Pulse rushing, palms sweating, mind swimming, floods of excitement flowing through my body. Prepping myself for the scavenger hunt to find the hidden treasures just waiting to be bargained for. Not even the crowds could stand in my way today.
The marketplace was an experience that no one could have prepared us for. In front of us lay narrow roads, bright colors, and vast quantities of items, with endless ways to acquire them. My favorite way to purchase said items is, of course, bargaining. It is satisfying to debate the price of a bag that you may or may not even need, and finally settle on a price that both parties can agree on. Once everything is stowed away in packaging, all that is left to do is throw yourself back into the streets, with a newfound skip in your step, to find the next thing on your list.
Despite my natural tendency to keep my head down, I couldn’t take my eyes away from the colorful displays of clothing, bags, and jewelry hanging from the rooftops. There was so much happening, so quickly, that it took all I had in me not to stop in the middle of the street and just observe everything for the rest of the night. It was like watching a big dance number in a play; so many things are happening on stage that you feel like if you don’t stay alert and keep your head moving you will miss all the important things.
At the end of the day, I laid out my purchases on my bed to just admire them and luxuriate in the memory of the effort it took to acquire all of them. I updated my shopping list and went to bed with the tiredness that only shopping can give you, and slept with a smile on my face.
I went looking for gods in the marketplace. On blistered feet, under blistering sun, I searched the streets. As clouds of smoke, scented oils, and the smell of fried snacks filled my nose, my personal space was lost to the crowd. All of the beautiful people converged in one lane, sharing pavement with bikes, and cars, and dogs. Women in eye-searing pink and watery blue, paraded out of the dust, carrying bags of food and holding the hands of children. I had to watch my step to avoid cracks filled with soiled water, and blankets laden with fruit. Each merchant sold his wares with a loud voice, coaxing foreigners into the palaces of bangles, bejeweled with glass, mirrors, and paint. It took three tries to find ones that fit my hands; my, not too large, but larger than most, hands. In America the vendors in tourist markets sell sweatshirts; in India they sell kurtas, key-chains, anklets, potato chips, pakoras, bobble heads, and statues. I went looking for gods in the market, and I found them everywhere. On the front of every post card and on the face of every figurine. No pop-star paraphernalia here. It is a place so different from our secular Safeways and brown bag lunches. I went looking for gods in the market, but the gods found me first.