Sundown at the bazaar is a strange time. It’s impractical for most of the vendors to try to carry on after dark, so when the sun starts to disappear behind the mountains, that’s the home stretch. For the food vendors especially, they don’t want to have to take home a load of produce that may not be in salable condition the next day. So in an effort to get rid of it, they drop their prices to rock bottom. Of course, everyone knows this is how it works, so people wait until sundown to come out and do their food shopping.
That last bazaar rush of the day is mayhem, and for an introvert like me, it’s also hellish. I’ll pay the extra ten pennies per kilo for onions in order not to have to deal with mobs of shouting people, pushing and shoving and getting in each other’s way. I’m happy to go late morning or early afternoon, and get the choice of the produce without having to fight other people for the best of what’s left.
At closing, some vendors find they haven’t sold all their stock, but financially it’s not worth it for them to lug it all back home. So they leave it on the sidewalk— huge piles of tomatoes, oranges, and whatever else didn’t sell. You’d think there’d be a mad rush for all this free stuff, but no. It’s a kind of unspoken rule that the leftover food on the sidewalk, still in perfect condition, is for those who can’t afford to pay. Well into the night, the poorest families and the homeless rummage through the piles of vegetables and fruits, filling huge bags until they have what they need for the week. No one stops them or bothers them. They come in quietly, they leave quietly, and by morning all the food is gone.
I didn’t photograph the night shoppers, though it would have been easy enough; I think if you’re willing to swallow your pride and accept free food on the sidewalk to feed your family, then I’ll give you the dignity of not being cheap blog fodder. We all do what we need to do to take care of our own. Nothing wrong with that.