Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Haat in the Heart of the City- A Real Farmers' Market in Gurgaon

I was packing at the end of my holiday. Things were strewn all over the bed and my suitcase and rucksack were on the window-seat in my room. As I juggled clothes, packets of spices, a bunch of black carrots, and other miscellaneous bits of shopping, I happened to glance out of the window to the vast open ground across the busy road. I saw a temporary market coming up - tarps were being laid out, small pick up trucks and tempos were being unloaded, bright LED lights were being set up. I dug out the DSLR and zoomed in to have a look - the camera works very well as a binocular! It was a weekly bazaar - a haat. I couldn't wait to go check it out. If I could trudge across from Gurgaon to Khari Baoli in Old Delhi there was no way I wasn't going to hop across the road right here at home.

My cousin Atanu was happy to come along with me and we set off to take a look. I'd seen piles of cauliflower, carrots, onions, potatoes, and loads of fresh greens, and I was hoping to see some less familiar produce too.

The place was teeming with people - labourers, craftsmen, housemaids, rickshaw drivers, but no one from the many high rise towers that are just across the road. The sellers had set up their shops on the ground and there were piles of vegetables in front of them, just haphazardly placed. There was quite a cacophony of voices and we stood out like a pair of very sore thumbs! We went around 9pm and things were already dying down by then; the market started earlier in the evening around 6 o' clock. This is a weekly haat and seems to be quite a popular one because there were at least 30 to 40 vegetable sellers and a line up of snack sellers on one side catering to the crowd.

I ignored the snack stalls and jumped into the fray with the crowd, looking to see what vegetables were up for grabs. I was hoping I would find some more of those famous 'kaale gajar'. I'd bought a conservative 500gms at Khari Baoli and I yearned to buy more.Fingers crossed! At first glance it seemed like a sea of beautiful, juicy, red carrots, fresh white cauliflowers, and an array of glistening green leafy spinach, methi, mustard greens, etc.

As we wandered around among the vendors I saw huge beetroots, lotus stems, colocasia roots, little hillocks of green peas, and something called maati aloo which I have never seen before. I regret not buying any though I did take a photo.

There were huge flat 'papdi' beans, white turnips with a purple blush, mounds of garlic, onions, potatoes, cabbages, and many varieties of brinjal - one was big, round and purple, while another was like large green mottled eggs. And then my heart stopped - kaale gajar! There were just a few left - so I bought the lot.

We also came home with a bag full of tender finger-like red carrots, some arbi, a cauliflower, and some big fat gorgeously green papdi or 'seem' as we Bengalis call them.

There was too much frantic activity around so I couldn't ask much about the market but I can tell you it's in the field opposite Jalvayu Towers in Sector 56, Gurgaon. If you know the Tau Devi Lal Biodiversity Park, it's just behind. Follow the perimeter of the park and you will see the lights of the haat in the evening. The haat is on every Thursday in the evenings all through the year.

Ditch the air-conditoned aisles at Spencer's and come get your veggies from here next week. You'll find more at the haat. This is what a real farmers' market is, not those ones that are held on 5 star hotel grounds.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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