It is stretched out like an ancient fort, fading paints and broken walls. Yellow, blue and red sheets are raised above for shade and cover. People are buzzing and swarming around shops. I was greeted with the familiar stink of fresh rot and there were people howling at each other. ‘Yen beku sir?’ a guy in saggy red shirt asked. He was selling fruits and vegetables just outside the market. He smiled at me till I walked past him and entered the market. The slushy mud was sticking to my shoes like hot tar.
The garbage piled on the sides won’t bother you if you staple your nose but the flies that surround them will annoy you.
This floor of the complex is occupied by shops that sell rangoli colors, pooja items, those scary masks people put in front of their houses and kitchen items. The rangoli pile looked like colored anthills. And most shops had these cones of rangoli colors right outside. The crowd here is less compared to the crowd just outside and in the floor below. Some of the utensils are big enough to roast a fully grown human.
The utensils are pretty cheap compared to the outside retailers and the shopkeepers proudly told their customers this to avoid any sort of bargaining. I wonder how they pass time when there aren’t any customers. The shopkeepers don’t seem to shout or call out. They just sit at their shops and wait for someone to come. They are relaxed yet looking searchingly at nowhere in particular.
I walk towards one of my favorite places in the market complex. It’s an opening in the center of the second floor and you can see all the way up and down the market. And down below you will see the flower shops lined up. All bright and lively. Giant garlands of flowers coiled up like sleeping snakes, about a hundred people walking and talking, not knowing I’m watching them. The people look tiny. I take great pleasure in this little sight. And a picture from here is a must, no matter how many times I have come, no matter how many pictures I take, it will always remain special. The light fading on to the pavements from these tiny cells around the market which was lit by new age CFL and LED lights.
After relieving myself in the public toilet, I made my way to Savera tea stall, next to the big white mosque. You get crispy hot mutton samosas for 8 Rs. Faloodas and Roohafza for 25 Rs. Tea and coffee for 10 Rs each. There is also a bit of conspiracy theory regarding this place. The Hindu crowd rarely come here because they say that there is beef in the samosas. When I asked the owner in a playful manner, he denied. He brushed it off as a rumour – a ploy to make his business suffer. I had my mutton samosa and a glass of Roohafza. If my mutton samosa has beef, then I’m all the more happy, I thought to myself.
A little further, I found Hamara hotel. The prices were reasonable and I ordered a plate of mutton chops and a couple of parotas. The mutton curry looked lively. The parotas were bigger and thicker than I expected. As I started eating, water streamed down my eyes and nose. I began sweating and it was really cold in Bangalore. The waiter, a little concerned, approached me and asked if I was okay. I said I was fine and requested a bottle of cold water as they didn’t have any soft drinks apart from Fizz Jeera. I couldn’t finish the two parotas I ordered. I managed to finish the spicy mutton chops and my mouth waters every time I think about it.
I go to KR market now and then. Not to buy anything, just to observe and learn. There are a lot of things that I don’t understand, and I think one way of learning it is through experiencing something different from my daily routine. I like the people that I meet here. Some of them have these unique stories that the world doesn’t know. KR market will amaze you with its history and pamper you with its present. It is an economy with a culture and lifestyle of its own.
I want to explore more – dig deeper into the lives of people, into the roots of the largest wholesale market in Bangalore. It’s a way of liberating myself from the luxury of malls, air conditioned shops, and all this madness that surrounds the city.