Wednesday, March 23, 2005


The Sunday Market in this city is one of the major sightseeing spots in this prefecture.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, dried seafood, local specialties and warm hospitality of local people… Guidebooks of Kochi always introduce the market with such phrases.

Living too close to it, however, I could not appreciate it the same way as tourists do. You know, they say fresh fruits and vegetables, but when I visit my parents’ house in my hometown, I can get real fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood mostly for free of charge. And they say warm hospitality, but maybe it’s a human nature to be nicer to tourists. It doesn’t necessarily mean that those people selling stuff at the Sunday market are exceptionally nice people. They cannot be too different from the folks in my hometown. So, to me, the Sunday market was just a nice place to visit, but I never expected to have any real heart-warming experience there.

This month, I had a chance to help with a fundraising event by selling things at a stall in the Sunday market. Last Sunday, I was at the stall with big smile on my face, despite the total lack of sleep the night before. I was also a little concerned about whether the vendors next to us are still displeased with us.

The weekend before, we set up the stall and sold things there, and seems like we did some things that other vendors in the Sunday market consider as a bad manner. The vendor next to us, an old woman, came to me and told me up-front that it was a bad manner and caused neighboring vendors inconvenience. We apologized and she said it was alright, and when leaving, she said she was looking forward to being our neighbor again in the market next time. I hoped that she really meant what she said, but I was not sure.

So last Sunday, I was still a bit skeptical, even after we greeted each other very cheerfully. Then after a while, it started raining! Now, being new at the market, we were not well-prepared for the rain. All we had was a big plastic sheet, but we didn’t have any frames to spread the sheet over. Then the old lady at the stall next to us, and another middle-aged lady on the other side, just started helping us make a rain-shelter without waiting for us to ask them.

They were so efficient and quick that maybe no girl scout members could beat them. They handed us any material they had… pins, strings, a plastic sheet, laundry poles etc… one after another, and kept saying “OK, here, use this!” with absolutely no hesitation. They instantly figured out the most effective way to spread the sheet and worked it out. And they didn’t blame us at all for being unprepared. I was so touched.

So this IS the relationship they value here… and then I understood why the old lady was so upset about our bad manner. It was something that disturbed the good relationship that the people value at the market. I really liked her for telling us what we did wrong, and also being so nice. This is the way obachans in Kochi are. Very up-front, and so warm at heart.

Honestly, I really would like to be one of such Kochi obachans, maybe in 20 years.

Now I like the Sunday market even more.
posted by obachan, 3/23/2005 11:46:00 AM


Obachan, Been from the country also and now living in the "city", I've found out things are pretty much relative to the situation. As when I went hiking with some friends here, they were so happy to be in the "forest", but to me my backyard back home was more of a forest than the forest here. Also, when I went home to visit, there were couple girls in a car next to my car talking. I overheard one girl say to the other that she didn't want to drive as she was too scared to drive in the "city". That was so funny and cute. They must have really been from the "country". As the small town there is no way a city compared to here. And here is "no way" a city compared to places like New York. Back home, I could just walk on the road and find wild avocados, fern shoots, guavas, mangoes etc. But, here I have to buy them. My mom still thinks it's crazy to buy mangoes. Yep, country, what a life.

What did you folks do that the vendors thought was "bad mannered"?  

Posted by lance
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 3/24/2005 7:23 AM  

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