Chalai Bazaar Road in Trivandrum, Kerala's "capital", is an experience in itself. It is lined with shop after shop spewing out onto the narrow road. There is a huge number of gold merchants and shops selling household items, basic hardware, flowers, vegetables, scents and incense, textiles and clothes shops, paint, plastic utensils, snacks, medicines, ... but no luxury items. There are shops that sell metal and there are Metal Markets. The latter are not what they sound - you don't go there for sheet copper or lead pping. They're where you buy containers like the one here, but in every conceivable shape and size. From pots less than 50mm in diameter to bowls greater than 1500mm in diameter, no exaggeration. Made in aluminium, tin, pressed steel and brass, the range is quite staggering. At the weekend I wandered into one of the smaller shops. On the counter lay a three year-old child, sound asleep. I eventually selected the container pictured (it's just for boiling water in). When I went to pay for it I was amazed that the owner popped it on the scales, got out a calculator and worked out that I owed her Rs68! This is also precisely what they do in the gold merchants where they will put a necklace or bangle on the scales to cost it. Only for the very fancy ones do they take into account the workmanship.
Incidentally, I brought the pepper and salt mills with me from the UK because I couldn't remember seeing them in the shops. The reason could be the high humidity here. The salt mill has become unusable because salt is hydrophilic or whatever the word is - it attracts water, so the salt crystals are now salt slush! The pepper mill is marginally better but the corns are definitely on the soggy side.