'To buy a fat pig'. Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market or 'Vic Market'

I hate shopping when I travel.

Yet, I spent close to three hours in this market. And had to drag myself away because of work. But then Melbourne’s Victoria Market or Vic Market is not any market.

The tram on the way back, a bit more crowded

I reached Vic Market on a Sunday morning after a tram ride from the Crown Promenade. You need to put in coins in the coin machines at the trams here. Most trams that I got onto at Melbourne were driven by smiling elderly Caucasian folks. The gentleman who drove the tram to Vic Market said I didn’t have to pay when I went to ask him what the fare was and what the ticket system was. I guess I was his guest this time. This was an exception, otherwise you go and put in your coins in the machine and get your ticket.

Vic Market reminded me of Calcutta’s Hogg or New Market. You walked through a number of stalls, in the covered section open at the sides, selling clothes, socks, movie posters, curios, DVDs, lingerie, mobile phone accessories and lots of other stuff. Into a section selling fruits and vegetables. And then to the Garden of Eden where I was ready to sell my soul. These were the two Deli sections.

Ranjit and Simon Majumdar had strongly recommended that I go to Vic Market when I was planning the trip. As did Kunal when I landed at Melbourne.

Bratwurst buns for breakfast as Kunal told me to have. I sat outside and shared a table with one year old Benjamin and his dad Brad who were ‘people watching’ while the women in the family shopped. Boy was the Bratwurst juicy. The markets of Georgetown, Chiang Mai, Istanbul, Bangkok and KL, Lucerne & Berne, Melbourne and Sydney have so much to eat around them. Wonder why Indian markets are so different.

People watching while the women in the family shop

Back in, I was lost in the endless array of meat – pork, beef, lamb...every possible cut – rump, T Bone, shoulder, tenderloin, breast, leg, trotters. Butchers calling out to those walking by. Cold cuts. Bum burner sausages, kangaroo pepporoni...some I tasted some I bought. 

Stairway to heaven

Had this the night after the World cup win. Hot

Part of our post World Cup Party

Cheese, cheese and more cheese. Tasted some phenomenal blue cheese at Adam’s counter at the Pavilion shop. Bought some Peccorino for home. Adam said that people took this when they went mountain climbing. I guessed it would survive a few flights. It did.

Adam, the most popular man at the market. Took a lot of pride in his cheese

This blue cheese was divine. Pity I couldn't carry it back

 Still nibbling on this

Coco Black and some Hazelnut dark chocolates bought for the Missus. Greek stores with amazing dips and octopus salads. Fresh pasta, breads, olives, more olives. Fruit slush to recharge. Three million photographs. Some shopping. A rushed run to the Spanish Churros van. Again, one from Kunal’s list for me. Ate a couple, the rest in my hotel room. A cappuccino with an admirable point of view at an Italian cafe at the corner and I tried to pull myself away.

Fresh pasta

Recharged myself with a fruit drink here

Big Fat Greek shop

The vegetable section

Got these back for K

Another good recommendation from Kunal

Spanish Churros. Apparently I was lucky to get these after 1 pm

In retrospect it was amazing that I managed to leave after just three hours.

This is my last post from my Australia trip. I left one from Melbourne till the end. I was posting on Sydney for a while recently. I just wanted to tell Melbourne that it was very much in mind.

 I liked this little rivalry that people at Melbourne and Sydney have. They both believe that their own city is the best. They take pride in this. They try to show their city in its best light to outsiders. They love it when you show an interest in their cities. They will go out of their ways to help you discover their cities. This love shows in the way both cities have developed their own personalities and have become iconic cities.

The IPL has started now at India. We will all cheer for our cities. I just hope that those who cheer for Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and so on remember not to litter, remember to take pride in their cities, try to make the cities look better, preserve their civic heritage, remember to be ambassadors for their cities, discover their cities, love their cities, fight to make them the best in the world.

The recent Lok Pal agitation showed that oridinary citizens can get galvanised if they believe in a cause. What's stopping us from saying that we won't take what's happening to our cities? What's stopping us from not spitting on the roads, not littering the streets, from paying to get the outer walls of our societies painted...whatever be the intention, the Mumbai Mirror's move against politician's posters blotting the face of Mumbai was a move in the right direction.

The biggest learning for me was the pride which the folks of Australia had in their cities and countries...what's stopping us from showing our cities and country in their best possible light?

I know that this sounds rather preachy but our only hope is if we change. Legislation and bills can follow. If not, we can remain looking wistfully at the rest of the world and plan our next holidays and getaways.