This image gallery charts a day in the life of Mapusa Market, Goa, India. ‘Mapping Mapusa Market’ is a collaborative research project supported by the AHRC, the British Council and the ‘Unbox’ Festival in India.
Mapusa Market is a typical local Indian market: a vibrant hub of commerce and human interaction. But it is also distinctive and unique. The original planned architecture, built in 1961 has been added to with new buildings to house the fish and meat markets. But much of the infrastructure is little changed in fifty years and is showing signs of neglect and disrepair.
Every Friday the market swells as hundreds of ‘day vendors’ arrive from across Goa. They set up improvised pitches selling home-grown produce, Goan delicacies, spices, toddy and other local goods. The array of merchandise is reflected in the diversity of market users who come in their thousands to do business and socialise in the vibrant atmosphere. But whilst Mapusa market is a thriving commercial environment it is a fragile organism. Recent relaxation on foreign investment laws, ‘FDI’, allow international supermarkets to penetrate the Indian retail environment for the first time. Whilst it is estimated that over 80% of Indian retailers are still independent, this is set to change. Goan’s increasing purchasing power and changing tastes will bring new expectations and demands. Controversial plans announced in 2014 to close the market and open on a new site are on hold, but thousands of livelihoods could be at stake.
This research aims to document the market in new ways including through creative interventions. It is a collaboration between researchers and freelance designers and artists from India and the UK and demonstrates how, over ten years, the AHRC has broadened its geographic reach, partners and the richness of its international collaborations.
The project was conducted on-site in the market place between 2012 and 2015 and was led by Professor Orijit Sen (Goa University), Bahbak Hashemi Nezahd (Royal College of Art), Stanzin Losal a Delhi-based designer and Professor Andrew Burton (Newcastle University). It featured contributions from many of Goa’s leading artists and designers. The full resource of information and projects can be found at www.mapusamarket.net
about Mapusa Market
This market plan, dating from the early 1960s hangs in Mapusa Municipal Corporation’s office building close to the market. It presents a schematised and highly organised impression of the market. Whilst many of the units shown in the plan have since been subdivided and new fish, meat and vegetable markets have come up recently, the market’s essential layout, shown here, remains unchanged. But the infrastructure has been neglected, and much of the market is frequently under several inches of water during the monsoon.
about Cleaning Troop
7.00am. Municipal market cleaners arrive for work. In Corporation saris, Mapusa’s cleaners present a more positive picture of ‘sweepers’ than in much of India. Traditionally regarded as low-esteem employment, refuse collection remains a largely un-automated industry that struggles to deal with the volume of refuse produced. The job is hindered further by the numerous cows roaming the market ‘processing’ waste. More positively, since the Goa-wide ban on plastic bags in 2013 the blight of discarded plastic is gradually improving.
Friday Market Day Vendor
about Friday Market Day Vendor
8.00am A day vendor arrives with her basket of snake gourds. Every Friday thousands of villagers bring their produce to market. Most are not farmers but bring small quantities of produce grown in their gardens. The research traced their routes into the market. Whilst many are local, others arrive from further afield in the state and even from neighbouring Karnataka or Maharashtra. Goa is a wealthy state with many families receiving money from relatives working in the Gulf and Mapusa Market is a prosperous one and prices are relatively high.
The Market at 9.00am
about The Market at 9.00am
By 9am the market is bustling. Mapusa Market is particularly famous for its bananas, with four varieties available year–round. Many of the local restaurants, catering for Goa’s huge tourist industry source their vegetables, fish and meat in the market. Vegetables are essential commodities and prices fluctuate widely for a variety of reasons. The price of onions reached an unheard of 80 rupees per kilo in 2015 causing serious political alarm.
