ITHACA, NEW YORK – The chaos and cacophony of bazaars have a life-affirming quality. In fact, the marketplace – with all its exchanges, wrangling, and camaraderie – has shaped human society from the very beginning. So, it should not be surprising that anthropologists often turn to marketplaces in their efforts to understand distant cultures. It is certainly a good way to glean insights into modern India.
Walking through a Delhi bazaar last week, chatting with friendly shopkeepers and roadside merchants and reveling in the warm glow of traditional India, it was impossible not to feel optimistic about the country’s prospects. This is not a place where one turns to their mobile phone to answer a question or guide them to their desired destination. Simply ask for the information you need, and several locals rush to provide it.