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Monday at do shanbeh bazaar

Monday at do shanbeh bazaar

Although “do shanbeh bazaar” literally translates as “Monday Market”, the shops, stalls and traders which make up this bazaar in the town of Sede can be found here all week. Having said that, it is on Mondays that it is at its busiest and more traders flock to the site filling up the street and pavements on both sides. Walking through the bazaar is slow work and not just because of the crowds of people, motorbikes and cars which all share the thoroughfare, but because there is so much to see. You also need to watch where you walk so you don’t trip over uneven paving stones and the odd hole in the road which can catch you out.

I love the atmosphere in the bazaar with traders shouting out prices to attract the passing shoppers and the noise of the constant haggling  by the wily women who know just how to get the best deal. I hate haggling. I am not used to it but watching Feri’s niece in action is an awesome sight and she always comes away with a reduction; £5 off a fresh flower display (eventual cost £15) was one of the best!

Iranians are born traders and you can end up paying a lot more than others if you don’t adopt the haggling mentality. My husband always tells me to identify items that I would like and then disappear from the scene so that he gets a good deal for being a “local” or “native”. If traders spot a tourist they will inflate the price substantially so my advice for buying in Iran is “caveat emptor!”

The variety of goods found in the bazaar is amazing and it is much more exciting and exhilarating than shopping in a sterile department store. It really is a “one-stop-shop” and I usually come home with a bag full of goodies which haven’t dented the purse too much. The nice thing about this market is that it is not focussed on the tourist trade but is very much about local produce and household goods that anyone will need.

I do get a lot of stares from the locals when I am in the bazaar. Sede is not a tourist town unlike Esfahan where they are much more used to tourists and Westerners and this can be difficult to tolerate sometimes. I understand why they stare but it can get a little disconcerting when people deliberately stand in your way to get a good look at you!

Mini-pumpkins

Mini-pumpkins

Walking up and down the street I am always amazed by the different goods that you can buy; Fresh fruit and vegetables (melons are a speciality of the Esfahan area), shoes, haberdashery, lights, material, sheep’s heads (for calapoce), ducklings and chicks, wedding dresses, nuts and dried fruit in abundance and hardware to name but a few. Some of my favourite shops and stalls sell women’s clothing and I have noticed a huge difference in the fashion since first coming to Iran four years ago. Colours are brighter, manteaus are shorter and are belted or have nipped in waists, scarves are worn further to the back of the head exposing more hair and make-up is applied with abandon. All very different and far more daring than on previous visits.

With all this activity going on you could easily walk past the bazaar mosque which offers an oasis of calm. The mosque is beautifully decorated with mosaic tiles and is clearly a focal point for the market community especially at prayer times.

The lovely thing about this bazaar is shops and stalls are rarely shut up and locked when the owner is away for any length of time. They may just put a sheet of cloth across the doorway which signifies that no one is there but I have seen no looting or theft despite the easy access. You can leave your bags of shopping hanging on your motorbike handles and it will still be there when you return. It is a much more relaxed and trusting environment which is a privilege to experience.

I love going to the bazaar especially at night when it is cooler and people are buying fresh produce for their evening meal. Life doesn’t stop when it gets dark, in fact it is at dusk that things come to life under the many lights that illuminate every street. I dread to think what Iran’s contribution to Global Warming may be due to their use of electricity to light their world but I do know that it makes life a lot easier and the days a lot longer when you can see what you are doing!

Next: Teenagers East & West meet up for a night out.

Learn the lingo:

Saturday                    shanbe

Two                              do

Monday                     do shanbe (two days after Saturday)

Watermelon             hendoune

Peach                          hulu

 

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Exploring the bazaar in Esfahan is one of my favourite pursuits and I never tire of idly roaming from seller to seller passing by the rhythmic hammering of the copper beaters and sawdust covered  furniture makers as we make our way towards the Bazaareh Advieh Furushaan-the spices.

The hammering and sawing noises fade as we catch our first peppery wafts of the herbs and spices (advieh). The fragrance is overwhelming and the ground and chopped produce displayed so beautifully that you can’t help but want to photograph the colourful mounds.

As well as being sold separately a selection of seven spices (haft-advieh) is sold together to create the Persian spice mix which makes Persian stews (khoresht) and rice (pollo) dishes so tempting. It is a collection of  heady and pungent flavours which varies between regions but can include black pepper, cinnamon, saffron, nutmeg, cumin, cardamom, and ginger.

And it not only looks good, it tastes great.

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