A Life of its Own

The story of Ooty’s Municipal Market

“I last saw you when you were a kid,” called out a meat vendor to my mother, who had moved out of the Nilgiris 35 years ago. “I used to visit your dad’s store often in Lower Bazaar”, he said, to jog her memory.

He had a shop in Ooty’s Municipal Market and obviously was good with faces. As I explored the market, I realized that most of the shopkeepers have a cheery greeting for anyone who passes them.

The market is 150 years old and wears its age with a certain charm. There are 15 different entrances one can use to enter the market and there are easily 2000 shops within its compound. Everything from meat and vegetables to fruits and flowers, are sold here.

Ooty’s Municipal market throws opens its arms to everyone. And it immediately envelops you with its friendly chatter and happy sights and sounds.

“Baby Ma,” Velusamy Thaatha (Grandfather) calls out to me every time I pass by his shop and I stop to have a chat with him. I suspect he does that with each and everyone else who passes by.
There is a Mariamman temple, not too far and all that you need for a pooja is available at the market. “It reminds me of the the streets leading to the Kapaleeshwarar temple in Chennai”, a friend said.
Imran anna (older brother) mans a vegetable and pooja items shop. He saw me clicking pictures of a nearby shop and invited me into his for a quick snap.
Anandhi akka (elder sister) sells mint, coriander, spinach, curry leaves, and many unfamiliar (to me) varieties of greens. She always has a ready smile on her face. She said she brought luck to people and so I should take her photograph every time I visit the market.
3,2,1, CLICK” my friend shouted as I waited in the alley to capture this moment.
As the market winds down after a long busy day, small fires here and there invite cold hands to come and warm themselves.

This story was done as part of the travel photography module by Shruthi Vaishali of Light & Life Academy Batch 22.

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