Traveling to exotic locales doesn’t always have to be intent on grand adventures and meticulous planning. It can turn out to be just as fun if you focus on small happinesses and sudden highs, such as when you’re wandering around alleyways, streets and local markets in a new place.
Some of my happiest childhood memories are of going to the market, perched on my Dad’s shoulders, or clinging tightly to his big, protective hands with my little fingers. I remember countless childhood trips to various markets in Calcutta including, New Market, Gariahat bazar, Lake Market, et al. And, usually, this would involve me getting a taste of fresh food, a discourse on how to buy the right fish or sweet, and coming back in full glee with my little loot of goodies. Over time, this activity extended to shop for all kinds of other things. Though truth be told, and at the risk of sounding overtly materialistic, I think I was born with an innate talent for shopping. I can engage myself for hours, with or without company just ploughing through crowded markets, and, high street boutiques with equal fervor, and generally getting adrenaline rush of varying intensity.
Anyways, coming back to now, wherever I go traveling, I make it a point to find and visit at least one dense, or, rambling collection of small, and make-shift shops. They are often in the open air, bordering on the sidewalks, under the trees, along the beaches, in courtyards, and halls of old houses. And, most often than not, they are bustling with culture, history, food, fashion, art, music, and business, and you experience a side of the country, culture and people like you would never, if you limited yourself to the usual tourist route.
These bazars or local markets never fail to delight and engage me, be it at home or the world, at large. Here are some random pictorial memories from recent, and, not-so recent trips, where I have seen, learnt and connected with countries, local cultures, and customs, and, found treasures to ferry back home across miles with happy memories to last a lifetime.