Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Friday Market at Chor Bazaar

If you're ever near the JJ Hospital on a Friday afternoon, head for the Juma Market at Chor Bazaar. On Friday, the regular shops at Chor Bazaar close their shutters. Instead, a vibrant street market appears in the narrow lanes, selling everything you can possibly dream of. As you wander under the awnings, with the backdrop of the mosque and the sound of prayer, you feel like you're in an Egyptian or Arabian souk.
I don't know what it is about markets that fascinates me. Perhaps it's the sound of vendors calling out their wares briskly. Or perhaps I just like to watch people as they wander around, idly examining goods, or bargaining in earnest.

This young boy was having a good day, sales were brisk at his little plastic store.

Pencils had to be bought by the dozen, but the prices were half that in regular shops. I wondered where the pencils came from. They said Natraj on them, but I don't think they were genuine.
The Friday Market usually has more men than women. But I spotted several women looking for bargains at footwear shops.
There was a big crowd of people - both men and women - scrambling to buy buttons and thread. Apparently pink is the new black. And blue buttons are hot.

There were no takers for water-proof watches, although their water-proofness was beyond doubt!

It was near lunch time, and big dishes of rice were being cooked on coal fires. Cooking had begun early in the morning; and now the saffron and bay leaf flavoured rice was ready. I was pretty sure there was a layer of mutton below the white rice.

"What's underneath the rice?", I asked anyway.

"Mutton", came the very satisfactory reply.

"Is it ready?", I asked.

"Almost. We only need to add a little ghee on top of it now, and it's done."

I would have stayed to watch the ghee layering, but didn't have much time to spend. So I walked away, photographing everything I saw. A lot of the shops had hardware for sale - nails, hammers, screwdrivers, brushes, and other implements. But I also photographed roller skates, weighing scales, mixies, grinders, music systems, car horns and all sorts of other things. The only thing I didn't photograph was a little shop selling male underwear. It looked like branded underwear, Jockey perhaps, or something similar. The guy had a mike announcing his wares. By the time the announcement came crackling out on the speakers, I couldn't understand a word of what he said. I was quite grateful to be spared my blushes.