After a long time I strolled around the Friday Bazaar in Sheikh Sarai along with my wife .We had nothing particular in mind to buy and the stroll was really part of the breaking-in of the new Runtone shoes I had picked up .Ironic isn’t it? Runtone shoes on a stroll around a middle or lower middle class market place.
For the un-initiated, the Friday Bazaar is an extension of the weekly marketplace of rural India into urban townships. Little mobile shops spring up late afternoon and the place becomes a buzz of activity and crowds, making driving through the temporary market a nightmare ; till late evening when the shoppers head back home and the sellers strip down their makeshift shops and move on, to return the following Friday. And so the wheel of life goes on and on.
You can get almost anything the middle class house hold might need ; clothes of all kinds , bags , plastic utensils, shoes and slippers, gift items ,vegetables & spices , clothes lines and pegs and what have you .I guess you get the drift. The place hums with activity and milling crowds jostling their way around. A camera can’t fully capture the mood though a video camera skilfully handled may, and even that won’t capture the smells and aroma of the Friday Bazaar.
You do get the odd stare or curious glances but most of the people are intent on their own purchases and haggling for the attention and best deals of vendors. The impact of inflation is writ large on the buyer’s resigned faces, as they weigh the additional cost of daily vegetables and cereals. You get to be quite anonymous in the milling masses and can’t help thinking about their scarcity hit lives and their immense ability to cope.
Sheikh Sarai, which started as a township for retired government personnel has a different flavour now .Wine shops attract crowds from the neighbourhood and the inevitable shacks that sell boiled eggs & other favourite snacks of the street side drinkers .The atmosphere is not what the doctor ordered for the respectable retiree. Young people with insufficient or no employment abound and are frustrated with their inability to fulfil their dreams.
Tomorrows India needs an answer for these folks.