and kitchen markets
a person who believes that shopping is almost like a therapy, the
mere sight of 'stuff' is a big turn on. It doesn't matter
whether the 'stuff' in sight is fresh spinach being cut from their
beds or shining light green turnips piled at any corner on the vegetable
cart or a bottle of Happy on a perfume rack in one of those super
stores, the effect is always the same. Many might not see the link
between turnips and perfumes but for a shopaholic the attraction is
as strong and temptations are always hard to resist, no matter what,
you fall prey to it.
speaking I am always a victim of such lures. I can't think straight
and feel extremely giddy when I pass vendors literally throwing quacking
ducks on my face or when I pass by malls that I know showcase my 'kinda
stuff', I go into a trance.
of my friends complain that I even fail to notice them or recognize
acquaintances under such 'shopping situations'. I am not
sure whether they are making up stories but I never contradict them
cause I know the adrenaline rush I face when I simply think shopping,
talking or writing about it gives an equal high.
is the vegetable season and kitchen markets all over the town are
in festive moods and during such times it's almost a sin to have lunch
or dinner without a bowl of salad. Red beets, light green cucumbers,
white radishes, dark green capsicums, spring onions, bright orange
carrots; try to imagine the riot of colours and see how gorgeous it
Let's talk about
kitchen markets. These are my personal favourites because of the rich
display of colours and combinations. It's a pleasure to see dark purple
aubergines in line with rich green okras topped off with almost white
and green cauliflowers or red and green tomatoes together in a basket.
Gulshan I kitchen
market has an excellent array of herbs, shrubs and other so absolutely
necessary stuff. Of course the superstores offer the same items and
more imported ones too, but a local kitchen market beats them all.
Specially this one which has vendors speaking fluent English and where
you get everything from tofu to cuttle fish to thyme to celery and
even the patties of spring rolls. Smiling sellers, good customer service
sense and great buys makes this kitchen market among the top.
bazaar early in the morning around 5 to 6 a.m. or dead at night say
around 12 or 1 a.m. is an amazing place, trucks unloading all sorts
of produce from the villages, the lanes are clogged with fresh vegetables
and fish. It is very difficult to squeeze in and buy at the middle
of the night and then nothing sells less than five kilos, but it's
the best place to go to if you plan to do the weekly grocery shopping,
bring in a friend or two so that you can split the budget. Early in
the morning fishes are an excellent buy in this market, all fresh
and cheap, seasonal vegetable too sells cheap at that time of the
have to be a morning person, or else the charms and thrills of Karwan
Bazaar are no different than that of other city kitchen markets. By
9 am the entire area transforms back to the regular Karwan Bazaar
that we normally get to see.
New Market kitchen
market is also a good haunt and needless to say cheap as well.
Markets in the
suburbs and outskirts of the city are fine places too. Uttara's sector
10 boasts a wonderful makeshift fish market that lasts for few hours;
from the break of the day till maximum 7:30 am, this corner plot is
bursting with activity. Villagers bring in their catch from nearby
rivers and lakes and sell them at extremely reasonable prices. The
variety is not as great as at the markets but the catch is always
fresh. Baridhara DOHS also has a similar fish market near the lake.
These are area-based small open markets that finish business as soon
as the city wakes up.
the openings of superstores many of us stopped going to these places
mainly because of the nasty lanes overflowing with dark dirty water,
stinking odours, rotten vegetables stacked in a corner. Moreover for
working people its easier to drop at the superstores and get errands
done while sipping coffee but the charm of buying and haggling from
kitchen markets or visiting such small suburban haats remain
a different kind of fun altogether. Enjoy this year's winter.
Raffat Binte Rashid
Photo: Sharier Khan
hour in the
IT is 9am in a
Friday morning, Harun-ur-Rashid, a pension holder in his 60s with
a plastic bag in his hand is hurrying to the kaacha bazaar in his
neighbourhood. It is one chore he's been performing with enthusiasm
every morning since his retirement. The bazaar is already crammed
with housewives and pension holders like him competing to grab the
biggest fish, the freshest and juiciest of vegetables.
steps inside the bustling fish market. His regular "maach
wallah" Rahman greets him with a smile "Aijka boro
boro rui maach ase Sir, loiaa jaan", and with this greeting
note the every day episode of kitchen market begins.
We met Rashid and his maach wallah at a Mirpur section-2 kaacha bazaar.
Rahman, an expert in the art of haggling, was trying to convince his
customer about the good quality of his merchandise although its appearance
differed from his statement. Considering this writer as a potential
customer, Rahman beckons for a look at his rich stack.
started our little chat with the fish trader. A man in his mid 30's,
Rahman joined this business about 15 to 16 years ago. Everyday, early
in the morning he collects his stack from the wholesale market at
Karwan bazaar. Business continues till evening, with a short break
in the afternoon. If the entire stock is not sold, he stores it in
ice and sells it the next day.
Being an expert,
Rahman gave us a few tips about the fish market. "It is the earliest
hour" he says "that is good for getting the best buys".
"Always check the gills. If they are red then the fish is fresh.
But remember some dishonest sellers use colour in the gills to make
them appear fresh. Also press the fish gently with the fingertip.
It has to feel firm. You always have to be careful in the fish market,"
he advises. He also cautioned about buying fish stored in Formalin
"They give off a bad smell even after cooking," he informs.
Would it be better
if he were doing something else for a living, we asked Rahman, "Life
as a maach wallah is nothing much, but I believe it was meant for
me by the person up there", he answered. "I have regular
customers like him (pointing out at Rashid, who already bagged two
kilos) whose blessings keep me alive", Rahman stated.
Rashid went on
with his adventure in the kaacha bazar. He moved towards the vegetable
zone ignoring more maach wallahs. It is now time for the shabjiwallah
to try and persuade him to buy his goods, and the good man wastes
no time in doing so. He was praising his cauliflowers. Like Rahman,
his face belonged to that of a hardworking man.
the meanwhile, a middle-aged woman approached Rahman and asked about
the price of his product. He tried to win her over with his jingle
but this time his persuasion was not enough, as this woman knew all
about the tricks of the kitchen market trade. About his toughest customers
Rahman comments, "These Khalammas are the hardest ones
to please. They have eyes like eagles. They can scan the smallest
The episode at
the kitchen market continues with trifling events like these. It is
like a love-hate relationship between a maach wallah or shabjiwallah
and his customer. For us, life without people like Rahman and their
smiling faces would be incomplete.