Coconuts, crabs and car parts: Bangalore's multifarious Russell Market
Russell Market, being one of Bangalore's oldest markets, is the most comprehensive place to shop for everything fresh -- vegetables, meat, flowers and fruit. It was started by the British in the early 1900s as the central grocery spot and hasn't lost its color one bit, since then.
I went on a Sunday morning, the busiest day, with people from all over the city flocking here to load up on fresh food for the week.
The market smells. In a good way. Vans loaded with coconuts are being unloaded or loaded. Fruit sellers set out heaps of aromatic orange mangos. Flower girls squat by the street, organizing jasmine bundles to be sold at traffic lights later in the day, or braiding fresh flowers into garlands bigger and heavier than me. "Mostly used for politicians or dead bodies," the vendor says. "About 90 percent for dead bodies," he adds, as an after thought, but with a straight face. It is pleasant, those chaotic colors and the smell of flowers, jasmine mingling with rose and mango.
And then suddenly a slight whiff of raw meat. The meat market is behind the flower area, with carcasses of goats dangling out to dry, being chopped into smaller pieces, with the blood still a little fresh on some of them.
Prawns, squids, mussels, sharks, crabs and fish whose names I do not know are all found in the fish market. Some are alive and some are dead. I am tempted to poke my finger at a big crab, who reminds me of a cartoon character. "The claws are very fast!" the vendor warns me before I do something stupid.
And finally, the fragrance-free scrap market section. I can't really shoot too much in detail, I am warned. That's because maybe some of those parts piled on the roof of the tin shops are not completely legal. But you can get any spare part you want for your car or bike, regardless of the year and make.
Russell Market is in the heart of Bangalore. From M.G Road, which is one of the city's central streets, head west towards the Chinnaswamy cricket stadium. At the traffic light at Anil Kumble Circle, take a right. Follow the road straight down for about two kms. After the main Shivajinagar bus stop, take a right and the first left. The market lies to your right, across from a parking lot.