While visiting the Christian Medical College & Hospital, two of us skipped out one day and visited the local market. Shocked the clerk at the hotel front desk asked us two or three times if we would rather visit the more touristy markets, but we were determined.
At first we started out on a main street and were a bit disappointed, but when my friend pointed down a dark, but promising alley our impression changed dramatically. Once we were fifteen feet down the alley all the color, smells, and culture of India swirled around us in a wonderful, heady mixture. The friendliness of the Indians really showed in their excitement to show us their products and told us what to see next. One young boy spotted my camera when were were still quite far away and shouted until we came his way. Jabbering excitedly he explained that he wanted his picture taken in a dramatic charades. Thrilled by his enthusiasm I snapped quite a few photos and let him show them off to the vendors close by. Many of the vendors insisted on getting their pictures taken and I was obliging. We visited the fresh produce section, the meat market, the spice section, and general services (tailor, metal worker, etc.) All this time the smells of spicey fried crab, fresh made dosas, and fruit filled the air.
The local India market experience is one I highly recommend. That was the moment that the richness of Indian culture showed itself.