Delayed by six months, but here at last, is the second collection of the Mapusa Market Repair and Recycle stories, belonging to a series of videos that Prashant and I have been making to highlight the repair points in Mapusa Market, where people fix your stuff to make it last longer. In this edition, we get to meet Nivrutti Palyekar, who can alter and fix your clothes for you, Pravin Narvekar, who runs the only shop in Mapusa where you can get your analog speedometer fixed, Ramu Bhomkar the raffu specialist who can darn a gaping hole in your garment to make it completely invisble, and Valenino Britto, the electrical repair man who fixes mixers, blenders and other kitchen appliances with the skill of an expert surgeon.

The videos have been collected into a playlist that plays them one after the other. Remember to switch on ‘Captions’ if you can’t see the English subtitles that are provided. (To play only a specific video, click on the Playlist button at the bottom of the player, and select the video you want from the list that will appear).

 

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The title reminds one of the hippie movement that started in the early 1960s, my experience with the mapusa market was quite similar to the nature of this movement as it involved me trying to be a part of the harmonious synthesis that the market is. “Flower” in the title makes it more than obvious that my centre of study was the flower market.

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The reason for choosing the same, were the many colours, and different potent smells, or to be more precise fragrances, and the people that were around them. The curiosity to know how these people like selling what other people consider as things of beauty, and also sometimes the perfect gift, help me make up my mind.

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 Another aspect that lured me to the flower market were the cobwebs that were hanging atop, a beautiful irony. I wanted to explore the opinions that the flower sellers have about them.

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Roaming around in the flower market for two consecutive days, attracted a lot of attention from both sellers and customers. Besides flowers being sold the flower market houses a number of other shops which sell Wines and Cashew, the market by lanes also comprise of tailors, and women selling coconuts, jaggery and other household items.

Talking to the flower sellers, I came to know that most of the women sellers have been a part of this market for a lifetime, in a sense that previously their mothers or sisters, or great grandmothers used to sit in the same spot that they now sit. Mind you, no one takes each other’s places they have been decided for a long time now. Some women have seen their family members in this activity for as long as 35-50 years!

Another amazing fact was that these women sell their flowers mostly in form of garlands, ‘gajras’, and never loose, barring the flower wholesalers who sell them loose in bulk.

The garlands depending on their size vary from being sold at INR 300 for the most extravagant, to as low as INR 20 for a humble gajra. The flowers on sale mostly include Asters(Shevanti-local name), Roses, Rajnigandha, Marigold, Bombay Lilies, Yellow Buttons, Amboli, and green leaves, and mind you every seller has a favourite and tries to sell it the most!

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The sale of flowers, according to the sellers, doesn’t depend much on the Market Day. Every day they have a set number of customers, but they notice a hike during festival days, especially during ‘zatra/jatra.’

The sellers, as far as the aspect of bargain is concerned, are more than comfortable with it. I was surprised to see how accommodative they were to bargaining. But the funny fact is that the same attitude changes on days of less customers, their moods, and sale to foreign tourists. Some of the sellers did candidly confess that they prefer selling their flowers to the locals than tourists. 

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On further questioning, the opinion on cobwebs came out. They were a bit hesitant to talk about them because they thought I had come from the Municipality’s side to ask them to clean them. If not all, most of them were of the opinion that it is the Municipality’s job to clean them up. Some agreed that they do clean them up, but only the ones that were around and above their spot. A very few of them were fascinated by the intricate designs hanging above their heads, most of them were disgusted, and surprisingly did nothing about it! It reminded me of a few of my college professors, although you hate them you have to co-exist…

The observations and conclusions for this project were provided by the numerous flower sellers sitting day-in-day-out, but I personally struck a chord with a few of them and would like to mention them in this project—

Minakshi was one of the first sellers I met and talked with. Her warmth attracted me straight away. She has been selling flowers for 30 years herself, and been in the flower selling business for as long as 50 years, from her mother’s side.

