“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t.” Yes, I love Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and this favorite line perfectly denotes the Devaraja market in Mysore. Though I will admit I mostly saw the madness!
I went there on a Saturday after being at Mysore palace in the early morning. It was really an excursion to take in the experience and maybe get some essential oils and powdered pigments for painting. There had been a man hawking anklets in front of the palace, I rebuffed, telling him I was headed to the market, saving my rupees for shopping later. Who know he would be following me for the rest of the day?
I was obviously with friends, as the open market in Mysore is not somewhere to explore alone, and preferably with a guide or someone who has been there before. My friend Stan had mentioned a great place to get incense and oil in the market that he had been too ten years prior. He had told me about a young boy, Syed, he had met and taken videos of that had very high quality goods. No sooner had we walked into the full vibrancy of chaos, when Syed was right in front of us, now a grown up 23 year old!
Syed was so wondeful. He, as well, remembered the earlier visit! He took us into the back of his storefront and happily started ordering us chais to get from his workers as we sat and smelled his incense and oils. Oh, the swelling pride that glowed in his face as he described his mother hand-making the incense, and showing us the difference in color as well as scent in ingredient choices! A true labor of love handed down generationally. His grandfather had won awards in Mysore for his craft with oils. Syed was passionate and joyful in his duty to continue the family business.
I admit, I wanted them all! The scents were divine, heady and intense, but also pure, subtle, and refreshing, a great combination! My order was ready after drinking about four chai. The conversation was worth the time spent. I loved learning about Syed, his family, his exhuberance, and his work. When all was finally said and done, yes, with the anklet guy still hovering right outside the kiosk, I bid Syed farewell, and said I was going to explore the rest of the market. He looked at me and exclaimed, “But you can’t! Don’t you see, you are so blonde and white, you are the Mark of the market!” I laughed and assured him I was in good hands with my friends and that we were only going to loop through, no more purchases, he was confident with that and let me go.
The anklet man was quite persistent. he not only followed me and found me at the market, but stayed with me negotiating all the way back outside to the scooter..he earned my purchases that day!