Trousseau shopping is getting as unfashionable as marriage these days. Young people openly flaunt their relationships smack in their parents’ faces. They care two hoots about approval or appearances. They fly frequently flying around the world to be with each other and even attend events as couples. It would seem that marriage is only fools or those or who want to become parents . The good thing about this is of course an obvious decrease in population not to mention hundreds of calories and rupees saved in unnecessary wining and dining. It also means that no one shops for a trousseau these days.
But the joys of organising a wedding are something else. 2011 was the happiest year of my life. I literally tramped the streets of Mumbai looking out for band wallahs, priests, florists, caterers, beauticians .
Organising a trousseau
Since Anna Shetty is really petite, she was out sized by pret so her clothes landed up being “bespoke” by default more than design. While I enjoyed sourcing the fabric from shops nearer home to save time I missed shopping at my favourite place – Mangaldas Market , a place so bustling with colour and activity that shopping here literally gives you a high. Seated on plump mattresses covered in clean white sheets, shopkeepers greet you like a long lost friend. Ever so patient with your queries, they tirelessly take out bale after bale of fabric, drape it over their arm, pose a bit and even help you with suggestions of mix and match. Cheek by jowl with narrow lanes separating them, the over 200 shops are a designer’s delight.
The shops are arranged according to their speciality – for instance in the first lane you will find sari vendors, in one lane you will only find dealers in suiting and shirting. Ved’s specialises in fabric for Salvars or”Punjabi Suits”. Some shops like Ruchika, Akanksha Silk, Vinod Collections specialise in silk. There are dupattawallas who have dupattas in every kind of fabric – cutwork, chiffon, crushed silk, pure cotton in different colours. They can also dye plain white to perfectly match your outfit. In the extra lane you will find shops selling the whitest of white embroidered fabric each one better than the next. Bales of linen, wool and pure cotton, shiny satin, fine muslin,pure polyester, fabrics with texture and sequins, prints and traditional weaves, brushed denim, block printed voiles.
[stextbox id=”custom” caption=”You can find any kind of fabric in this place. ” shadow=”false”]
New wares in old mores
I discovered two dupattas in my cupboard that needed outfits to complement them. I decided to go to Mangaldas Market. I set off after lunch and made a quick detour to Contemporary Arts & Crafts, an old Bombay shop now shifted from its Napean Sea Location to a newer larger space in Fort. On the ground floor of the Taj Building on D.N Road I was happy to re-discover this shop. All the merchandise here is made by Indian craftsmen drawing on their traditional skills but with a sensitivity to modern tastes and needs. Thus, you will find decorative trays in Warli or Madhubani designs. Shoppers will be thrilled with their collection of traditionally quilted bed spreads quilted and block printed table mats and cloths . There are woven baskets and floor mats made out of jute and palm leaves, rag rugs and a whole lot more. The store lacks the character of its old self. I thought that there was far too much furniture ( for sale of course) and I got the feeling I was in a godown with the way things were arranged. But I’m sure things will change and the old Contemporary feel will be recaptured in this new space. So do go and visit this old Mumbai staple.
Contemporary Arts and Crafts Ground Floor, Taj Building, Opposite Fort House, Corner of D.N.Road and Wallace Street, Fort, Mumbai 400001 Tel: 022-22821295 Open Mon-Sat: 10.30am to 7.30pm
Finally, the fabric market!
On then, to the timeless Mangaldas Market. Getting off at the legendary Badshah Cold Drink House, I was pleasantly surprised to find the streets relatively clear of the hawkers pouring on to the road. Of course I still had to contend with snapping clothes pegs in my face, swishing polyester antimacassars and cries of “madam madam what you want?”,
Hand carts careered madly and I had to brave the occasional car coming down a street chockablock with people. I went down the main road past A to Z the purveyor of furnishing fabrics, to my target destination. As a matter of curiosity, I enquired about the Yoga mats on the side and was amazed to find them retailing cheaper than those in my neighbourhood stores! I don’t know how non-slip these mats are they are but considering the momentary passion most of us have for exercise, they are worth buying as long as you sustain your interest in that twisted asan for more than a year. Only then is it worth investing in a better and more expensive version from a regular sports shop.
[stextbox id=”grey” caption=”Incidentally, yoga mats retail as high as Rs. 2000 from Reebok.” shadow=”false”]
I entered the market from Ghadial Gully a deviation from my normal entry from Kamlesh’s shop in the 7th Lane. I had a particular fabric in mind and unfortunately couldn’t recall the name of the shop, so I went back and forth and back and forth till I finally found what I was looking for at Neepa Trading. Literally talking to a salesman over a row of customers sitting plonked on the chairs before me, I finally managed to unearth what I wanted – a slightly textured cotton to go with my dupattas . The salesman was really helpful – he not only showed me swatches to help with colours, but actually rolled out bale after bale of what he thought would be the perfect match. Finally ,I left with enough fabric to make what I hoped would be a perfect outfit.
Finding some time on hand, I decided to indulge in my secret passion of wearing white linen pyjama pants. These are perfect for hot, summer days. I visited Yogeshkumar & Brothers , the distributor for Linen Club, Birla’s Century Mills’premium range.
Many vendors sell Linen in this market. Watch out for the polyester version that abounds.
Yogeshkumar keeps his best stuff upstairs in the mezzanine floor, accessed by a narrow, steep staircase on the side. Once there you will be amazed at the stuff he pulls out from a very unimpressive arrangement of fabric. I left the shop happy with my purchase and with a regret that I didn’t have need for more.
Since many shops at Mangaldas Market are wholesalers, the salesmen are wary of retail shoppers who are just “passing time” . Very often their demeanour comes across as rude and dismissive. But if you persist you, will find exactly what you are looking for and even more!
Be prepared to spend at least three to four hours .
Always ask for calling cards from the shops you’ve shopped from so that the next time round things are faster and easier.
Shopping after lunch at 2.30 was chaotic, but an hour later things had eased out and I could literally shop in peace.
The shops open around noon . Many of them are closed during the month of Paryushan which generally comes in the month of July/August.
Here are the addresses of some of my favourite shops:
Address: SHOP NO:14, MANGALDAS MARKET, 7TH LANE,, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
YogeshKumar & Brothers
Address : Shop No-4-5, 7th Lane Mangaldas Market
Phone : 2202 2963
Neepa Trading Co
Address: Shop No 20, 7th Lane, Mangaldas Market
Phone : 2201 0646
p.s.I also visited the furnishing fabric dealers across the road but I’ll deal with that another time!