Mapusa’s Friday Bazaar- the very term conjures up picture of crowded narrow stalls, a multitude of wares, a maze of grocery and cloth shops, vegetable and fruit vendors and a surging throng of shoppers. I have seen a wide variety of weekly bazaars throughout India but I am yet to come across such an unique and exquisite bazaar as Mapusa’s. And my love towards it, is not because of its proximity to where I stay, but because of its very setting, its ambience and its overall appearance that makes it very special. No wonder it has created its own place on the world map and now figures in the itinerary of most of the star hotels.
My association with the bazaar began when I was about six years old, if memory serves me right. That time accompanying my father (who struck deals here for Mangalore tiles) in an ox-driven “Tonga’ was pure fun and I looked forward anxiously for this joyous event weeks after weeks. Here I had made many new friends and had acquainted quite well through dad and even big traders and businessmen.
But my affinity towards this weekly market was all the more because it offered a variety of items which were simply mindboggling. While the artisans and traditional craftsmen like potters, weavers, carpenters, black smiths sold their wares in open or in an improvised stalls at one corner, one could see the brisk sale of buffaloes and cows of quality breed, specially brought from’ ghats’ going on at the other corner. One could buy anything from fresh fish and sea foods like oysters, mussels, lobsters to provision foods and preserve like dry fish, tamarind, red chillies,…, different pickles and cereals ( some of which rare to find elsewhere) and orchard grown vegetables to different antiques like crystal lamps, colonial furniture, bronzed chandeliers etc.
The colorful, vibrant market still starts at 8am and ends at sunset time. Last month I was there after a long gap. Village women could be seen still squatting in row to sell their home made provision food, or local vegetables, under tattered umbrellas calling attention of every passerby. I could find some Portuguese antique pieces at one nondescript place while just a step away a man was cutting jackfruit to sell ‘ghore’ in retail!
Sometimes its nice to know that the past does not change. And in it lies real charm!