Outside of the market in Mysore is a large Victorian canopied plinth, the sort one would expect to see containing a statue of royalty. Apparently it never received one but it stands today as yet another reminder of the British. Inside the market, irrespective of the architecture, it is very clearly India. Here the kaleidoscope of colours, the bombardment of scents and aromas and visual delight of the array of products provides a feast for even the dullest of senses. The pyramids of dyes are the first thing I see and it is easy to understand why anyone who has been to India takes a picture of these. To British eyes they are unusual, bright, some in shades not readily described - and the first stop to buy some for a granddaughter.
We had not been long in the market when we were approached by a couple of street traders. Many a first-time visitor may think that every purchase, every transaction has to be made by haggling. This is not our experience. In fact the need to haggle for a purchase never arose. In many shops prices are listed and if you wish to get it cheaper then feel free to try - but remember that haggling for a rupee or two off the price may sound fun for you as it is only a penny or so, but for many Indians, that amount can make quite a difference. Shops and market traders generally have fixed prices; however, the street traders are a different matter. We had already talked about buying a gift for one daughter and one of these traders happen to have just the thing. His comrade, however, was not so lucky. He had some flutes to sell and even demonstrated their worthiness with a quick tune. I declined the offer of being allowed to buy one even though the price was a reasonable 100 rupees each. My main thought was what am I going to do with one? I smiled and he smiled and so we went on our way - though it became clear quite quickly that our party of three had grown to four. As we walked and talked the price of the flutes slowly came down.
The covered alleyways all have their own delights and surprises and many are devoted to just one product. The bananas sellers, in their own specialist passage, have stalls with a raised dais on which are displayed the fruit, with more, decorously laid out, on the floor in front. Under the raised dais is what could be described as a cellar where the unripe bananas are stored, sealed in, and smoked to induce ripening http://vikaspedia.in/agriculture/post-harvest-technologies/technologies-for-agri-horti-crops/technologies-for-ripening-fruits. Vegetables and fruit are in abundance. Many stalls sell only one or two items but there was plenty of garlic, onion, root ginger, beans, peas, okra, yams and aubergines. The list is endless.
In between admiring the fruit and sampling the bananas, our flute seller continued his sales patter. By the time we reached the end of the market tour, I was still adamant I did not want to buy one. As a last ditch attempt he offered me two for the price of one - which had now come down to 50 rupees. This was even more difficult. I did not want to appear churlish but if I did not know what I would do with one flute, what would I do with two? I stuck to my resolve as obstinately as he stuck to his. We parted on good terms and in good humour - as had the whole proceedings been conducted. By the time we left it had become more of a joke than a sale.
That evening Pasha took us to see the palace http://www.inmysore.com/mysore-palace in Mysore lit up. This wonderful building was defined against the night sky by the light from over 98000 light bulbs, and in the warm Sunday evening air people from all over gather together to enjoy the spectacle. Families play with light balls, throwing them in the air and trying to catch them before they roll away under hundreds of feet; young lovers stand with their back to the palace, mobile phone at arms length for that all important selfie, and all of us just rejoice in the brilliance all around us. On our way back the car, a man comes up to me and asks if I remember him. Of course I do. I had met him in the market in the morning - and I still don't want to buy any flutes. We both laugh about it. He walks with us to the car. I get in and wind the window down to say goodbye to him. As Pasha pulls off, the trader’s hand shoots through the window with three flutes offering the job lot for 20 rupees. I still decline. What would I do with three? He pulls his arm out of the car, laughs and waves goodbye.
To see more photographs of Mysore Market and Palace click here. https://flic.kr/s/aHskod95GG