McLeod Ganj Market
One of the two parallel roads of the market Years ago when HHH Dalai Lama settled in McLeod Ganj,, tourists from all over the world started to pour in McleodGunj. This triggered many unusual things in this small, quiet, laid back Himalayan town - started happening there. Hundreds of small, big hotels, hundreds or restaurants, dozens of Yoga and Music classes and so on came up. Also bloomed was a big market. Now there are literally hundreds of road side shops, that appear in the morning and disappear completely by night. The sellers just sit on a cot or some kind of temporary elevated platform they have built at the road side.
Some utmost interesting things could be found there for sale. The focus, obviously is mainly on traditional looking or ethnic looking things and artefacts. Although lots of brass things made in Kanpur or Lucknow [in India] are sold in the market, they are quite popular amongst the buyers - especially foreigners. One entire road side is full of jewellery. Mainly beautiful colourful necklaces made up of stones and beads has been in fashion for several years now. Now a days you get the same in other cities of India, but the quality of the jewellery here is considered to be better.
Most Tibetans who run small stalls of food or jewellery or memorabilia, shift their stalls to Chandigarh or some other towns in the winters; as not many tourists visit McleodGunj that time. Later, in March or so, these sellers return back to McleodGunj as the touristy season starts that time.
Lots of these sellers create / manufacture their own stuff to sell. Most of the woollen things, especially hand-gloves, caps, scarves, sweaters etc are woven by the ladies who are selling those items. So, when you buy those, you definitely are helping them. There are one or two Thangka Painters too. Thangka painting is the traditional painting art from Tibet.
Whenever I visit McLeod Ganj, I keep wondering on the streets when I have nothing else to do. Once I went on clicking pictures of various lovely colourful patterns being created by the arrangements of goods on the stalls. Some of the arrangements were quite artistically done. While I bought some things, I chatted up with the sellers. Most were quite enthusiastic for talking. They had their own stories to tell. Common factor being, how they came to India several years ago when they were a teenager, and how India has supported them. Generally they were quite grateful towards India, but not necessarily every Indian they come across.
One day I witnessed an unpleasant incidence. While I was looking for some incense sticks, one nearby vendor suddenly burst out shouting at some Indian buyer. This vendor was a bit elderly. Apparently, the Indian guy had insulted him in some way. The Indian guy must have crossed the line, as he quickly disappeared from the scene. I approached the Tibetan vendor. He had a small tear in his eye. He kept talking to himself about although he is a refugee, he too is human and a person with self-respect. The street went back to the normal and onlookers lost the interest in the case. I kept chatting with him for a while and soon he calmed down. I decided to buy some things from him and he offered some good discount to me which I politely refused it telling him that It was good for me that he offered me a discount, but that more than the discount I was happy as he talked to me..
In the course of time I have bought lots of necklaces and many earrings etc, and tested all my bargaining skills on the younger sellers somewhat successfully. If you ever go to McleodGunj, keep some time in the schedule for shopping :)