City Hangout – Apna Bazar, Gurgaon
The market with a mouthful of sky.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Let’s be clear about this.
Apna Bazar in Gurgaon, in the Greater Delhi Region, is snuggled into a building that’s seen better days.
Even so. The sense of dilapidation gives the place a pleasing if timeworn disposition.
Many storefronts are shuttered. Others mainly deal with electrical appliances such as UPS, stabilizers and emergency lights—all souvenirs from an era when power cuts were a way of life.
Some shops are so crammed with rusting equipment that they seem more like storerooms for diligent collectors. Particularly special is a printer’s workshop featuring one of those metallic printing machines you’ll occasionally spot at the cards market in Old Delhi’s Chawri Bazaar Sadly, the people at the shop declined it to be photographed. The same reluctance towards the camera is shared by the owner of The Print Care. His shop window is picturesquely lined with bottles of “toner refilling.”
Highlighting the market’s building is its ramshackle courtyard, now used as a parking lot for bikes. But there’s a certain charm nonetheless; perhaps the way the sun shines down upon it, making it far brighter than the market itself.
The courtyard does attract pigeons who easily find a small platform with grains scattered across it. The space also offers a sweeping view of Apna Bazaar’s habitat—tea stall, sweeper, a black dog and a bored shopkeeper glumly standing by the balustrade.
“It’s not a fashion mall but it is homelier and those who come here more than once get addicted to it,” says tea stall owner Manveer Singh Negi who has been in the market for 20 years. The complex is also home to an astrologer’s office and a wildly popular chhole-kulche stall.
Stepping away from the market, the calm it induces can instantly evaporate. Apna Bazar becomes nostalgia.
A pickled existence