Thursday, April 28, 2011

To market, to market!

Hey everyone.  I’m sorry that this post has been so prolonged in coming to the web.  We got a computer that was new to us, and we’ve had some slight problems and technicalities with it.  I had written over ½ of this blog post on it when it totally crashed and I haven’t been able to fix it yet to get anything off of it.  (Slight disappointment)  SO I was feeling extremely discouraged, upset, and not in any mood to blog.  BUT  now that you know my excuses let’s head to the MARKET! 

It was very important for us to go the market one of the first days we were in India, because we need to get ready for the wedding!  We needed to get our material for our sari’s so that our tops and under skirts could be “stitched”. I’m getting ahead of myself though, before we head out there are a few things you should know about shopping in India. 
#1: NEVER pay the price the person is asking for.
Isn't he charming?
Bartering is just a way of life in India, and in most of the foreign countries I have visited.  But what I found most interesting in India was how young they ingrain bartering in the children.  Ryan is four and he is the nephew of the family we spent most of our time with.  He is extremely charming and is going to an English Christian school where they are teaching him to memorize certain passages of the Bible.  His parents wanted him to quote psalms 23 for us.  He didn’t really want to so there was some bribery involved; they told him he could have a chocolate if he said the verse. Satisfied, Ryan starts the chapter. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me…” he stops mid sentence holds up two fingers and says, “TWO chocolates!” It was from this moment on that I realized how young the Indians learn to barter!

Me, Angelina, Emily and Rosie
#2 in most situations you should have an Indian with you so that you don’t get ripped off. Often if the sellers saw a white person the price would double and sometimes even triple.  And EVEN if you got the price to come down you still were paying much more than you should have.  In our case, Angelina, will be our amazing tour guide, and constant barterer.  I have NEVER seen anyone be able to haggle a price down like she did.  More stories of this to come!

 The bangle shop will be our first stop.  Make sure you watch out for the trash, and those power lines that are just laying everywhere!

  Under the canopy of the bangle tent we start looking at the multitude of colors and designs of bangles.  From what I heard, traditionally bangles were only worn by married women, but it’s not as common now, anyone can wear them.  In India the women LOVE their bangles.  I was talking to Angelina, our chatter box and constant shopping guide, about bangles and I asked her if she wears them to bed.  She said, “YES… I like to hear them jingle when I roll over at night!” We needed to find bangles that matched the material we had picked out… so we found them and now let the bartering begin.  The first price they are asking for is 1500 rupees which is 33 dollars.
Photo taken by: Emily Walters
  Angelina thought that that was an outrageous price and she starts talking a mix of fast English and Hindi all at once.  Meanwhile we all just stand and watch her pretending like we know what’s going on until we see her shake her head from side to side (the equivalent of nodding) and hear her say, “TK”.  She turns and tells us the final price, “500 rupees (about 11 dollars) for two full sets of bangles”.   Now I don’t know about you all but I’m amazed at this girl’s skills… over the course of 5 minutes she managed to pay a THRID of the original price! From now on we're not going shopping without Angelina again!

What’s that?  Did one of you say you’re thirsty?  Well you’re in luck; right next to our bangle shop is a man making chai!
He has a gas burner and he’s making chai for whoever would like to pay 30 rupees (less than a dollar).  The liquid boils up, he takes the pot swirls the chai so it almost sloshes over the edge and then sets it back down on the flame so it boils up again and he repeats the process. When he’s pleased with the caramel color he strains the tea into plastic cups and serves you your chai.
Please don’t be too anxious to drink the chai because it’s VERY hot, and I almost always burn my mouth! 

