The nice thing about being in a smaller city is that the vendors in the market are somehow much less aggressive here. They still yell and try to get your attention to be sure, but there’s less pushiness after the initial encounter.

Today I was looking around in the market near to clock tower in Jodhpur. It was a regular open-air market, and I was looking at the different vegetables at one of the stands. I asked the subziwalla (vegetable guy) what one of the vegetables was called, and we started in on a discussion that culminated in him quizzing me on names of vegetables in Hindi, and also hand-peeling and offering me samples of four or five different vegetables including a thing called “water corn” (a member of the corn family that grows underwater and has a water chestnut consistency with a mild corn flavor), indian cranberries, fresh peas taken right out of the pod, slices of massive cucumbers the size of my forearm, and others I can’t even remember. He told me which vegetables were purely Rajasthani and which were available in other places, as well as other interesting facts about them as I munched.

When I took out the camera to take a picture, another nearby shopkeeper was so excited that he gave me his card so I I could email the picture to his friend. Of course, I went into his shop for a bit too, and in addition to offering me a cup of chai and showing me some beautiful Rajasthani embroidery (without trying to push me into buying it), he also told me that his third child had been born that very morning! I took a picture of him and his brother as well. It was just wonderful to make these instant connections with people. It is one of the very best things about India, and I think a place like Jodhpur really makes it easy to seek it out.

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