Visiting A Bazaar In Chennai

Before leaving Chennai, I was informed that I must visit a bazaar to get a feel for the activity and energy there.  That was excellent advice.

Sturgis Rally Hogs
We drove to an area of what seemed to be thousands of street-side shops.  I'm reaching for an image that adequately describes the immense, dense activity in the bazaar, but the only image that comes to mind is the Sturgis Rally which is admittedly not exactly like the
Bikes in a Bazaar in Chennai
bazaar in Chennai.

For one thing, Sturgis, South Dakota is not nearly as densely populated as Chennai (although during the week of the Sturgis Rally it gets close).  For another, I didn't see any biker babes on the streets of Chennai (sorry, a woman in a sari riding a scooter just isn't the same as a woman riding on the back of a Harley, her skin turning to leather.  Oh, and the Sturgis Rally only lasts for a week; the bazaar I visited in Chennai is non-stop.

One more difference: I don't think you'll find Harry Potter stainless steel pots at the Sturgis Rally, but they'll set you back for just under three bucks in Chennai.


Anyway.

Tara showed me around and I'm glad I had her as a guide.  Most of the time here I've been the one who's been given the royal carpet treatment by people serving us, but at the bazaar, merchants were calling out to her, not me: "Madam, Madam!" they'd say, pointing out merchandise that they clearly thought she absolutely needed to have.  I have a natural fear of salespeople accosting me, so it was comforting to feel almost invisible at the bazaar.

I was amazed by all the activity, product, and people.  Here's a photo of the most densely populated part of the bazaar that we saw, which was on a corner that had fresh sugar cane being pressed for juice, and an ice cream stand.

Afterward, Tara was laughing at me (she did this a lot during my stay here, which I'm not entirely sure makes her a gracious host but maybe I'm missing a cultural nuance that nobody has cared to explain to me, as in "Did you know that when Indians laugh at you, it's really a compliment?").  Why was Tara laughing at me?  Well, here is her impression of me over the three hours we were at the bazaar:

"Wow.  Wow.  [pause] Wowwww."

I have to admit, that's a pretty accurate impression of me.  I couldn't say a whole lot else.

Comments:

WOW! what a crush! Wow!

Posted by Elaine Drapeau on February 22, 2005 at 12:16 PM PST #

When Indian women do not know what to say - they laugh! I am serious, its a cultural thing! I am an Indian living abroad and it irritates me now so I can guess how you must have felt.

Posted by Rajgopal Ramani on February 23, 2005 at 12:14 AM PST #

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