Let’s walk on and enjoy the sights, smells, and people.  I’m sure you’ve noticed there are a lot of cars, motorcycles and people everywhere and there’s NEVER a silent moment.  Horns are always honking and letting you know when you’re in their way.  All around you there are tables full of fruits and veggies.
Emily and our shopper, Angelina. 
Over there are some coconuts, yes the green round things are really coconuts!  They are the type that they slice open, stick a straw in and you drink the milk.  I don’t really enjoy it but everyone here says it’s good for your stomach if it’s upset.  They also have other coconuts too but the green ones seem to be much more common.
This face should have been a clue!
 Angelina has gotten ahead of us and has
joined a crowd of people standing around this street vender, holding paper bowls and eating something that the man seems to be making for them.  In her cheerful voice she tells us that we HAVE to try Panipuris, they’re Max’s favorite and he can eat FIFTY of them!  Emily and I decided to be brave and we step up in the circle and join the hungry crowd.  I hold my bowl and the man puts this small fried bowl (the size of the mini cream puffs) in my bowl.  He places a few cubes of fried egg, adds a red sauce and some cool broth into the fried bowl.  Joseph, the man shopping with us, has already gobbled one down so we ask him, “Is it good?” He smiles and says, “yeah kind of”.  Well that seemed safe enough so Emily and I decide to dive into the water together, you see because the liquid you have to pop the whole thing into your mouth at once.

Into our mouths the concoction goes and I chomp down.  There’s NO way possible to prepare yourself for what was next to come.  Water gushes out, filling my mouth, the fried dough turns into crumbles and my cheeks are filled with swirling textures.  I don’t know what I’m supposed to do swallow it all or a little bit a time?  In the delay of swallowing my gag reflexes kick in, and I almost lose it all.  I quickly gain composer and just take 1 huge gulp.
photo borrowed from

You all are cheering and laughing and Emily declares that she “was fine until Erin gagged”.  Before we realize it the vender man is filling our plate with bite two.  The textures were too much for me, I drained the broth almost completely out and ate the snack that way, but after two I’m finished and ready to move on to our next adventure.

  I still feel a little hungry so we find another vender selling something like deep fried grilled cheese with a relish inside.  This is MUCH better and I enjoy a whole serving of this! 
 In this market you can find anything you need or want.  One shop is selling small tea cups, plates, and serving dishes.  Another vender is selling white material and next to him are the men dying scarves whatever color you need.  Men are sitting on low stools putting mehndi on hands and feet for about 200 rupees (4 dollars) and others with little carts selling soda. Something I find very interesting is all the men sitting next to sewing machines altering or sewing new designs.  I had to laugh and think about some of the guys at home sitting down to a sewing machine.  They think varnishing is “women’s work”, I can’t imagine what they would do if they had to alter or mend their own clothes.  

Most of the streets are just repeats of other streets we’ve been down, but it’s fun to see the people, smile at the children, and just experience it all!I can’t help but wonder what it would be like living here… day in and day out, until you know all the venders, and they no longer see the color of our skin.  

Let’s hop on a rickshaw and ride home.  Rickshaws are bikes in the front and a cart with two wheels on the back.  Most times you can fit three people on and the driver will peddle you where ever you’d like to go.  A good price from the market is about 30 rupees (less than 1 dollar).  I hope you don’t mind the bumping of the uneven streets or the panic of being in the middle of the intersection surrounded by honking horns.  Rickshaws are a fun, and cool way to get around and they let you see all the sights of India!

What are some memories of adventures this has brought back to you?  Have you even been to India before?  I know there are a lot of people who read this blog and I'd LOVE to hear some of your adventures!  Don't be shy, I'm waiting to hear from you!


Naomi Wipf said...

Okay, I feel like I'm commenting on everything; but right now I SO badly want to do something like that...It's all totally foreign to me, but someday I AM going there...I love how you describe everything, Erin, it's almost like I was there and saw everything myself...Love you ~

Keep Your Lid On said...

Love traveling through India via your postings! So much fun! Still chuckle when I think of those water bowls!

Anonymous said...

Erin these pictures are amazing. thank you for describing everything so well. I hope I can go to India someday. I would LOVE to!

manda joy said...

ok Erin the anonymous comment was me I made it anonymous by accident :) - Amanda Wurtz

Anonymous said...

i think you already know this but... i absolutely love reading your posts.. you're a very talented blogger :) it was awfully fun hanging out at your house last weekend.. wish we could do it oftener.. :( <3

Marnely Rodriguez said...

oh my god, I am SOOO jealous!!! :) And happy you did all this and all the food. I need to go there NOW!