Sunday, December 14, 2008

Delhi's Bizarre Bazzars

Text and Images: Sameer

Sandwiched between the imposing Delhi civil secretariat and Mahatma Gandhi’s mausoleum is a dusty chunk of land where all bootleggers of the world meet on Sunday. So for a change if you don’t want to blow your bucks in an upscale mall, the place to go is Delhi’s original Chor Bizzare [The market of the thieves]. I have always been fascinated by the name of the place. Why don’t the cops catch them, I asked my pals when I first heard about it many years back. Welcome to the adult’s weird piazza, came a prompt answer.

Chor Bizzare is a flea market where scraggy people get together – every weekend -- to haggle their wares. There is everything you can think of. Car-tyres. Fake chocolates. Redone stuff. Pirated CDs. Imitation watches. Nuts and bolts. Duplicate labels. Second hand rugs. Phony daggers. Counterfeit counters selling computers. In between, if you have a keen eye and know where to look, you may as well get your hands on an original. The catch is: Bargain hard. Everything is available at throw-away prices. If the shady salesman quotes a prize, immediately slash it to half and then begin by offering to pay a further Rs 50 less. It works. Actually.

I don’t know how the place got its rather quirky name. I don’t quite think people sell only pilfered wares at Chor Bizzare although some of the stuff may be purloined. A few pairs of shoes, sold at dirt cheap prices, looked original without a dot of imagination. Old timers recall that the market used to be set up around Red fort but was eventually moved to its present location by the police.

Frequented by the have-nots, students, curious and the sundry, Chor Bizzare is worth a visit. Pity I returned with only a layer of dust on my coiffure.


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