If there was ever an honoring award for a Sunday market in our country, it has to be Sunday Mart of Samtse which would win the award unanimously.
written on Sunday, 23rd Sept, 2012.
The Mart brings in range of products and services under the sheds built in the heart of the stagnated township of Samtse every Sunday.
On the previous day of the Mart, merchants from as far as Tendu (72 KM from Samtse) and farmers along the sipsoo- samtse High way come to samtse and especially the farmers of Doroka come down from their hamlets to the market sheds with fresh vegetables and fruits in their bamboo/cane buckets to cater to the consumers on the following day.
Some farmers still bring their farm products on horseback from Doroka walking down under the scorching heat of southern sun while others use vehicles to bring their goods.
A large number of shopkeepers at the mart arrive in mini-trucks on the early morning of the day from the Indian bordering towns. Mainly the Indian shopkeepers come from Chamurchi, Banarhat and Binnaguri with their goods and services that are not commonly found in Bhutanese Sunday Markets. Together, they make Sunday Mart of Samtse uniquely different- An Award winning of sort.
Gradually, the Mart comes in live as consumers from the vicinity of Samtse town turn up to buy the products and take benefit of the services available in the Mart.
Here, it becomes so easy if you wish to mend your broken umbrellas, to give your shoes a real polish or to stitch your torn clothes. You can buy a roll of yeast to prepare alcohol; a dash of fresh tea leafs to brew strong tea and best of authors like Robin Sharma and Paulo Coelho to read.
You can also find all kind of knives to cut and slice or religious artifacts to worship and idolize. You have a choice to buy Shoes, slippers and jewelries to wear, buy a roll of nylon thread for your fishing rod or chew betel nut from a small walking pan-shop. You can buy green vegetables, ripe fruits or eat momo in an open air.
Unlike in other markets, you can buy a fist of garlic or ginger here. The shopkeepers weigh squash and pumpkins with their bare hands. You can find shopkeepers using primitive beam balance (a beam balance with only one pot and is balanced by a wooden log on the other end) to weigh their products. Most amazing sight is to see shopkeepers squatted on the ground displaying their few items on a sheet of plastic or cross-legged under a tree waiting for his share of costumer.
For me the shopping experience with my parents today was one of a kind. It was emotional though. I felt like I was thrown into a time machine and travel led some 15 years reverse when things were utterly different. I felt sorry for those squatted and cross-legged shopkeepers. And my living in the Capital Thimphu where I see only foreign products in the shops and shopkeepers seated on comfortable chairs made me realize one Big Thing….. We live so far away from our own folks.
How you deal with this disparity and re-act will depend on your morality but the Award I discussed earlier goes unquestionably to the Sunday Mart of Samtse.
For now, enjoy the following images that reveals the facets of this wonderful Sunday Market.
|Come and buy Balloons of all shape and size|
|The best of authors sleeping on a dusty ground|
|My Mom bargains......My Dad waits|
|On cheap tables he laid expensive jewelries for sale|
|The over-view of the Mart|
|The choice is yours....they sale every kind of knives|
|The stall where your old shoes shine again|
|Farmers displaying their vegetables on small plastic|
|Bring your clothes here that need stitches|
|My Mom wants to try some fresh tea leaves|
|Religious items for sale|
|My Mom buying squash from a shopkeeper seated under the big tree|
|The corner where your umbrella gets repaired for next rainy season|
|Shopkeepers still use primitive beam balance to weigh things|