13 Dec 2008
The bazaar has long been the tradition of the peoples of Kazakhstan; a place to buy and sell goods, often crowded, noisy and, sometimes, smelly but still it endures. It has grown dramatically since independence; since a true market economy came into being. The old days of Soviet Pravda, of their form of truth, are gone. The days of bare shelves are no more. There were few choices then but now the bazaar is all about choices, competition, barter, and full shelves with options among the many vendors. This has the effect of sifting out the good from the bad products and from the honest and the deceptive vendors.
There are small fruit stands along the highway and others near the sidewalk with vendors waiting for customers. Religious goods are for sale near mosques. Cold soda pop can be purchased almost anywhere. Others sell fresh cut flowers and, near the Turkish Baths, eucalyptus is sold in bundles ready for use. At the entrance to the Wedding Palace, white doves are available for the celebration. Fresh apples are a favorite in September. At the end of Ramadan, firewood, sheep and goats sell quickly for the Muslim Oraza Ait celebration. At this place, coal for heating and cooking is also sold in 80-pound bags.
The bazaars are for all. Sometimes to the western eye they appear strange. Fresh fish are examined by several people. Nearby, a pig is butchered, an unclean animal for Muslims but it seems they dont mind while at the market.
Most bazaars are open-air but the load of produce in this car is on its way to Zeloni Bazaar, the Green Market, a huge mostly enclosed area. People arrive here by car, bus, motorcycle, taxi and by foot. Of course, parking is at a premium and it is not free.
Goods are stacked high, aisles are narrow and there is barely enough room for the supply carts as they compete for space with the shoppers and the vendors.
(long sequence of activity)
Items found here are from China, Russia, Korea and Turkey. Fruits and vegetables are usually from Uzbekistan. Chocolate candy is made locally in a factory near the market.
Sometimes prices are fixed while other times the vendor is willing to strike a bargain. It is a place for the old as well as the young for the Kazakh and for the Russian. Nevertheless, care must be taken to ensure that the product is the size and weight as claimed. Some vendors do not use honest scales.
Back outside shoppers seem to be in a hurry to go to other parts of the bazaar or to return home with their purchases.
There is another kind of market across the street from a sidewalk bazaar and only a block from the Central Mosque. This is where advice is sold concerning ones problems, job, health, marriage and future. It is done through magic wands, card reading, beans, dice, as well as various hidden techniques. Truth is not found here. It is where people can fall into the trap of deception and lies.
Upscale shopping places are beginning to take hold such as the Mega Mall. Other department stores are located throughout the city; most with names in English. Not to be left out are tiny kiosks in old homes along the narrow streets and alleyways of many neighborhoods.
The bazaar is a place where freedom of choice and a free market meet at a crossroads of time and space. They are more than a place to buy and sell. They are a place to exchange ideas, to share the events of the day and a place where people can learn from each other. Sometimes, they are a place where a believer in Jesus can share the Good News of Gods Word with a fellow vendor.
Yes, the bazaar is an institution in this country, but it is continually changing as the people discover the value of freedom and, hopefully, realize the responsibilities that accompany this liberty.
Our prayer is that freedom will not be abused; that honesty and integrity will out weigh corruption and deception among the people of Kazakhstan.
God hates cheating in the marketplace;
He loves it when business is aboveboard.
Proverbs 11:1 (The Message)
Oraza Ait Oh-ra-ZAH ite (rhymes with height)
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