and I cannot avoid it. Yes, the supermarkets here are clean and nobody is loud but may be I have too strong and bad memories from Indian Bajars. However, I still go to supermarket regularly I am thankful to my wife she provides company (actually I provide her company in reality).

I have learnt now that if I have to live, I have to go to Bajar even though I may hate it for a lifetime. I have accepted this reality. Currently, my parents are visiting New Zealand and I have decided I will never allow my father to visit supermarket alone! Life has turned full circle for me now.



  1. This was a good post to read. I hate the city bazaars too, in Tamil they sre called Chandais. The ones back in our native village are actually fun to go to. They are neither smelly or dirty and the vendors are always nice 🙂

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