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She was quite insightful, she was one of those few who didn’t mind the cobwebs being there, and actually saw them as something beautiful but she also mentioned that they weren’t as beautiful as the flowers she sold(laughing). When asked on what beauty means to her she associated it with the flowers around her. Her favourite flower was Aster. At her spot she was selling mostly garlands worth INR 40 and gajras worth INR 20.

 

Sushila has been a part of the market for a period of 20-25 years, she also mentioned that her mother and sisters were involved in the same. Another interesting fact that she let me in on was that instead of staying at home and looking after her husband and family after marriage, her mother encouraged her to carry on selling flowers!

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Her favourite flower is the Small rose. She too was selling garlands ranging from INR 80 to INR 20. She mentioned that she was okay with the aspect of bargaining and that ladies could be a quite persuasive lot. She despised the cobwebs around her and stressed on the aspect of cleanliness, she made sure the first thing she did in the morning was to get rid of the ones around her. She was perturbed for they were hanging over things that are being sold to eat, and found it completely the unhygienic. She strongly opined that the Municipality should do something about it, it’s their responsibility to do the same.

 

Mehboob was one of the only wholesalers I talked to. His chirpy and talkative nature helped me gain insight on how it feels to be a wholesaler in the mapusa market. Originally from Karnataka, he has been selling flowers in the market for 7 years. Mehboob does business with his uncle Shaukat, and his younger brother by his side. With selling flowers loose, they also had garlands on sale ranging over INR 300, 200, 50, 40 and 20, depending on the size and flowers used. They had fixed rates as far as sale was concerned, but it would lapse during the ‘zatra/jatra’ season. When asked on what beauty was to him, he mentioned his mother. For him she was the most beautiful thing he had ever come across. Asters and Yellow Buttons were among their favourites. They gave me a sample of each flower as a token of remembrance.

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The experience and working on the decided project has helped me grow as an individual, and I am happy to have met all these people and how they try and make a living by selling, what we generally pluck from our gardens. It is a much more extensive and intensive process and requires a certain level of involvement which was a common feature among the varying people I came across.

 

 

 

So the challenge was to use 100 Rupees to buy stuff that you found interesting, quirky or unique to Mapusa Market. I finalized to have a common thread (literally) between all my items i.e. that they should all be stuff that were bead-like on strings.

1. The Goan Sausage: the never failing favourite of Goan cuisine gave me a unique start item and due to its slang term ‘Rosary Beads’ helped me onto my second. These 5 beads I got for Rs 15/-

2. The Rosary: Goa has one of the highest percentages of Catholics in India and this is quite apparent by the huge number of churches and also the super variants in Rosary design. This one was tri coloured and made from an interesting breakproof bendable plastic. Super cool! Got for Rs 30/- at the entrance of the market.

3. Cow Bell: This lovely beaded item is used to decorate and help the cowherd find his favourite cow with a tinkle of the bell. It was the most expensive item on my list for Rs 65/- but worth every Rupee, as Werner proves here…

4. Junk Jewellery: Theres tonnes of cheap jewellery in Mapusa Market, I just went for cheapest to continue my theme. Rs 5/- these buggers costed me.

5. Teething Baby’s Item: This was the strangest item i noticed on my walk. A fluorescent plastic dumbbell that apparently helps babies who are teething, by simbly inserting in their mouth. Yes very very suspect, especially because it was displayed right next to naphthalene balls. Don’t cry little baby, this costed only Rs 5/-

As you might notice, I suck at bargaining and couldn’t keep it within my 100 limit. But here’s the spots to buy these items incase you want to try your luck.

As i was near the Pao market in Mapusa, this sound suddenly became apparent to me and i was attracted to it, it is the sound that the sugarcane juicer makes, these machines run all day and the sound is the result of a bell attached to the fly wheel. I liked how continuously and steadily it rang and gave the space a rhythm, a sound and because of its constant ringing, it becomes  somewhat invisible. But it is very much there and it plays day in, day out. I had of course, heard this sound before, in fact these sugarcane machines use a bell all over India, as a looping audio advertisement for sugarcane juice. Only this time, perhaps, it was because i was on the look out for a starting point, that it resulted in me making these films.

