28 March 2013

Market lady

When I first moved to Bangalore over 6 years ago, there were supermarkets opening all over the place. I had wondered in this post what would happen to the neighbourhood markets and walking vegetable vendors. Would they lose their business to these big chains?

I have the impression that markets are still thriving and that many people still go to markets because they know the vendors and because they have the opportunity to bargain.

The same vendors still walk up and down my street several times a day with their pushcarts full of vegetables and many of my neighbours buy from them because they conveniently stop at their door and because they’ve been buying from them for years. A friend pointed out that if she ever needs some special vegetable she can always ask her regular vendor to pick it up for her and he’ll be sure to deliver it to her door the next day. You can’t beat that for convenience.

Last time it was the ‘puncher man’ I had featured in a previous post inspired by The Hindu’s “I am” column. Today I take a glimpse into the life of a market vendor, again courtesy of The Hindu.

The column by Deepa Ganesh tells the story of Lakshmamma, who’s been selling fruits and vegetables for the past 40 years at different markets across Bangalore. She works for almost 16 hours a day, leaving home at 4am to go to the wholesale market at Yelahanka. She then travels with the bags of vegetables she’s bought by bus, not an easy task, all the way to the Income Tax Office where she sells her produce on the pavement. She gets home only after 8:30pm. In the article she also gives some interesting observations on the city and how it’s changed over the years. You can read the column here.

Meet some of the market ladies of Bangalore:

20 March 2013

Lepakshi temple

While Chantal was here we did a few road trips. We both love ancient temples so of course we had to go to Belur, Halebid and Sravanabelagola. We managed to squeeze them all in in one day.

The next trip was to Lepakshi, which is just over the border in Andhra Pradesh. Lepakshi has been on my ‘list’ for a while. It’s an important pilgrimage place because of its magnificent Veerabhadra temple.

We took the Bangalore-Hyderabad highway which must be the best highway I’ve taken in India. The road was in excellent condition, there was no traffic, and the scenery was beautiful. There was even a Kamat restaurant on the way where we could stop to have ragi dosas – a favourite with both of us. We reached Lepakshi quickly.

The Veerabhadra temple is perched on a rocky outcrop and was built in the 16th century during the Vijayanagar empire.

The pillared halls are covered with intricate sculptures of deities, dancers, musicians and animals.

One thing which is unique about this temples is the beautiful fresco paintings in vibrant colours which adorn the ceiling of the kalyan mantapa. This one depicts the marriage of Shiva and Parvati.

Take a walk through Veerabhadra temple…

14 March 2013


This is an Indian expression I love which is unique to India.

Timepass is ‘passing the time’. Or it can refer to an activity that’s used to ‘pass the time’.

A few months ago, I was on the train in Andhra Pradesh travelling from Visakhapatnam to the Araku Valley. A newspaper vendor was passing through the car. Instead of calling out ‘newspaper’ to attract potential buyers, he said: ‘Timepass!’.

Reading the newspaper is an example of ‘timepass’. Other popular timepass activities are watching TV, eating or sleeping.

Timepass can also be used to refer to a hobby, one which helps pass the time.

Samosapedia defines timepass like this:

“Wasting or whiling away time. Transliteration possibly of Kannada phrase "Kaala kaleyavudu" meaning "losing time," which has the same meaning. Also means doing something for leisure but with no intention of accomplishing anything.”

Timepass seems to be a fine art!

04 March 2013

Puncher shops

Walk down any street in Bangalore and you’re sure to come across a ‘puncher shop’. This may be an actual small shop or just a dedicated space on the sidewalk. Instead of someone wearing boxing gloves, you’ll find a man repairing bicycle tires. For some reason, ‘puncture’ is systematically misspelt; that’s just one of the quirky quirks of India.

Cars, trucks, scooters, motorcycles, bicycles, pushcarts all have rubber tires which get invariably punctured at some point or other. The ‘puncher shops’ provide a handy roadside service, anywhere, and almost anytime.

The Hindu has an interesting weekly column called “I am” which features “men and women who make Bangalore what it is.” I enjoy reading these little personal vignettes about ordinary people doing ordinary jobs like vegetable vendor, paper collector, brick maker and yes, puncture repairer.

Recently the column featured T. Balasubramanyam, a puncture repairer with his own shop in Malleswaram. He reveals a few details about his daily job. He keeps busy from morning to night, repairing up to 20 flat tires a day. You can read more about him and what goes on in a ‘puncher shop’ here.