There was a merry-go-round and a giant wheel, and excited children waiting their turn to get onto them.
The stalls formed a ring round the edges of the ground, which were fenced off with stakes, and only one curve of this ring was given to the games stalls; the rest were for selling things from.
Many things were on sale, from large earthen barrels and casks for storing grain to buckets and mugs; and from kitchen implements like cooking vessels and ladles and pincers to figures made of wood or clay of gods and goddesses and animals and birds and fruits.
Easily the most popular stalls were the food stalls, which emitted an aroma one could catch from a long way off. In all but one of these, food was served in disposable paper or leaf plates, and one had to take it standing; but there was also one small open-air restaurant with collapsible chairs and tables.
There were readymade tea sellers going around the mela ground with kettles and clay cups, and stall-less vendors selling their wares from sheets of cloth or plastic or gunny laid out on the ground. Here were selling toys and balloons, and there, bangles and imitation jewellery and trinkets, and underclothing and thin Indian towels called gamchas, and local remedies for common ailments, and a little bit of different everyday things, from talcum powder to padlocks. There was a local artist trying to sell his paintings, and a barber with his box of tools and a single wooden chair for his customers.
In a small patch of open space a musician-hawker, with a basketful of miniature homemade violins balanced delicately on his head, played a lively little tune to the accompaniment of his colleague’s tom-tom and the slapstick antics of a dwarf dressed up as a circus clown. They certainly succeeded in adding colour to the proceedings as well as attracting attention to themselves, though in combination with the blare from the loudspeaker, they posed a definite threat to one’s eardrums.
The various sounds and noises of the mela ground coalesced to create a continuous buzz about the place that was like an electric field, and anyone who came within its sphere of influence became automatically energised. After the fair, there would be mounds of litter at the site that no one would want to clean up in a hurry, but that apart, the fair came as a blessing to one and all in the village— the traders, the hawkers and the local artisans, to whom it brought monetary profit; and the common folk, for whom it provided a welcome respite from the tedium of their daily routine.