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Song of the Road

Memories of Childhood, Weekly Market

Weekly markets are a very important part of local life. Each village or a town has these weekly markets on a fixed day. Not only vegetables and fruits but so many other things are available and at a cheaper rate than what is available in the retail shops.  My father writes about his experiences in the weekly market in the small town where he grew up. This was sometime in the 1940s.  He writes,

“ Every Sunday in Hospet, was the weekly market locally
known as ‘Santhe’ in Kannada. Vegetables and fruits grown in the neighbourhood were there for sale.  Also for sale were
meat and  other eatables, like Mandaralu (puffed rice),
Avalakki (beaten rice). Santhe was held on a large ground
not far from our house.  This ground has now been converted into the city bus stand and the santhe shifted elsewhere.There were no shops in Hospet then. Vendors crrying  vegetables on their heads in bamboo baskets  and visiting houses were the only other source for these.

When I was young,  my father used to call me on Sunday
afternoons, give me a one-rupee coin and tell  me to go to the market.  One rupee was big money then.  I carried two cotton bags and walked to the santhe.  I first walked on our
side of the street.  After some distance came an
Advocate’s house.  There was an old woman in that house.
We were told that a “Bhootha” (demon) was in control of
this woman.  So, I avoided walking by the side of the house
and crossed over to the other side.  Hospet was a Taluk and
Government Taluk offices were housed in a large compound
there. After this, another road crossed our road and a large
circle was formed and in its centre was the ‘Rajana Kamba’
or Rajah’s  pillar where the statue of the head of
King George V was placed.  After that was our teacher, Lakshmana Rao’s house.  The road leading to the santhe was not very far.

The vendors sat on the ground placing their vegetable
baskets around them, holding in their hands a small balance
for weighing and a measuring vessel and waited for the
buyers.  The vegetables were mainly Brinjals, cucumber,
beans, lady’s fingers, ash gourd. They had not heard of
Cabbage, Cauliflower, and the like.  These  had not yet
arrived in the rural areas.  Most vegetables cost about
2 annas a pound (lb) or a seer.  That is about 5 annas or
about 0.3 rupees a kg !! Yesterday, I paid Rs. 20/- for a
kg of Badane (brinjal) i.e. about 67 times!!  I knew most
of the vendors by their faces.

At the end of the ground were two large tiled sheds.
In one of them meat was sold.  Fruits and other eatables were sold in the other.  I was not interested in these.  After
these, there was a small open ground in which puffed rice), kept  in large jute bags (3 ft. in diameter and 4 ft. height !) was
sold.  From puffed rice  delicious ‘sweet balls’ were made by adding jaggery.
My mouth watered thinking about this. How could I not buy them?
One rupee was finished now and then I returned home.”

santhe maadi1

( The small photos are from the internet)