Photo Essay: Fieldnotes from Tejgadh Market

“Where is the nearby market?” I asked my colleague, Narayanbhai at the Adivasi Academy. After completing 14 days of self-quarantine at the Academy, my first day started with a visit to the Tejgadh market to buy some food and groceries. Narayanbhai mentioned that the market is one kilometre away from the Adivasi Academy, located in Tejgadh, Gujarat. He said, “People here usually grow their own vegetables and fruits and rely less on the market for their everyday needs. The market will be less crowded now due to the pandemic, see which shops are open and if you find what you need”. In this photo essay, I share some of the photographs that I had captured alongside my initial observations from the Tejgadh market stemming from my service as an AIF Clinton Fellow with Bhasha Research and Education Centre.

Photo 1: Road that goes towards the Tejgadh market
Photo 1: Road that goes towards the Tejgadh market

The above photograph (Photo 1) is of the road that goes towards the Tejgadh market. On the way, I saw various trucks passing by, locals on two-wheelers, and a few cars heading towards the direction of the Madhya Pradesh-Maharashtra border.

Photo 2: Importance of Tejgadh and its connectedness within the region
Photo 2: Importance of Tejgadh and its connectedness within the region

The nearest city to Tejgadh is the ChhotaUdepur district town. My colleagues at Vaccha shared that people visit ChhotaUdepur to avail medical facilities or have access to the railways for long-distance travel. Others will also commute to ChhotaUdepur to buy groceries or other commodities that are not available in Tejgadh. As the photograph (Photo 2) above also signs posts, the nearest metropolitan city is Vadodara which is a hundred kilometres away.

Photo 3: Shop at the Tejgadh market
Photo 3: Shop at the Tejgadh market

In the Tejgadh market, there are different kinds of shops – kirana stores, pan stalls, mobile stalls, tire repairing stores, and so on. The shop highlighted in the photograph sold several items that I was familiar with. While I was looking for bread, the shopkeeper shared that usually the demand for bread is low in the village and hence they do not stock such items. The brief interaction with the shopkeeper emphasised on availability of certain products, the demand and supply and how they procure these items. This conversation helped me understand the composition and needs of the local population.

Photo 4: Impact of the pandemic on the market
Photo 4: Impact of the pandemic on the market

This place is on market street. On the main road, I observed local modes of transport and some shops on the opposite side of the street selling fruits, clothing items, and groceries. I walked towards a fruit seller selling bananas. The fruit cart was on four wheels with a sheet covered on top. The sheet acted as a shed to the fruit seller in the heat as well as help cover the fruit. I bought a few bananas and he enquired if I was new in Tejgadh. “The market is quiet and less congested as opposed to the situation before the pandemic. The market used to be very busy during the afternoon. People would travel or buy items from the market. But now I hardly sell any fruit. This has impacted us”, the fruit seller said.

Photo 5: Housing and Livelihood
Photo 5: Housing and Livelihood

There were several other shops by the road. I observed that most of the shop owners lived right next to their shop. They either had a rental or temporary accommodation set up. They were built with a mix of temporary and permanent building material giving a cue about the makeshift nature of these places. Yet it was an integral part of the permanent landscape because it was widely accessible to the community living in and around.

Photo 6: Housing near Tejgadh market
Photo 6: Housing near the Tejgadh market

The settlement in the above-mentioned photograph is an example of houses in the region. The cement slab outside the house was used for bathing and washing clothes.

Photo 7: Halted constructions due to the pandemic
Photo 7: Halted constructions due to the pandemic

There were also many pending construction projects in the region such as the house as seen in the photograph above. Shopkeepers from the Tejgadh market shared that various construction works were halted owing to the restrictions during the pandemic.

Photo 9: Grains and spices
Photo 9: Grains and spices

This photograph shows the grains and spices sold in the local store. The shopkeeper emphasised that people prefer raw ingredients as opposed to packaged spices or products.

Sneharshi is serving as an American India Foundation (AIF) Clinton Fellow with Bhasha Sanshodhan Prakashan Kendra in Tejgadh, Gujarat. For his fellowship project, he is conceptualizing new collections, presentations, and displays for the ‘Museum of Adivasi Voice’ and contributing to the issues on education, arts, and culture at Bhasha. Sneharshi recently graduated from the Manipal Centre of Humanities with a Bachelor’s in Philosophy and Humanities. He completed the summer programme on Political Theory and International Politics from the Department of Government, London School of Economics (LSE). At Manipal and LSE, Sneharshi worked on assignments dealing with issues related to caste, class, identity, marginalisation, material memories, and political philosophy. He also presented a paper on visual anthropology at the World Class Day organised by the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. Prior to AIF, he was an Archives and Outreach Intern at The Partition Museum in Amritsar. As an intern, he recorded, transcribed, and documented oral narratives of people who migrated to India during the 1947 partition. Sneharshi also worked as a youth worker for a platform based mobile app – ‘Meaningful’ based at the University of Cambrigde, UK. He was selected as a part of the Global Leaders programme by Exeter University, UK, and Heritage Walk Calcutta where he presented his work on heritage buildings in Kolkata. Sneharshi enjoys graphic designing, photography, filmmaking, and theatre.

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