There are 8 of these machines spread across the market and they are beautiful things, most of them run with all the gears and cogs exposed, due to a lack of health and safety standards in India. But it is because of this exposed machinery that they have an industrial era charm to them, and this coupled with a continuous spinning and ringing makes the apparatus reminiscent of clock work.

8 sugarcane juice shops spread across Mapusa Market, Goa

Here are the 3 films I screened in Mapusa Market, Goa on the 31st of January 2014. I request you to watch these full screen on Youtube as the plug in does not allow full screen and ideally at 720P HD quality.

Simultaneous

This film is an illustration of this idea of simultaneity, the idea that everything is bound by the single thread of time and all that happens along it, happens all at once. This idea becomes more apparent in a bustling market place like Mapusa Market, as there is a lot of activity happening in a rather condensed space.

To illustrate this abstract idea, I have layered the sound of each machine to gradually build up to a cacophonous crescendo. It is an imaginary juxtaposition, this collective sound would only be heard if all of the machines were together at one place, which in reality would never happen. But although far apart, it is true that these sounds coincide everyday around 9:00 am till about 7:00 pm. It is just that they lie spread out and we can’t actually hear them all at once, this film makes that happen.

 

Silhouettes/clockwork

The shots used in this film are all from the perspective of the shop or the juicer himself, the camera sees a rather pretty looking silhouette of the machine, the camera cannot see light and dark together, it only wants to focus on either light or dark. This worked for me as it created a beautiful shot. It does not look as impressive with the naked eye. Here again, the clockwork like movement and ticking/tinkling of the bell, gives the film a temporal feel. The world outside seems to continue relentlessly, with apathy and without regard, just as time does, this relentlessness may also refer to the nature of the market, apart from it being a vibrant cultural space, it is also an intense battleground of trade and commerce.

 

Sum of many parts

The idea for this film, started as a spontaneous sketch as i was editing the other two films. I thought well, I can construct a fictitious machine, by individually showing the various revolving parts from different machines. This film is an audio-visual unification of all the 8 machines into one imaginary machine.

On the 31st of January ’14, I screened these films in Mapusa market, it was quite an experience. Because, I was showing a kind of art film, people there may or may not see it as art. Expectedly, everyone asked me, what is the point of this? I explained, well I found this machine and its ringing attractive so i decided to make a short film, it is also kind of a study of just this machine and its movement. Some people weren’t amused so I added, I see this film as part of a process and an instrument to have a conversation with you, so in a way the point of the film is to create an interaction. Some folks seemed to appreciate this but a man I spoke to in the end wasn’t satisfied. Eventually, with some desperation it occurred to me and I resorted to saying well why is there a wheel in the national flag, to justify this film by adding a popular reference and therefore a dimension of purpose. This somewhat quelled his curiosity, although I cannot be certain, perhaps he had enough of me.

I screened these films back to back for nearly 2 hours and 15 minutes, starting at 6:00 pm on till 8:15 pm and amazingly, at any given point, there were 6-7 people watching the films at the minimum and at some other points, a good 15-20 people watching it. A lot of people watched it and didn’t ask any questions. I can only wonder what went through their minds.

Unfortunately, I must say the star of the show was, the Dell P-65 LED mini projector. The first time I saw it, I was amazed at how small it was. So it was no wonder everyone was also amazed in the market. About 6 out of 10 people asked me if this was a demo and how much the projector costs etc. I immediately realised, that indeed I am in a bustling market, people expect to see things selling. And it was Friday, which is market day. The market massively increases in density, and many big sellers come here. ( https://mappingmapusamarket.wordpress.com/category/friday-bazaar/ ) Eventually, I had to put up a ‘Projector not for sale’ note at the side. This way I could just point to the note and say, please watch the film.

A sixteen year old, DVD selling, migrant boy called Akhtar, hailing from U.P. asked me, since you make films, well, why don’t you show the big bridge in Calangute, the Western Ghats and people parasailing on the beaches? To which I said, yeah I could even show pictures of the USA but the point is that i have to stay local, Nayim, his friend, unexpectedly then said something in my favour, he said “jo cheez dikhti nahin woh dikhate hain yeh” (he is showing stuff that doesn’t necessarily get seen man). I thanked Nayim in my head and said yes thats more to the point. During the process 2 people even asked for my number, a certain Mr. Prasad and Mr. Vishal with whom I had intense conversations, they said they like the film but do not know what to make of them but they seemed impressed and to me they seemed like thinking inquisitive folk, unfortunately I left 4 days later and I never got a call from them.

