Minalesh Tera, the Overlooked Gem of Merkato.

3 Mons Ago
Minalesh Tera, the Overlooked Gem of Merkato.

BY STAFF WRITER.

I have visited Merkato many times in the past, but I have never had the chance to explore its hidden corners. The hustle and bustle always made me feel restless, and I would often find myself wanting to leave as soon as possible. Just thinking about Merkato makes me tired, so I always tried to avoid it whenever I could. One thing that particularly annoyed me was the salespeople who would lie and say that something looked good on a customer, even when it clearly didn't. I remember a specific incident when I was looking for black pants (trousers), and I saw a lady trying on a hideous dress. The salesperson actually had the audacity to say that she looked fabulous in it. Then, she tried on an even more hideous outfit that didn't suit her at all. I expected the salesperson to backtrack, but to my surprise, he said, "This one was made for you." I couldn't tell if he was being serious or sarcastic. Maybe he just didn't have a sense of fashion. However, later on, I noticed that he was showing other customers different clothing options, so it wasn't a lack of fashion sense. Additionally, there were laborers who would push people or warn them to move out of the way, as they carried piles of stuff. It was chaotic, with people obliviously blocking their path. And then there were those who confidently walked in the middle of the road, as if they were relaxing on a beach. When cars honked at them, they would turn and look, but continue walking. It seemed like they were more afraid of getting run over by donkeys than cars. Driving in Merkato requires a lot of patience and skill.

Sometimes I can be quite impulsive. One evening, I had this idea of starting a business by bringing antiques from Merkato, Minalesh Tera to sell. Without giving it much thought, I decided to go to Minalesh Tera the next day. It was my first time visiting, so I had to ask for directions. Luckily, a guy who was in the same taxi as me showed me the way. As soon as I entered the market, I was amazed by what I saw. Maybe it was because it was my first time, but I felt a sense of excitement about the possibilities of what I could find. I started searching for antiques, but unfortunately, I couldn't find what I was looking for. The people working there informed me that these items are usually available on Sundays. While exploring the market, I noticed that people were buying seemingly useless things like screws, broken and working items, chargers, household appliances, clothes, and much more. At one point, I came across a rechargeable light and asked the seller if it worked. Surprisingly, he honestly admitted that he wasn't sure. I was taken aback by his honesty because most merchants would claim that it works just to make a sale.

I was amazed by the hardworking nature of the people there. Whether it was fixing bricks, sharpening knives, or washing worn shoes, they were dedicated to their work. It was truly admirable to see them earning a living through their sweat. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many individuals who work tirelessly just to make ends meet, while a small percentage of people live luxuriously. It's not a choice for them to pick up trash or clean other people's bathrooms, but they do what they have to in order to survive. Instead of begging, they choose to work. That's what I witnessed. Another interesting aspect of Minalesh Tera is the saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure." Things that may seem useless to some have value to others, and they are even willing to pay for them. I found myself buying a broken toy that I knew didn't work, but it was still visually appealing. Everything has a price and is for sale in Minalesh Tera, from broken screens to non-functional phones, even lids of items and slightly damaged items that may seem worthless. It was truly fascinating. I even heard about a place that sells a handful of food for 5 birr, for the price which does not buy you a single bread these days. For someone who is hungry but can't afford a full meal, a big bite seems like a viable option.

I was also amazed by how far people would go to save money. It's incredible to see people from all corners of the city coming to buy things in bulk just to save a few bucks, even if it means going back and forth multiple times. Some would rather save 50 birr by purchasing an item for less at Merkato, only to spend that money back on a taxi later. This experience was a wake-up call for me, making me reconsider my own life. I realized that I was often lazy and complained too much, compared to those hardworking individuals who brave any weather to make ends meet. The whole process involved bargaining, with buyers haggling for lower prices and sellers insisting it wasn't profitable for them. It's amazing how these people never seemed to get thirsty, or maybe they did but I never saw them drink water. The whole experience was a beautiful chaos that taught me valuable lessons.


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