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Durable Link to this BlogFriday, June 27, 2008

Market day at Dharwad

Mrs. Kamala Dongerkery (1909-1992) was a connoisseur of fine arts, music and literature. She was married at a tender age of 9 years to Prof. Sunder. N. Dongerkery a distinguished educationist who later rose to become Vice Chancellor and Rector. Kamala was a self taught and widely traveled person. She wrote books on Indian embroidery, toys and sarees. In her autobiography, "On the wings of time" (Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Bombay 1968), she gives vivid description of childhood memories and vignettes of her life of varied interests.

Here is her description of weekly shanty( Sante) or Market day at Dharwad town, which almost continued in the same way till about 40 years ago.

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Tuesday was important in Dharwad. From early morning cartloads of village produce trickled into the town. There was a great deal of excitement all round. The schools, officers and courts were scheduled for the morning hours. The women in the houses worked out their weekly requirements. The butter-woman came to the door with black earthen pots full of butter. To keep it cool she spread castor leaves over the butter before covering it with an earthen lid. She spread a buttery aroma about her. Even her clothes and hair smelt of fresh butter. She took out balls of butter from the pots and weighed them with care, as if they were gold, spreading them over the same castor leaves. She thus saved a little butter over the weight of the leaves.

The quiet lanes of the bazaar were soon transformed into department stores, where you could buy anything from a buffalo to a biscuit, fresh vegetable, seasonal fruit, grain and groceries and what not. The cattle market was an interesting sight. Hefty buffaloes, jealous of their offspring, with sweet, day-old slimy calves, well-built cows with loaded udders chewing the cud on end, some alert, others unmindful of the bargaining, or the prospect of changing owners, and yet others lost in reverie only to be awakened by a flitting fly which they would sweep off in a moment with a swish of their tails.

At dusk the village women turned homewards, tilting their baskets on their heads to balance their gait, with loads of weekly requirements, or with a few jingling rupees enfolded in a cloth wallet tucked firmly in one of the cups of their kubsa (blouse), or tied in a knot at their waists, to carry them through the week. As they hurried home the frills of their saris swayed to and fro on their left ankle, and they poured forth to their companions homely tales of love, adventure of woe. Occasionally, one could hear the smack of their lips over a jilebi bought at the santi or weekly bazar. As evening drew near, the stragglers converged into convoys, keeping pace with the bullock-carts that lazily wended their way home by the flickering lights of hurricane lamps suspended to the chassis.

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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