Sunday, June 28, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Even before we went in, I realised I was going to see a big market, but as we kept driving along, I realised that this market was literally endless! Nothing had prepared me for the sheer scale of what I saw.
The agricultural produce market covers all of 170 acres (hah! and I had originally believed I could explore it on foot!). There are a staggering 3700 godowns, 1500 commercial blocks, 4 large auction halls, 2 giant warehouses, and 5 large wholesale market yards. Apart from this, there are big processing centres - a vapour heat treatment plant, ripening facilities, cold storage facilities, an export facilitation centre and so on.
To me, it was like seeing a vast new exciting trading town, where trucks trundled in with every conceivable type of agricultural produce from the country. I could see hundreds of farmers, in their white Gandhi-topis. There were many women too, in their traditional Maharashtrian sarees. There were literally thousands of workers, transporting bags of produce. It was only much later, when I saw the website of the market committee, that I discovered that this is Asia's largest regulated market for agricultural produce.
As we drove around, Satyen pointed out to me that there is not one market, but five different markets. Market I is dedicated to spices and condiments, sugar, jaggery and dry fruits. Market II is where trading in foodgrains (rice, wheat) and pulses takes place. Then there's the popular "kanda-batata markit" - The Onion and Potato Market, which was the earliest to be set up. Other than these, there are two more markets, the Fruit Market and the Vegetable Market. For a "city girl" like me, it was like getting a glimpse into an alien world.
After the first few minutes of driving around, I gave up trying to grasp it all, and just enjoyed the atmosphere of the place. At the vegetable and fruit markets, I couldn't resist getting out of the car and clicking a few photographs.
Mango crates amidst hay in the fruit market
This man had purchased two crates of mangoes, and paid someone to carry it to his truck. The 'hamaali' or labour rate per 'peti' (box) is Rs 2.5.
Mini-truck leaving the market
This smaller truck was loaded with gunny sacks of various vegetables, and was leaving the market to go into the city. The 'hamaali' for one gunny sack is Rs 5.
Mid-sized trader leaving with his stock
So I finally called it a day, and sank gratefully into the coolness of the airconditioned car. As I dropped Satyen back home, I said to him, "I'm coming back again to Vashi! There's so much still to see!"
Want to come with me?
Friday, June 12, 2009
It is Mother's Day today. The morning newspaper is full of pictures of celebrities proclaiming their mothers' role in their lives.
At the Oscar awards this year, A. R. Rahman, while accepting his award, declared that he owed it to his mother and to God. 'My mother is here with me today', he said joyously.
Whenever I hear these kind of things, I remember my mother. Although she is no more, I feel that my mother still lives with me every moment of my life, in my thoughts, words and deeds.
She was a workaholic who spent her entire life in the kitchen ungrudgingly, ever ready to offer a cup of coffee, a crisp dosa, or tasty home-made snacks, to whoever came into the house. But even as she did her chores, she passed on her moral, spiritual and ethical ideas to us children.
Unlike other ladies of her generation, she was neither orthodox nor religious. She never observed any fasts, nor was she a regular visitor to temples. On festival days she would take us to the temple, but for her, the home was her temple. She had a picture of God on a small wooden stand in the kitchen, where she would light a lamp in the evening. She would make us children say "Swamee, Nalla Buddhi Taranamey" (Lord, give us the power to discriminate between right and wrong).
She believed that a righteous life, performing ones duties towards family and society was all that was necessary to please God. She had tremendous control over her desires, whether it was food, sarees, jewellery or other comforts. She ate very simple food, and had a limited wardrobe, and minimal jewellery. She had the habit of saving, out of which she made a gold chain or a pair of bangles for my sister and me.
I have a long list of attributes for my mother - soft-soken, neatly dressed, lending a helping hand to the poor and needy, bravely facing odds...she had a detatched attachment, and an all embracing endearing look. She was not highly educated - her schooling stopped at standard eight, but she was a living example of sterling qualities.
Motherhood as I understood from her, is 'Practise what you preach.' Do what you expect your children to do. When your children watch you day in and day out, your qualities get passed on to them unconsciously.