Thimphu City Walks – Children Playing At the Vegetable Market

Since 2005 when I came to Bhutan for the first time I have visited  the Vegetable Market in Thimphu very often and have spent many hours roaming around, observing the various activities, talking to people or just smiling at each other, buying momos from walking around vendors and taking many pictures.
Although all this is still possible to do, the market has changed quite a bit since then: then it was not one big twostoried complex as it is now but more an open ground with space for the people to display what they had to sell. The vendors had not clearly segmented easily cleanable boxes but it was more like a big stage where people would display and arrange the goods they had to offer. Since there were no compartments people would easier mingle and you could see children play beside grandmothers taking a nap and nearby men standing or sitting together discussing over an important topic; when it rained there were improvised plastic shelters put up for the ones who were not in a covered spot. It was a wonderful and colorful lively scenery with many different corners and views to explore where you could find hundreds of photogenic subjects within a relatively small but condensed square.

With the new construction things have changed a bit. I suppose that for hygienic and organising reasons the new construction must have many advantages compared to the old market. But as a photographer  -beside the lively and lovely chaos- I miss the various photogenic light situations that were given before . “Photo-graphy” means “drawing/writing with light” and the neon tubes that are installed now all over the big hall give a rather dark and flat light with a colder atmosphere and a smaller range of different light conditions than natural light would do.

Despite these facts you still can find a lot of interesting things and people to see and to meet at the vegetable market. Yesterday I came across a group of children who were apparently enjoying themselves by playing games of skill using a hand full of small stones, by hiding and seeking or by sliding down a small slope again and again. I was watching them for a while and began to take photos with my mobile phone. I wanted to test the Instagram app that I installed recently. I took many pictures for quite a long time: the smaller children were amused by viewing their photos that I took but the bigger girls were so much concentrated and busily engaged in their game that my photography was not of much interest to them. They apparently still know how to find happiness and fascination in a beautiful simple game played together with friends.


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