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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Mutton Street - Mumbai's flea market or Chor Bazar.

It never ceases to amaze me how things only happen when they are meant to happen.

Nam Ju and I had long been planning a trip to Chor Bazaar. Ever since she'd heard about the antiques available here, Nam Ju has been curious about this famous flea market of Mumbai. Several times  we'd made a plan only to have them cancelled at the last moment - "My daughter is not well, The driver hasn't come" from her end while I had my excuses too " Something has happened at the last moment and I can't make it" being the most common one.

So finally when we fixed up to go this morning, Nam Ju had her apprehensions. When I picked her up, she cheerfully pulled out a single use surgical mask and showed me with glee that she was prepared for the onslaught of germs and bacteria . I was a bit stunned - surely my city is not that bad?? But knowing the foreigners' paranoia, I held my counsel and we proceeded through this hot and humid city to Mutton Street.

The street gets its name from the fact that once upon a time it used to have shops that sold meat. Today although you may see the odd goat, the street is the place to browse for "antiques".

Approaching it from Gol Deval we got off Null Bazaar and went down Mutton Street aka Chor Bazaar. It was round about 11.30 when we reached but there was not a shopper in sight. I was actually beginning to get worried when I asked a shop keeper why the place was so deserted. "The season was down" , he told me and in fact this was the best time to buy anything. 
Nam Ju was fascinated by the shops we visited and actually showed interest in a few. She loved the brightly coloured Handis we saw at Taherally's and the brass stand alone reproduction lamp we saw at Al Anwar's. The shopkeepers themselves were pretty up front about the "newness" of their wares and made no bones about the fact that most of the stuff was not a genuine antique. 

Along the way we passed a vendor of old laces and sari borders, lots of old knobs, tiles and enamel advertisements. A shop that particularly fascinated me was Bollywood Bazar where Wahid had genuine Lobby Cards of Hollywood movies , posters of old Hindi movies, vinyl records and all kinds of stuff.

At Karachi Gift store we found some interesting pieces of furniture and the lady in charge said that she was willing to finish off the piece in any way we wanted - distressed, metallised or just plain varnish.




 Masks and statues animals in wood
marble and bronze were a plenty in this shop near Taherally's.



Outside one of the curio shops near Taherally's ( I gave Nam Ju the card so I don't have the exact address), we saw two foreigners sitting in front of an urli. Nam Ju was interested in buying one so we went inside. Following the advice of one of the ladies we went further and further inside the shop to find that we were three rooms deep of masks and statues and boxes and all kinds of fascinating stuff. This shop is definitely worth visiting because it is a veritable Aladin's cave.  
Al Anwar LampShop ( oil lamps, electric lamps & wall lamps
121 Mutton Street, Bhendi Bazar Mumbai 400003
Tel : 2345 5087

Taherally's ( chandeliers, light fittings, silver ware, paintings, curios and wooden furniture)
28 Mutton Street Mumbai 400003
Tel : 2347 1169

Bollywood Bazar (Vintage Bollywood & Hollywood memorabilia, Posters, Lobby cards, Photo Stills & Booklets)
38 Mutton Street, Mumbai 400003
Tel : 2347 2427

Karachi Gift Stores
102 Mutton Street, Khara Tank Road Shop No4
Tel : 2347 2646
email : tapaswiarts@gmail.com



The two hours went by so fast that Nam Ju didn't realise that she had forgotten to wear her mask. She also didn't  change into the fresh set of clothes she'd brought along just in case she needed to!

Chor Bazar is closed on Fridays and even though one of the shop keepers assured me that you could take a car now that the shop keepers were contained inside the shops and were fined if they poured out into the streets, I would strongly recommend you don't. Take a cab instead or get dropped off at Null Bazar because Pay & Park doesn't exist over here.

Chor Bazar has changed over the years: it has become cleaner and more organised. Even though the streets are not spotless, the shops aren't as higgeldy piggeldy as they used to be. With just a few goats and no stray dogs around, the street is less smelly and the shopkeepers have become smart - they can spot a genuine buyer a mile off and don't  fawn over and pester passers by to step inside and "just see madam". So if you have inclination, you can truly enjoy a few hours browsing through the shops on  Mutton Street. 

Happy Shopping!