Diwali shopping

Tomorrow is Diwali, and today will be the last day of shopping. In most years I would have refused to venture anywhere near a market in the week before that. But, as a street vendor told me on Sunday, “The market has no colour yet.” I finished my photo walk on Sunday afternoon, when the crowds were thin, and my shots were not continuously spoiled by people jogging your elbow. I walked from the shops selling Diwali lights, to the ones which sell flowers (plastic flowers!), past vendors selling bubble guns and coloured boxes, toys and sweets and even a street-side barber.

Now looking at the photos I see that I concentrated on the universal language of trade: customers trying to choose between options, trying to strike a bargain, or looking at merchandise which is beyond their price bracket, vendors who look desperate to sell, some who are doing good business, and a boy selling plush toys who wanted to have his photo taken. I made his day when I took his photo, and he made my day.

Happy Diwali to everyone.

Diwali is coming

It is ten days to Diwali. The area between Crawford Market, Mohammad Ali Road, and Manish Market is a sea of humanity dashing itself against the rocks of Diwali stalls. Not quite, dashing is impossible in this crowd as I found yesterday. People are so closely packed in this area that foot traffic often comes to a halt until one person manages to turn sideways, or manoeuver her bags, so that others can slide past. I was forced to walk through this, because the road traffic is jammed up as badly. I’d forgotten about the Diwali market and tried to take a taxi through it.

I did not dare to walk along Mohammad Ali Road, because that is where the firecracker stalls are. Firecrackers of all kinds are significantly cheaper than in the rest of the city, so that is where the tightly packed nucleus of the crowd is. I negotiated the relatively less densely packed road, only about the density of Mumbai suburban trains at rush hour, where stalls sold lanterns and lights for Diwali. They seemed to be manned by underage boys.

2015-10-31 13.14.09

Spring is not the season for cleaning house in India: it is during this festival season when everyone does a major round of cleaning. It was interesting to pass a mosque which was being cleaned and painted. Mosques serve lunch and dinner every day to anyone who wants to eat (a custom that crossed over to Sikhism). So, large mosques have large kitchens attached. I passed one in which the kitchen was undergoing the Diwali cleanup. The huge cooking vessels were piled up on the road just outside the mosque, making a very pretty picture in the crowded lane.