City Hangout – Morning Market, Chitli Qabar
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
All sorts of colors and curiosities spring up along the street, with shoppers and sellers engaging in a most comely harmony. This has to be Delhi’s dreamiest and most eclectic pavement market. When so many visitors come to Old Delhi for its monuments, cuisines and street life, it is astonishing that this pavement market isn’t featured in any guidebook.
According to one seller, it has been functioning since the 1950s. So see, it is a historic landmark too.
The bazar is located in the Walled City’s Chitli Qabar neighbourhood. Every day, hawkers claim the pavements from the early hours of the morning, decking their many stalls with their many specialities. The entire way is clouded with impressions of all kinds, as if one were walking through a fairy tale. To list just some of the bazar sellers and what they sell is like reading that famous episode of the Iliad, in which Homer catalogues the ships and warriors of the Achaean army.
Gulfam is selling ice. Bhure Khan is selling plastic dastarkhan — dining mats for people who dine on the floor. Muhammed Ismail is selling frocks. Aamir is selling serving trays. Anish is selling a variety of unconnected things such as ear buds, wipers, kitchen lighters and combs. Muhammed Waseem is selling glass bangles. Shaad is selling boxes of “pasta masala” and “chocolate facial kit.” Nadeem is selling bedsheets. Muhammed Ismail is selling “sleeves of ladies kurtas.” Aashiq is selling track suits. Rashiq is selling “ladies suits.” Muhammed Mustakeem is selling plastic flowers. Qumar Ahmad is selling pencil boxes. Rabab is selling kitchen utensils. Ajmal is selling “ladies bra.” Iftikhar Ahmad is selling plastic bags. Mukhtar Ahmad is selling laces. Raees is selling hand bags. Vipin is selling many kinds of cello tapes. Mukeem is selling “ladies palazzos.” Rizwan is selling diapers. Muhammed Yunus is selling clocks. Muhammed Sawib is selling hairpins. Tak Shah is selling mirrors…
The bazar closes by 11 am, when the shops and showrooms lining the street open their shutters, and the hawkers are required to clear the way. The magic then ends and the street starts looking like any street.
Bargains of fantasy