This was the first public art project, I have done, I have seen public art and deeply appreciate how the works on display prompts passers by to ask questions and try to understand what is going on. I like the fact that the average person, is not connected with the popular discourse of art, his mind is not conditioned to make stereotypical connections, it fascinates me as to what such a person would take from something like this. Often they make comments and ask questions, that would have never occurred to myself. Interacting with people in the market and trying to communicate the idea, clarifies my own perspective and therefore I see it all as part of the process. But perhaps, next time I will show films that people here can relate more to.

Here are photographs of all of the eight, machines. I could only get one image of the one near the old fish market because he refused to co-operate. Put it this way, I wasn’t able to start a conversation. Following are observations I made through out the process of filming and talking to the people who ran the shops, these are a mix of factual, trivial and anecdotal observations as random details became more apparent in the process.

  • 7 out of the eight machines have the same basic design. All machines, have 3 fixed gears between the motor and the grinder. Ram-Milan’s (Vikas Cold Drinks) machine is of a  different design, it has one less belt and a cog instead. His machine lost on power and I remember it kept getting stuck, and squeezed out less juice. Although, his machine had a very pretty fly wheel and its bell rang at the highest beats per minute.
  • The machines ran at slightly different speeds, they ran at 108, 99, 108, 100, 94, 96 and 178 beats of the bell per minute.
  • 4 of the machines used a single bell, 2 of the machines used 2 bells and 2 others used a bunch of 4-5 bells, these ones had a really nice ghungroo like sound to them.
  • The strings that Mr.Naik (Krishna Cold Drinks) uses to tie the bells to the machine, breaks every 4-5 days. I suggested a metal thread to which he said “aise hi chalta hai”.
  • All machines were painted in variations of a sky blue shade. This trait is somewhat specific to Goa.
  • It was common knowledge among the others that Ankush Juice Center outside the flower market is the biggest seller in the market. This is because of where his shop is placed, it receives the most foot fall. The one man running it, worked ceaselessly with his rather powerful machine, juicing and serving continuously.
  • Only 2 sellers, sold just sugarcane juice. Others resorted to keeping cold drinks, snacks and even agarbattis.
  • 5 out of the 8 had a guard, on the fly wheel, where as 3 ran without any safety measures. These naked machines, looked great as you could see each of the individual moving parts, although this came at the cost of safety, but no one reported of any accidents.
  • All machines were operated by one man, except 2 who ran a two man operation,  here, one man kept juicing and serving, the other, skinned the cane and cleaned the shop.
  • I also learnt from Ram-Milan, that juicing is the easy part since the machine does all the work of squeezing out the juice, cleaning and skinning the cane prior to the juicing is where the bulk of the labour is.
  • 3 shops were run by people who are employed and paid a wage to run the shop. In these cases, the goan landlord, most likely owns a few properties. 5 of the sellers owned and ran their own shops.
  • Like everything else, the business changes with the seasons, so just after spring, April through to September is their busiest time. As its hot and a cold glass of sugarcane juice becomes that much more desirable.
  • Served with a dash of lemon and crushed ice, a glass of sugarcane juice is tasty and refreshing. It has a lot of flavour and is surprisingly less sweet than most other beverages like Pepsi or Coca-Cola.
  • The sugarcanes come from the neighbouring state of, Maharashtra.
  • In an ironic reversal of the crucial allegiance between Krishna and Arjun in the Mahabharata, Mr. Naik of Krishna Cold Drinks and Mr. Sandeep of Arjun Cold Drinks, are infact the only two direct rivals in the market, simply because they are neighbours. Mr. Sandeep said, tension mounts when a customer comes midway and both of us are vying for his/her attention because of the tension this causes we hardly ever speak to each other. (note last picture in gallery)