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Smelling the roses in IT corridor

City slickers can check out colourful santhés once in a way. After all, when did we last see a supermarket shelf smile at us and enquire after our family?



The vegetables at santhés are fresh, and available at one-fourth the price charged in the city.

BANNERGHATTA ROAD — aptly referred to as the IT corridor of Bangalore. Drive down this road that bristles with activity and thundering traffic, and you hit the ingenuous Bannerghatta village.

Presenting and displaying to us a stark contrast in terms of living and lifestyle, it truly invites the city dweller to relish the rural.

Barely a kilometre from the Bannerghatta National Park, the high point of the village is the Tuesday santhé. Set against a rocky backdrop on one side and lush greenery on the other, the santhé is located near an ancient temple, with hutments on either side. Age-old trees form a cool canopy for the weekly market.

Starts early

Beginning to unfold in the wee hours of the morning, the hawkers are ready with their neatly arranged ware before sunrise. Each pitches his or her makeshift tent. Members of the family, including the little ones, squatting on the ground are ready with sales talk to market the products.

Comprising some 60 to 80 individual tents, the market is lined up in rows, each "stall" separated by a narrow walkway. The santhé, to the seller, is a major source of income. It also serves as an easy access to vegetables, grocery, cosmetics and other knick-knacks for the villagers who save a costly trip to farther areas of the city.

While the majority of people setting up stalls are from the neighbouring villages (Bannerghatta, Mantapa, Anekal, Jigani, Lakshmipura, Sirokote, Chikkagerae, Shivanahalli, Ragihalli, Begahalli and so on) there are those who come places as far away as Hosur, Denkani Kote and adjoining areas.

A picnic

Kamalamma, a regular at the santhé, says: "I have three sisters, and all of us have individual stalls here. For us, it's just not a day of sales and earning but also a mini picnic by itself."

Apart from vegetables, fruits, pulses and animal food, the market also is an outlet for garments, utensils, provisions, fancy accessories, a variety of ropes, cutting implements and so on. In fact, it's a one-stop mall for all the villagers' day-to-day needs.

Most of the vegetables, fruits and greens are procured by the sellers directly from the farmers. Some, like potato, onions, garlic, pulses and the like, are bought from the Yeshwanthpur Mandi (main market) and other parts of the city. One can catch a glimpse of tractors and lorries too at the site, supplying the hawkers with produce from nearby areas.

The stall owners pay a tax of Rs. 35 to Rs. 100 per day, depending on the nature of their ware and the space allotted to them. A gunny bag of onions, weighing about 50 kg., is sold at about Rs. 200 to Rs. 250, leaving the seller with a profit of Rs. 25. Most of the vegetables are available at about half the cost of that in the city. Greens are sold at one-fourth the price.

Hectic shopping

The buyers' population is at its peak during midday. Hotel and shop owners around the place also form a part of their clientele. Lingappa, a resident of Bhootanahalli (a neighbouring village), says: "I remember coming to this santhé along with my grandfather when I was a little boy of six. For me, the week is just not complete without a visit to the santhé, and now I come here with my son." Villagers, clad in their best, along with family and friends, noisily make their way to the santhé. They purchase what they fancy, including snacks and drinks.

Visual treat

The vegetables and fruits are fresh and much cheaper than those sold in the city. Their display display is a visual treat of colour and form. Sauntering past the stalls, one also gets a whiff of the spices and aromatic flowers.

Like the Bannerghatta santhé, other villages too have their santhés on different days. The Anekal santhé on Fridays, Jigani santhé on Wednesdays, Madivala santhés on Thursdays and Sundays, Chandapura and Hosur santhés on Saturdays and Varthur santhé on Sundays all provide those who will probably never ever step into a mall in their lives satisfying bargains and, yes, entertainment.

We city slickers could also take time off to visit santhés. After all, when did we last see a supermarket shelf smiling at us and enquiring after our families?

POOJA H. RANGANATH

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