It was 9 a.m. Sheila hurried along the pavement towards the market.
The markets in Mauritius are not noisy. People are polite and talk softly. This is a small village market but the ambiance is same even in the city market though latter offers more variety. Rarely the humdrum is broken by merchants crying out their wares. People normally come to the market early to get the fresh vegetables. As the day progresses the vegetables are not so fresh anymore and the green-leafy vegetables which are very popular are almost gone. Only those with visible marks of pest infestation were available by the time Sheila arrived.
At the entrance Sheila bought some French loaves and salted cakes to go with the bread. She smiled at the women selling Indian bread (roti) and curry, pickles and sweet cakes as she passed by the newspaper stall. She stopped her breath as she came near the dried fish stall and quickly looked at the other stalls selling plastic and grocery items. She noticed the lady who grew vegetables near her house was selling some fresh green leafy vegetables though only a few were left. She instantly asked for those and the lady kindly packed all of them for her at half the price. Thanking her she walked away. She bought some aubergine, French beans, long beans and lady’s finger from other stalls. She continued along the rows and stopped at a stall selling bitter gourd. The price displayed was way too expensive. While she was contemplating whether to buy or not, an old woman came and asked the merchant whether he will reduce the price. The man looked away and Sheila and the old lady exchanged glances before moving away. Sheila was few stalls away from the beautiful looking tomatoes. Many people were crowding the stall. She glanced at the price and thought she would take half a pound (1 pound = 500 gms), too less but would serve to garnish some of her preparations. She started to choose some and gave the seller. The man noticing such a small amount smirked and curtly told her not to finger the tomatoes as this may spoil them.
A section of the market was earmarked to sell fresh or frozen meat and fish. Many people crowded inside ignoring the strong smell emitting from that area.
Cruising along she bought a pineapple, some apples, oranges, coriander leaves, thyme, parsley, and curry leaves. She also found some good pumpkin, chou chou (a local vegetable) and sweet gourd. By the time she had bought potatoes, onion, ginger and garlic and was leaving the market most of the merchants had already packed and left though it was only 10 a.m. By 11 nobody will be seen in or near the market.
Sheila remembered she needed pajamas and a pair of socks for her daughter. She went upstairs to take a look at the “la foire”.