I got up at the crack of dawn to hit the wholesale flower, fruit & veg vendors at City Market (aka Krishna Rajendra Market or KR Market), which is adjacent to Jumma Masjid, the oldest mosque in Bangalore. Today is Eid, the end of Ramzan (aka Ramadan), so shopping in the shadow of the mosque seemed fitting.
Jumma Masjid was built around 1790. It is lovely from the outside, but alas I will never see the interior: women and infidels (non-Muslims) are not allowed inside. Even Muslim women are forbidden to enter; they are expected to pray at home. I am told this is typical of mosques in Bangalore and pretty common throughout India. However, I’ve toured Jama Masjid in Delhi -the biggest mosque in India- so I am confused about the precise rules.
The market & mosque are located in Bangalore’s oldest neighbourhood. There are narrow ally ways, too small to accommodate cars. Even at 6am, parking is an issue – expect a walk, thru narrow (but paved!) streets/sidewalks muddied with crushed flower petals, stems and other detritus from fruits & veg. To best navigate the crowds and tight roads, most wholesale purchases are transported by coolie. (Back off PC police, that is the job title.) Coolies seem to always be men. They often wear turbans, which serve the practical purpose of keeping their loads steady on their heads. Most loads are carried on top of the head; however, some are draped over the shoulders which caused the coolie to walk like a hunchback. The vast majority work barefoot and wear dhoti (short, wrapped man-“skirt”), but some wear flip-flops and shorts or cuffed pants. Here are some examples:
There are specific markets on the streets that surround the City Market structure. Generally, you get large quantities of things (several kilos worth) or raw materials in the street, and you find smaller household quantities or finished goods inside the building.
While we were in the vicinity, we checked out the other areas in the neighbourhood — bookseller streets, sari and silk streets, etc. These stores open during typical shop hours, so we were too early to shop. But this is the only time of day we could drive around the narrow streets.
By now we were in need of coffee. Off to the “Avenue Road” (I love the redundancy!), where there is a popular coffee shop – in a bus!
Eid Mubarak = have a blessed holiday!