What’s not to like about bazaars in a new town? Walking around a marketplace warms the cockles of my consumerist heart like nothing else does. The sight of people hurrying into a bakery for jam buns, or window shopping for sweaters on a cold day, browsing books in a bookstore, or hurrying past a KFC without a second look, all that is designed to make you want a bit of that.

I can’t even pass by a vegetable vendor without stopping to prod the tomatoes, gawk at the yams, marvel at the radish or the number of strange greens on display. When The Family says we need to take some back with us, I don’t ask “Why?” I just calculate the number of kilos we might have available if we take all our warm clothes in our cabin baggage. I’ve developed this curiosity about tubers and leaves which are grown in different parts of the country and are not to be found in supermarkets.

I stop and take photos at sweet shops, even though I no longer taste all the kinds of sweets that I don’t recognize (I’m not my pre-pandemic self). In Darjeeling the sweet shops are Bengali. And fish? 2000 m above sea level, far from streams, the only fresh fish would be flying fish. But then right next to the railway station there’s a line of kiosks selling fish. Maybe it is iced and sent by train.

The zero waste store looked interesting. There were many kinds of envelopes, boxes, and bags made from recycled pulps and fibres. If only plastics and composites were as easy to recycle. As we found a stretch of downhill walk, we saw two people carrying large sheets of plywood on their backs. The sheets were anchored to their heads. I thought of the cervical problems that this could give rise to. Why don’t people use carts?


By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


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