City Landmark – Bharat Tin Traders, Subzi Mandi
House of rats.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
A rare landmark, you won’t easily find another place like this in most of the the city. This shop in Gurgaon’s Subzi Mandi in the Greater Delhi Region deals exclusively with mousetraps.
“We make metallic choohe dani,” says Kuldeep Verma. This afternoon, the young man is presiding at his little shop filled on all sides with mousetraps, these airy cages with metal bars, in which you are supposed to put a piece of roti or bread hoping that the pesky rat will enter and be trapped inside.
The shop, Bharat Tin Traders, is named after Mr Verma’s father, “and it was started by my father’s father, Shri Moti Lal, 60 years ago.” The founder passed in 2000 but his legacy is doing well, probably thanks to the thriving of rats in our part of the world.
Indeed, Sadar Bazar — of which Subzi Mandi is a part — teems with very many hawkers selling rat poison. Some of these men have carts filled up with powders and pills, and others walk around carrying bags. Usually, huge banners hang around their neck displaying rat drawings in aggressive poses.
The shop is packed with traps of all size, and each happens to have a name, as Mr Verma points out. “That’s family pack, that’s medium chain, that’s short chain, and that’s chhoti burfi…” Chhoti burfi is named so because apparently it looks like… well, chhoti (small) burfi. But pity the household that has to resort to the so-called family pack. Mr Verma laughs at the suggestion, explaining that “it’s usually the big warehouses of grain merchants, or mithai shops that need the family pack choohe daani.” While chhoti burfi suffices for ordinary homes.
All these cages are made directly under his family’s supervision, Mr Verma says. So far no shopper has arrived but the shopkeeper isn’t perturbed. “Gurgaon is full of rats…. we can never go out of buisness.” He however clarifies his shop is a rat-free zone.
Now a rat poison seller passes by with a huge placard showing a ferocious rat. The man stops by the mousetrap shop and greets the owner, saying, “Ram Ram Babuji.” Both men are professional rivals, vying for the same customers, but right now they are talking extremely cordially to each other, making one believe in the goodness of the rat-filled world.
A necessary trap