Sunday Shopping On A Shoestring
Here, it is not as quiet as Sunday morning. Even before the day dawns people make a beeline for this place and make purchases. The market is said to have been selling from pin to plane. The market has a real long history dating back to the decade of 40s. The bazaar started with few shopkeepers—now the figure has swollen to a whopping 1874 number. The history of this market opposite, the Red Fort, Delhi, popularly known as Kabadi Bazaar, has many folds with many a new saga unfolding its journey—through tough times it withstood, but no permanent place for these hawkers so far. Altered through many alterations and moved places and kept shuttling between Subhash Park Opposite the Red Fort and Power House near Rajghat.
In 1942, started at Ajmeri Gate with few shops selling scrap and worn-out clothes it ran for years then moved to Shaaz ka Talaab. It has been pitched on Sundays to get its name.
A few years later staggering through the lanes and by-lanes, it moved down to Chawri Bazaar and the Delhi belly. Surviving several such storms in 1955 it stayed on the historical Jama Masjid’s steps and its surroundings for some time, but again the arrival of Meena Bazaar elbowed the bazaar out to Subhash Park, Kasturba Hospital with shopkeepers numbering around 250 then. In 1982, it had to go sprawling more than a kilometer’s length behind the Red Fort on Ring Road for some good years, then it was driven away to sit near Indira Gandhi Stadium (Rajghat) close to Delhi Government secretariat with around 1800 shops, out of which around 1400 were permitted with their identity cards that authenticated their place there. Then once again they had to wrap up from there as CWG arrived and packed the bazaar off to the same old place, Subhash Park and it’s been there ever since.
Shop amidst hawking and haggling
Also known as itwaari bazaar it starts at the crack of dawn with varieties of everything—you name it and here it comes, only in this market, and that too at cheaper rates. It has everything available in this market from sports equipment, shoes, clothes, carpets to antique items of furniture. Sometimes you never know what you end up buying. It’s the best bargain if you haggle about the price.
This makeshift market at Subhash Park has begun to pull a huge crowd from all corners of the city. Things dirt cheap is the USP. Besides the brand stuff, rare and foreign articles attract many to make it to the market again and gradually it becomes an addiction.
Six to six
This bazaar of tehbazaari opens its day at around 6 with the first beam of the sun and warms up as the sun rides on and calls it a day at sun dip. Hostlers and day-boarders living on a shoestring rub their eyes off sleep and catch the crème-de-la-crème of the thing before the crowd thickens.
It is more than a bazaar as it satiates your taste buds with lots of makeshift eateries, selling hot chhole bhatura, rajma chawal with cold nimbu paani to wash the throat down, also cha and juice (sugarcane) at the ready.
Mostly, sports freaks and students of all age groups both from Delhi and the adjoining states haunt the shopping joint in hordes and they go shopping till their bags are full. Besides those fitness freaks and sports persons, even families come to buy things to do up their homes. Even electronic gadgets like i-Pads, cameras and lappies are pretty handy and wallet friendly too. If you have not studied the mood of the market you might get fleeced, watch out!
If you are fond of watches, this market has the likes of Khaleel and Karmveer as they are believed to have been into this profession for decades. Omega, Tag, Tissot, Rado and the like but at the same time there are plenty of copy cats selling fakes and replicas of such chic brands and many get skinned.
“We hunt hard ways for different and exclusive things to sell here in the market as we have customers from other states as well. We purchase at the auction, from the airport, embassies’ discarded junk, bunglowwallahs vacating their abode before moving abroad. Besides, a bit of stolen articles are also brought here to be sold. Customers make a beeline too early of the day and do loads of shopping,” says Jameel-ur-Rehman, president of the market.
Shoeb Sarvar, an old shopkeeper, has been selling satchels, backpacks and laptop bags. “I’ve all imported and branded bags as students come and demand them. I sell 40 to 50 bags,” he reveals.
As if the whole Italy and US had descended on this market, all foreign brands such as Gags, Cat, Gasoline, Timberland and Armani are on display. From snickers and trainers to loafers to trekking boots to flip-flops to sandals are right here on this sidewalk.
“I have been pretty regular. It’s sort of addiction you just cannot do without. You never know what you want to buy and what finally end up doing. It’s healthy for those wanting to spend frugally,” affirms Pankaj, a fitness instructor.
Book Bazaar at Patri
A place, one takes a note while sauntering down the pavement of Darya Ganj more precisely near Golcha cinema, turns into a serpentine lane brimful of books, only on Sundays. It is a Mecca for bibliophiles. This one kilometre-long bazaar stretching with hundreds of book-sellers catches students studying medicine, fashion, computer, literatures, music etc.
The bazaar also happens to be brimming with books in Indian and English literature in abundance—from Mahadevi Verma, Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Munshi Premchand to Vikram Seth, VS Naipaul and Salman Rushdie. From fiction to classics anything, you don’t have to shell out much. Delhi Univerisity’s lots—Stephenians, Hinduites and others—trawl the market, JNUites and the students from MCRC, Jamia frequent the place more often than not. If you have a special flavour for fiction and classics you can swim through the stream—from Mills & Boons, Agatha Christie, Sidney Sheldon, Jeffery Archer, Robert Ludlum to Homer, Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Dostoevsky, George Eliot and William Shakespeare, anything you can pick for a song, haggling is the device to wrestle with and get yourself the best purchase.
Besides textbooks, notes like Ramjilal and Raghubir Tilak come pretty handy. Magazines such as Time, Economist, Newsweek and the like can be picked at throwaway prices. Stationery that comprise pens, folders, notepads, registers, office files, envelopes, carry bags, satchels and diaries are dirt cheap.
This market sprawls from Dilli Gate, MTNL shoving its way down through Golcha Cinema to Moti Mahal till the end of Shubhash Park. It opens at around 9:30 in the morning and wraps up at dusk.
By Syed Wazid Ali From New Delhi