Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
For over a decade I have been exposed to the concept of auctions. I have bought and sold several dozen things at online auctions and have enjoyed he thrill of the frenzied bidding and the energy in the final moments. My exposure is limited to online auctions and even that has me addicted.
But this time I saw a LIVE auction. A real market. Real people. Real Bidding. Real frenzy. And real goods! I did not understand the language of bidding but I understood the frenzy. I watched dumbfounded and enthralled at my first ever real life auction. At the town market in Bhubaneshwar. An auction of VEGETABLES! And it had such a grip on me, I might easily have let go of my self-control and bid on a basket full of caulifflowers or pumpkins!!
I was strolling through the market looking, listening, experiencing when I arrived at a section that was the trading spot for vegetables that had just arrived into the city. This area was surrounded by yet-to-be-unloaded trucks and walls made out of stacks of colorful crates.
As a child I was taken by my grandma almost every evening to the vegetable market to pick out and buy fresh vegetables and groceries from the market near our home. Watching her pick out good ones, watching her reject the spoilt or overripe ones, and watching her negotiate, I learnt a lot about this aspect of life. For me it was a chore to help her carry the bags – but for her it was a chance to socialise with the other ladies who had come out to make their purchases. I went along with the hope of a small treat – or with the hope of influencing her purchase of getting me some cream biscuits or toffees…. but I had no idea that I was also being taught things about worldly duties. I got to know the names and qualities of all the vegetables on sale – some that our community ate, others that we did not. But in spite of those trips, some of the vegetables I encountered in the Bhubaneshwar market were alien to me!
Organic living? Towns in India are still living in a past that WAS already organic.
Stacks of plates made out of dried leaves are seen on sale here. In the modern world, disposable plastic plates have taken their place. These leaf-plates are (obviously) biodegradable and nature-friendly. And surprisingly in these places as they are cheaper than plastic.
It is a common practice to begin the business day with a small worship service – with an arti, a lamp and agarbatti incense. Sometimes the worship performed is in honor of ancestors alongside Gods and often large framed photos decorated with flower garlands of late parents are seen on the walls of a home or shop. Fresh garlands are delivered by the local flower vendor early in the morning to facilitate early worship.
Plastic woven sacks have replaced the eco-friendly jute sacks about 20 years ago. These have a very long life and are therefore more economical. We talk of recycling in the modern world. In the rural world and in the world of my childhood, the cycle itself was really long. For instance an oil can when empty would be used to store rice and other grains. When it got too old and developed holes we had service providers who would come home to solder these holes. So our itchen was filled with tins of ‘Dalda’ or ‘Postman’ oils – which contain kitchen items. When the tin became too old and spoilt to be used for this, it moved down to a less premium spot – and was used as a flower pot or holder of coins. The cycle just went on and on. And when we were absolutely finished with it, we sold it to a ‘dabba-baatli-wala’ who paid us a few rupees for all the metal junk we were willing to sell him. He would in turn sell it to metal junk traders and his household economy ran on this earning. And it is only after this stage that the metal went on to be sold as scrap metal and entered the “recycling’ stage.
The manual laborer who will be paid about 6 dollar for transporting these boxes for 6 hours.
A rat who was unfortunate
The various types of rice being sold by a vendor who is busy watching a video on his phone
Crowns on sale for weddings and other celebrations
Roots & herbs that have specialised uses
Most may not recognise these ….
This is an extension of the recycling story … when slippers break it is usually the rubber band above the foot that gives way. SO instead of throwing the slipper away, it can be given a second life by changing the straps. This is a roadside sale of slipper straps. The man selling it sits by this sheet all day and his family is supported by this economic activity that he engages in.
And finally an interesting idea since weighing scales are a household item only in the homes of the rich in India….. here for Rs. 2 you can weigh yourself once !