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Shopping & More – The Great Eastern Store

Teak wood entrance

Yesterday I spent one of the most fascinating mornings shopping . Situated right in the middle of the city, behind the walls of the crumbling New Great Eastern Mills on Dr. Ambedkar Road is a fascinating store quite unlike any I’ve seen in Mumbai so far.

In fact we overshot the gate and had to go a few yards in reverse before we entered the compound. I was a bit sceptical and could sense Namuj’s wariness as we passed gnarled trees and ramshackle buildings. It felt more like a visit to the Temple of Doom rather than a high end store selling high end antiques and reproductions. However, we persisted and were relieved to find a semblance of civilisation as we knew it when we came upon the actual compound housing the store. We were directed to a bright yellow building with a wooden canopied entrance.

The gnarled roots of a tree:
the perfect backdrop for a stone statue
Moroccan lantern

When I first told Namju that we had to go to Byculla near the Zoo, she was quite astonished. So was I actually because I never imagined such a gem could be so close to a Zoo! And this shop is not just one shop but actually three shops under one sky and within one compound. 70,000 square feet of beautiful furniture to browse through in air conditioned comfort. And to top it all you have an attendant to answer your every question!

We entered unsure of what to expect and were simply amazed by the aesthetic assault. It was like entering Alladin’s Cave. Morano chandeliers and Moroccon lanterns, oil paintings  and antique jewerly mounted on the wall, mirrors, rugs,  furniture  and antique glass ware, sharing a space that was easy to move around in.

French Piano

We had planned on spending just an hour but didn’t realise that we had  spent more than 2 as we browsed around ! Amidst Chinese camphor chests, porcelain tea cups and china ware, we found an antique French piano in burled wood polished to mirror finish.  There was a photo shoot going on and I took advantage of the superior lighting especially since my own camera was playing up and providing colours that didn’t exist – shadows and shades of pink and blue!  While Namju was looking out for a show case, I was just looking around for fun and I was fascinated by the baby chairs sitting atop a sideboard and a complete bar ready find its place in someone’s house!

The bar
Baby chairs
waiting for the photo shoot

Lovingly restored, some of the pieces were actual antiques while several were reproductions made with a high level of craftsmanship. I loved wandering through the different spaces : this was quite unlike the visit to Chor Bazaar with its manic energy and  heat and dust. Here, you could feel a sense of calm and peace with each building having a new kind of energy. I specially loved the last one which we entered through a blue tiled doorway. As we stepped inside and wandered through, I was fascinated by the

Swagged ceiling

white cotton  swags hanging from the high ceiling in the last room which harked back to the halycon days of Great Eastern’s textile past.

For anyone interested in antiquing in clean surroundings, this is the place to go to.

Unishta

A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!

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