Nostalgia is such a powerful sentiment. Whenever anything has that “familiar” Kolkata touch, it instantly touches a chord in me. One such incident happened when I visited Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market.
Love at First Sight
This market is one of the historical and traditional landmarks of Seattle. It is one of those places that defines the city’s busy and multi-cultural lifestyle. As we reached the market place, I saw old red-bricked buildings by the sea side. From a distance, they looked serene and quiet. But as we parked our car and started walking, we were astounded by the number of people there. It was, in all its glory, a rumbling farmer’s market!.
There are many entrances to the original market, and over the years, it has extended to the other side of the street. . Almost every other shop was an eatery. The shops had cuisines from across the globe. German sausages, Russian puff pastry, Mexican burritos, Thai curry, Persian pilaf, Italian pasta, and American fish and chips! We had reached there around lunch time, and all the shops had people lining up outside the restaurant doors. Now, that did remind me of Durga Puja shopping experience!
Within the Public Market building, there were shops by local farmers and artists. There were beautiful items on display – hand knitted scarves and shawls, ink paintings, rock art, paintings, flower arrangements, fresh vegetables (with samples for a free tasting!).
One of the shops that intrigued me was a magic shop! It was straight out of an absurdist novel, and the door sign, with a set of roving eyes, made it an entertaining place to stop and look around.
The other side of the market was seafood! There was one shop of singing shopkeepers, who threw fishes that were being ordered across the counter, all the while singing in rhythm. There were people all around them clapping and taking pictures.
Further down the overcrowded market aisle, stood postcard shops, and cute stalls selling key chains and other such trinkets. In that area, we found uninterested shopkeepers reading magazines, or newspapers. They seemed to have been forced to share space with their products, and were completely zoned out from, the otherwise buzzing, marketplace.
After roaming up and down the street about three times, we finally found a small café where we could sit and eat (it was way past lunch time by then). The food, the apple cider, and the view was worth remembering! The window overlooked the sea and amidst the endearing chaos, it provided a soothing balm to the eyes.
I have grown up in a city where haggling with a shopkeeper over a simple item was nothing uncommon. My favorite marketplace displayed wares from the world in quaint, unassuming shops. Markets of my childhood did not need bright lights or ambience. I stumbled upon that comforting world unexpectedly in a corner of a cosmopolitan city, in a different world. Amidst stacked cartons of Italian lace, Arabian attar in claustrophobic narrow aisles, I came to a bakery selling global items like scones and puff pastries. The shabby music shop had records from all over the world, and the old bookstores boasted Russian literature.
Away from the glitz of all-consuming shopping malls, amidst chipping wall paints, wet floors, and fishy smells, I re-discovered the marketplace of home!
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