It was from a friend that I first heard about the Chor Bazar in Mumbai. First I was surprised. A market for the robbers! The name attracted me enough that I decided to pay a visit to the market.
Even though Chor Bazar it situated around 5 kms from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj terminus, it took me more than an hour to reach here. The rush, heat and a hubbub Marathi song in a local taxi, felt one hour like one day.
When the driver warned me to take care of my purse while descending from the vehicle, I was a little scared. I entered the market repeatedly fetching my pocket for my phone and wallet which contained the money that I had taken from ATM.
The Chor Bazar was earlier known as the Shor Bazar indicating the noise there. The British had difficulty in pronouncing the word Shor which resulted them saying Chor and gradually the market attained the name Chor Bazar. Also the thieves depend on this market to sell the stolen items and it resulted in the name. There exists an axiom that ‘if anything goes missing in Mumbai, it can be seen at Chor Bazar’. After the buildup given by the driver and friend, I was a little anxious as I entered the streets. ‘Mutton street’ attracted me. Roaming big goats and the numerous butcher shops are seen here.
Rather than saying it as the market of robbers, it is better to say that Chor Bazar is the largest second-hand market in Mumbai today. There is nothing that can’t be bought from here. Craft items, antiques, automobile parts, electronic items…and what more.
Whatever you want, Chor Bazar provides you. The most attractive is the antiques. Old clocks, statues, gramophones and lamps will amaze you. Most of the items are made of terracotta. In electronics, there is high demand for mobile phones. Smart phones are available from Rs 3000. But there is no guarantee or warranty. No one can say whether these items are stolen or not. If that doesn’t worry you, Chor Bazar is the place for you.
The most unique stores in Chor Bazar is those that sell movie posters. The original posters of old Bollywood movies and its copies can be obtained from Haji Abu’s shop. The cost varies depending on the movie you select. Some other stores sell Hollywood movie posters. Most of the people reach here demanding the James Bond movie posters.
If you are planning to buy anything from the Chor bazar, you should have the ability to bargain. If not, you will be fooled. If the selling price they quote is Rs 100, you should start with Rs 10. Then the item can be obtained at Rs 40. This is the system here.
Even though most of the sellers speak basic English, if you don’t speak Mumbai Hindi or Marathi, the chances for you to be deceived are higher.
If you want to visit the stores and shops in the market, it is better to avoid the market visit on Fridays. Huge crowd will flock the market on Fridays as sidewalk vendors take the stage.
(Published in 'Yathra' magazine in 2018 October)