Friday, July 25, 2014

Going To an Indian Market

A Walk to an Indian Market

Sari = a wrap around dress for women                                                aroma = smell
Bhaiya = older brother (Hindi)                                                            sniff = to smell
Rupees = Indian currency                                                                   offensive = not liked
Footpath = sidewalk                                                                           biodegradable = able to rot                                                                                                          

“Come on kids, grab a bag, we’re marching to the market.” Granny said as she stuffed some Rupees in her bag.                                                                                                                 Four-year-old Sapna complained, “This minute? Why? We just ate our breakfast!”  
Her eight-year-old, brother Sagar said, “Yep, if Granny says we go, we go. Don on your cotton clothes for the muggy and hot Pune.” 
“Okay, okay, got it Bhaiya, but why do we have to take our own bag? We don't carry bags at our home in the U.S.”
“’cause the Indian veggie-vendors don’t give us plastic  bags.”
Granny said, "Hey, children, wait and watch, even your US shops will stop giving the plastic bags. It just adds to the pollution."
Sagar said, "Granny, in California you have to take your own bags, it started some time back, and the rest of the country is following."
Sapana asked, "No more bags from the grocery store, then what will mom use for garbage?"
"She'll use the biodegradable bags."
"Oh, good. How about paper bags? They rot."
"Yep, my smart sis, paper bags work too."
Sagar and Sapna were visiting their grandparents in Pune, India. They changed their clothes, each picked up a cloth-bag, stepped out the bungalow and headed for the market with Granny. They waited on the footpath to cross the road.
ONE bullock cart filled with potatoes and onions, moved at a snail’s pace. Bells fastened around the oxen’s neck warned people to keep out of its path. A shiny sports-car trailed behind.
Sapna’s mouth fell open when she saw people weaving in and around a traffic of zigzagging bikes, motorbikes, rickshaws and cars.
“Bhaiya, wow! So many people!”                                                 
“Yep, India is the most populated country in the world, well, almost, we compete with China.”
“Oh.”  Sapna nodded and held her brother’s hand tight as they reached a busy square.                              
TWO lorries were going to the market with goods. Black coal filled the open one, and pieces
of hay stuck out from the other.
The trio covered their nose to escape the smoke-smell that spewed from the lorries. A sparkling black limousine crawled behind the trucks.                         
THREE buses, two red city buses and another smaller one plodded along as they waited with Granny in a queue at the bus stop.                                                                                               “What do the writings on the bus say?”
"It says, educate your children and keep your city clean.”
Sapna pointed to the pictures on the third one, “And that one’s about computers.” 
"Yeah, it takes people to their work.”  
The line from behind, nudged the trio ahead to get onto the bus. Sitting by the window, Sapna couldn’t separate the people’s chatter from the din of bicycle bells, car and truck horns, barking dogs and other sounds.                                                                                                               She pointed to FOUR boys with heavy bags swinging on their bicycles.  
“Where’re they all going dressed alike?” Sapna asked.                                                    
“To school.”
“Don’t they have any vacation?” 
“Sure they do, at a different time than us, because India's seasons don't happen at the same time as the US seasons.”
They got off at the market. She pulled Sagar's shirt and shouted, “Look!”
FIVE two-wheelers were parked along the sidewalk. Sagar read the names of the motorcycles: Vespa, Bajaj, Lambretta, Hero-Honda and Royal Enfield.
“I wish I could ride ’em.” 
“Dream on kiddo until you are older.” Sagar patted Sapna’s head. 
“Bhaiya, what's this smell?” Sapna wrinkled her nose.
“That’s the aroma of fresh fruits, vegetables and fresh flowers mixed with the smell of smoke, sweat along with the fish smell from the meat market nearby. Which whiff do you find offensive?”
“Yuck, all of them.  I can’t tell the fresh ones.” Sapna covered her nose with her shirt-sleeve.
Granny walked on ahead. The duo ran to catch up with her.

1: one: ek: एक: १           O

2: two: doe: दो: २           O O 

3: three: teen: तीन: ३      O O O

4: four: chaar: चार: ४      O O O O

5: five: panch: पांच: ५     O O O O O

© 2014, Meera Desai Shah

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