Sunday, March 12, 2017

A walk in Chor Bazaar, Mumbai

Many big urban cities around the world have real markets where you get cheap stuff, replicas and some genuine treasures. Mumbai too has its own such flea market; the Chor Bazaar. It is off Sardar Vallabhai Patel Marg, which itself starts from Opera House, south Mumbai, runs past Harkisondas Hospital (now Reliance Foundation Hospital) and then goes on to meet the J.J. Flyover. The SVP Marg was earlier known as Sandhurst Road. If you go down straight this road, past the JJ Flyover, right down this road till the end and then turn left, you will reach Sandhurst Road railway station; India's first- and possibly the world's- split level railway station. This means that few platforms (No.1 and 2, in this case) are at ground level and the remaining (platforms No.3 and 4) are at an elevated level or a bridge.

Coming back to SVP Patel road, go to Gol Deval (round temple). This was earlier a temple as a roundabout but over time the authorities added the extension and made it look like a boat and less of a roundabout. Take a look at the building just diagonally opposite to the temple, right opposite to Null Bazaar. Look at the top. You'll notice a bust. It is of King George V who landed in Bombay in 1911 at the Gateway of India. It is said that he came to this road and the bust atop this building was in his honour. 

We hit the Mutton Street and start walking inside. It's a place of nostalgia. You find all sorts of things; antiques, artefacts, paraphernalia, furniture, posters, decor items, and every other item you'd have probably seen in yours or your grandparents' home, growing up. But not everything is what it seems. Rajan Jayakar, the legal luminary and our guide for this Intach Heritage Walk, Mumbai, told us that 60% of the items you get at Chor Bazaar "was manufactured yesterday, but you can't usually tell the difference." Jayakar is an expert at collecting artefacts and there are very few like him who know what you can get where at Chor Bazaar without being taken for a ride. 

Naturally there are items original available that have either been restored or in same condition as they were sold by their original owners. The Bohra trust nearby is now said to be buying out the area and Chor Bazaar is diminishing in size and a large section would soon vanish. That's a pity; a part of Mumbai's heritage would soon be wiped out. Yet, Jayakar tells us, some portions of Chor Bazaar would continue to live on. Hopefully, for generations.  

 A candle flame blower. A good device for us Zoroastrians who worship fire as the symbol of our Lord Ahura Mazda. We aren't supposed to blow out candles as there is a chance of our saliva or traces touching the fire.  

 Brass cutlery 

 There is no better place that Chor Bazaar if you wish to collect original posters of old Hindi movies and other movie memorabilia

An old bell that was once used in a ship / steamer. You'll also find compass and other sailor memorabilia if you wish

This shop sells old phones that are now antique (before the push button phones were came) and also new phones manufactured yesterday but look like old models. 

An old transistor radio 

Where else you can get old LP (Long Play) records that you could play on LP record players, other than Chor Bazaar! Ofcourse, you could still find some in old Parsi homes in spick-and-span condition, but never ask a bawa if he wishes to sell them! 

An ancient fan that runs on kerosene

A world clock that is on sale. Price? Rs.1 crore. It is in working condition I am told 

 You would remember these old type switches and regulators from your childhood days

An old Analogue Taxi meter that is now an antique 

A traditional room separating apparatus 

A gigantic cupboard. Or as Rajan Jayakar, our guide, puts it: "A one BHK (Bedroom-Hall-Kitchen) cupboard!"

The roof of an old-styled wooden cupboard 

Casablanca poster 

Left: A jug and dish to wash your hands.  Centre: A large-sized jar and its exact replica in small-size. Both the items are original though.

Lobby cards of old Bollywood movies. In olden days, cinema halls used to put up lobby cards (pictures of scenes from movies that were currently playing) in the corridors leading up to the cinema hall. You could find many original lobby cards as well as movie posters at Chor Bazaar 

A beautiful door handle

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