every sunday as the sun comes up into the sky the sellers make their way to the intersection of roads that forms the haat, the bazaar. huge blue plastic bags and large gunny sacks are brought in on strong and able shoulders, seasoned with the passage of time and roughened by the weight of life. there are over-stuffed auto rickshaws and arguing van drivers to be dealt with. the bamboo poles stretch out and plunge into the soft earth. yellow tarpaulin ruffles up into the roof and taunts the wind. the gentle wind that cool, the strong wind that reaches everywhere. the rain might drizzle down, but worries are shelved. the wares slowly unwrapped, laid out in neat piles in descending order of size, height, colour, type or price. order. the haat begins to form, begins to take shape, begins to get a life. it will linger for a day. it will entice with its wares. stretching its long fingers into the tiny, holed pockets of the village folk and tempting even the strongest into surrender. it will make its way into the hearts of every village house. this haat has everything that anyone can ever desire and it knows that. so it tempts, cajoles and persuades.
and thus the city makes its way into the village. and thus the city infringes the village. and thus we all become material brethren.
the village haat at bordi takes place around vijay stambh or victory pillar and all the way to the town. one lane has all the fish (stinky stuff), to one side lie stall selling vegetables and the other side is a mad array of items. at regular intervals you have the food stalls serving chai and garma garam pakodas. you name it and you would get it there — from food items, groceries, clothes, bags, suitcases, plastic knick-knacks and even cloth bags. i asked the stall owner who was selling the cloth bags why he was selling them and who boughtt it… his answer thrilled me!
“we do not like using plastic bags, don’t think people should so we started making cloth bags and selling it to people for Rs. 20. many buy it and they realise then that it lasts and they don’t need another bag. we also sell sturdy plastic bags if anyone wants.” why isn’t mumbai so wise i wonder?
in the clothing stalls there were plastic half-mannequins. where from, i asked.
“all the way from mumbai…” he guards them close to his heart, “it’s not easy to replace…but they break… often…”
“and you, where are you from?”
he travels from village to village and sets up stalls for the day. every village in this area has a village haat on a different day so he is always on the move… a nomadic existence? i wondered about his family; if he had any. didn’t think it right to ask, so turned away and moved to the next shop.