Mumbai Diary

Shopping in Mutton Street – Mumbai’s flea market or Chor Bazaar.

 To market to market

There was a time in my life when Anna Shetty gave piano lessons to two Korean children. While the children learnt music, their mother Nam Ju, brushed up her conversational English with me. We spoke about many things – our daily lives, the cities that we lived in and a whole host of other things.
During one of our conversations, she expressed a desire to visit the flea market or chor bazaar. She couldn’t believe that there was a place where stolen goods were sold so openly on the streets ! Many of her friends had picked up beautiful collectibles from there and she wanted to pick up some too.
Image for Chor Bazar
An antique porcelain figurine

That’s how we planned a trip to the flea market .

Several times we  had made a plan to visit,  only to  cancel at the last moment with excuses such as  – “My daughter is not well, The driver hasn’t come” from her end and  ” Something has happened at the last moment and I can’t make it” from mine.

Image for Chor Bazar
             Glass handis and antique lamps

 

Finally we did make it!

As I picked her up, Nam Ju had her apprehensions. It was a hot and muggy day and she was already wilting before we stepped into her air conditioned car.

She cheerfully pulled out a disposable surgical mask and showed me with glee how she was prepared for the onslaught of germs and bacteria. She also pointed out a set of fresh clothes to change into should she get drenched in sweat .

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.

 Mutton Street -Mumbai’s flea market

The street gets its name from the original  shops that sold meat. Today although you may see the odd goat, tied up by its owner as it is fattened for Id, but the street is now, 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 almost 11.30 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. 

 Walking down memory lane

Nam Ju was fascinated by the shops  and actually showed interest in some . She loved the brightly coloured Handis we saw at Taherally’s and the brass stand alone reproduction lamp at Al Anwar’s. The shopkeepers themselves were quite transparent about the “newness” of their wares . They told us that much of their stuff was not genuine antique but actually reproductions or imitations of the original. And most of the stuff wasn’t stolen – instead they were old things sold by their owners when they moved on to smaller apartments.
Along the way we passed a vendor of old laces and sari borders, lots of porcelain knobs, tiles and enamel advertisements. A shop that particularly fascinated me was Bollywood Bazar where Wahid sold genuine Lobby Cards of Hollywood movies , posters of old Hindi movies, vinyl records and all kinds of movie memorabilia. This is a dream for movie memorabilia buffs.

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 pieces in any way we wanted – distressed, metallised or just plain varnish.

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 Aladdin’s cave.

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

Shops worth visiting

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!

Shopping tips

  • Chor Bazaar is closed on Fridays
  • Take a cab instead or get dropped off at Null Bazar because Pay & Park doesn’t exist over here.
Chor Bazaar has changed over the years: it has become cleaner and more organised. The shop keepers insist that you can take a car as  shops that  pour out into the streets are fined. Though the streets are not spotless, the shops are less higgeldy piggeldy . There are a few goats but no stray dogs around.  The street smells less smelly and the shopkeepers can spot a genuine buyer a mile off. They don’t  fawn over and pester passers by to step inside and “just see madam”.
 Image for Mumbai's chor bazaar
Happy Shopping!
Image for BellyBytes

Author: Bellybytes

Proud Mumbai gal who always sees the humour in life. The mum who made banana fritters when all the other mums made cupcakes.

3 Comments on “Shopping in Mutton Street – Mumbai’s flea market or Chor Bazaar.

  1. Thanks for writing such a good Article writing on this mutton street. Really impressed with your ways of article writing with this depth.Furniture specially carved wooden furniture is first need for an interior decoration and home decoration. For home decoration it is always in demand and people enjoy the items with style.

  2. Hey, that was such an interesting post, Sunita! I heard of Chor bazaar from my dad who knows Mumbai like the back of his hand. And, I used to wonder what sort of a place it must be! Will it be an adventure visiting that place, as I imagine?
    I would love to give it a visit someday. 🙂
    Shilpa Gupte recently posted…5 ways your body changes after 40.My Profile

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