8.30am Each morning regular stall holders buy their produce in the fruit and vegetable wholesale market adjacent to the main market. ‘Unorganised retailing’ still comprises the major part of India’s retail economy. Until 2010 supermarkets were absent from small towns and almost everything was sold through small shops or market stalls. But retail reforms introduced in 2011 which allowed ‘FDI’: Foreign Direct Investment, have opened the way for the arrival of international supermarkets, heralding fundamental changes to the retail environment.
about Plastic Flowers
10 a.m. Plastic Flower sellers. Cheap plastic goods are often produced in India, usually in Mumbai but are also imported from China. Whilst there is still a good market for locally made goods - home made bamboo ‘kazoos’ , knives made from recycled hacksaw blades and recycled plastic water jugs and drinking vessels, increasingly many goods on sale could be found in any market in the world.
about Fish Market
Fish is a traditional staple of Goan cuisine and the basic ingredient for the classic Goan dish, fish curry and rice. Fishermen work at night in small trawlers or – inshore - unpowered canoes. The catch is landed at Siolim, a few miles from Mapusa market. Traditionally, it is the fishermen’s wives who sell the catch. The old fish market, pictured here, had no electric light and at night was romantically lit up by thousands of candles, illuminating the fish in their bamboo baskets.
Ceramic Ware Market
about Ceramic Ware Market
Ceramic vessels and hand-painted ornaments are produced in two villages close to Mapusa. Cheap handmade clay ornaments, clay piggy banks (or elephants, chickens and other creatures) and festive items are popular. The unfired clay drinking cups once ubiquitous on India’s railways have now been replaced by plastic – though there is a move to reinstate them. During festivals the ceramic stalls stock thousands of brightly painted bowls which are filled with oil for burning at devotional shrines.
Goan chouriço sellers
about Goan chouriço sellers
Noon. Goan chouriço. Goan culture remains strongly influenced by its heritage of nearly 450 years of Portuguese Catholic rule, Goa is unusual in India in that pork is still widely – and openly – consumed. Goan chouriço is distinctive for combining pork with vinegar, chilli and spices to produce a hot and spicy sausage. Goa is also noted for its bread rolls, pão, which are baked daily and delivered to a bakery section of the market close to the chouriço vendors.
Sewing Machine Repairs
about Sewing Machine Repairs
2pm. Sewing Machine Repairs. Stallholder Elmech, in common with a surprisingly large number of Mapusa stallholders continues to work in the same shop that he moved into with his father when the ‘new’ market opened in 1961. His business mending sewing is an example of one of the many repair businesses still operating though his skills in mechanical mending are now less in demand than those needed to mend mobile phones.
about Chilli Stall
5pm. Spice stall. Chillis are a basic ingredient in Goan cuisine: traditionally, masala spices are ground and mixed daily. Although renowned for its spice stalls, most spices in the market are imported from neighbouring Karnataka. Agriculture is in decline in Goa with land left untended or sold for development. Today, work in the Gulf is more lucrative than farming and Shankar, who begins work when he finishes school, does not see working on his family stall as a life-long career.
about Drum Seller
12. Drum Seller. During the Ganesh Chaturthi drum sellers appear in the market. The drums are beaten by children as plaster or plastic idols of the god Ganesha are taken to a water body and immersed. A practice that is increasingly causing alarm as the paints used to colour the idols are often toxic and are polluting the waterways.
4pm. Arjun Pankar begs for a living. Of India’s estimated 4 million beggars, those who are incapacitated through polio are not generally stigmatised. Although others are not so fortunate, there is a generous culture of giving alms in India which is promoted in Hindu culture. Arjun Pankar, who has lived in Mapusa all his life suffered from polio in his childhood when it was endemic across India. More recently, an aggressive eradication campaign resulted in the last reported case being in 2011.
about Ganesh Chaturthi
7pm. The Ganesh Chaturthi – the Chovorth is a hugely popular celebration of the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the elephant headed god. In Maharashtra, Chaturthi was reinvigorated at the end of the 19th century by Tilak who recognised Ganesha’s appeal as the ‘God for Everybody’ and popularised the festival to galvanise nationalistic fervour against British colonial rule. In Catholic Goa where Hindus were persecuted under the Inquisition, Ganesh Chaturthi is as popular as elsewhere in South India and often coincides with Christian festivals.
15. MIDNIGHT: At night the market is deserted other than for cows and dogs. Tourists shift to the popular ‘night markets’ along the coastal strips. The main alley of Mapusa Market at midnight reveals that Goa’s ‘no plastic bag’ push still has a way to go. Work clearing the rubbish will begin again each day, 365 days a year as the cleaners and early traders arrive for a new day of trading.