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Metamorphosis of Laban Market

Metamorphosis of Laban Market

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The article provides a reflective account of the changing landscape of a local market, with the author’s observations and feelings capturing the transition from a traditional marketplace to a new structure. The text delves into the emotional connection the author has with the market and how the alteration in its physical space impacts their experience and perception.

Laban Market 05/11/2022

The beginning of an end:

When a late afternoon cloud travels on Laban sky, this kong  occupying the first shop on one side of the bazaar pauses the Ludo app on her phone to sell some lemons or local chilies. Around the corner another aged kong who sells bananas and local eggs asks me – after her grandson has applied for admission to our university  – what exactly is my job :  ‘sikhata‘ (teach) or ‘sikhta‘ (learn). I smile to say that I do both. Or I’d like to think so.

While going to market to buy fish, fruits and  vegetables is experienced as a routine occupation by many, this short span of evening on many days grants me a routine-free freedom I have come to respect.Just as the evening recess between school and home during childhood would make us feel free. An atmosphere of ‘madhurjyo’  would fill out our space and time then; a similar  sweetness defines the mundane of this market. Here, in Shillong as I eat alone, I find it the most challenging of all solo tasks. Buying fish and vegetables with people around me doing the same gives me a sense of joy that remains loyal to me every day.

The shape and size of this bazaar will change soon with all its shopkeepers selling their business in a new consolidated building, its contours will look altered-I’ve been told. So, a new map of bazaar will emerge before us. Well. I’d miss the reassuring patches of sky peeping in between the separated roofs.

Laban Market  15/08/2023

Market is elsewhere:

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The market now, if it could be called such, is a small structure with a tin roof extended on both sides like half folded wings of a butterfly. When I enter to buy my vegetables and fish, I feel I have forgotten my route and arrived somewhere else; added to which is a feeling of not really knowing what I’d want to buy. The stalls now without clear boundaries touch each other, rendering a sense of intimacy that came unexpectedly. Because there is a lack of a clear sense of separation, there is also a sense of hurry and urgency as compared to the slowness of the previous space. Pace and space are amazing negotiators, they bargain with each other so well, here. Devoid of nourishment of the sun, the shops and its people cling onto whatever ready-made light that is available around. It looks like leftover of a bazaar that was.

On my way to work in the morning, I take the road that runs between the old bazaar and the existing one. Old bazaar has been pulled down, a big wall guarding its absence. I see a crow resting on the wall, its gaze directed towards the new market, as though caught between two worlds. Undecided.

I pause for a few moments to find out about the direction of its flight, but fail to gather any clue. Alone,  I resume walking, similarly suspended between the old and the new.

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