Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Mapusa - The Great Indian Bazar

When in Goa, if you want to experience the common man's supermarket, head to Mapusa
(pronounced 'mapsa'), a bustling little town about 13 km from Goa's capital, Panjim.

Mapusa Market is an open square enclosed on all sides by permanent shops which are open almost all-week. These shops comprise the usual medical stores, grocers, mobile phone outlets, wine shops and bakeries. You can pick up Goan desserts like Bebinca and Dodol as well as the local tipple, Feni in these shops. There is also the occasional shop selling tourist souvenirs, sometimes with illustrations by Mario Miranda, Goa's celebrated cartoonist.

The real action at Mapusa Market is in the central open space. Rows of vendors set up shop on Friday mornings, arranging their wares on make-shift tables or simply, spreading them out on tarpaulin sheets on the ground. Some have beach umbrellas to protect fresh produce and some use hand-held umbrellas to shield themselves from the intense Goan sun even as they noisily draw attention to their wares. Customers pour in from neighbouring villages and towns to stock up on fresh produce and replenish stocks of household essentials, a feat managed with much haggling and a tight budget.

The space is a happy chaos of practical and kitsch. There are Terracotta items like pots for storing water as well as decorative friezes. Denim Jeans and T-Shirts. Vegetables ranging from gourds to greens to coriander. Stainless steel utensils. Undergarments. Hand-embroidered bedspreads for the tourists. There is also the occasional flea-market spread of antique coins, paintings on cloth, ceramic wine containers, trinkets, sometimes even an evidently modern magnifying lens! And yes, there are also vendors who try to maximize their sales by moving about, like this one selling little girls' frocks in '60's inspired floral patterns stacked on hangers.

It is an indescribable treat for the senses when one passes by spice stalls with their neat mounds of condiments like cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise and bay leaf as well as turmeric powder and chilly powder. You will also find the ubiquitous coconut and purple masses of sour Kokum fruit, both requisite cooking ingredients in the Konkan region.

One area of Mapusa Market is demarcated for dried fish, shrimp, and Bombay Duck that's actually a fish! Goa's local sausage, called Chourico is also sold here, as is meat and poultry.

Share-autos and buses will ferry you at a nominal cost between Panjim bus stand and Mapusa Market on Fridays. It is also possible to hire a taxi for a half-day trip to Mapusa but do work out with the driver how to find the taxi again after your visit, as the place is badly traffic-congested on market day.The market pretty much comes to a standstill in the afternoon as Goans take their siesta rather seriously.

While most tourists hang out at the Anjuna Wednesday Flea Market, Mapusa is the Indian bazaar experience waiting to be discovered.

(An edited version was published in the July 2008 issue of 'At A Glance'. Pictures by author.)


om said...

Wow! That was an awesome place! I've been to Anjuna beach a decade ago. Now I hear the most happening market is Arooba Market (or some such name).
Shall chk out Mapusa if I ever go to Goa!

Anonymous said...

had been there myself-2 yrs back. ur description is almost picture perfect! I could almost hear the noise and relived the moment again!

Saritha said...

Yes, the noise at Mapusa! It was so comforting to go back to it after almost 6 years, and this time, to write about it!