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“We need to reach there by 5.30″ argued my friend.
I thought 5.30 was too early to reach there that too under this scorching June sun. I suggested we reach there by 6.30 and explained the logic behind it.
He laughed out hard at my very general knowledge. After a few minutes(when he stopped laughing) he enlightened me that all this bazaar thing comes alive only in early morning hours of friday and that too mostly between 4.30 to 6.30. That meant we need to wake up at 4. It was like a bombshell for a lazy lad like me who thinks its too early when you wake up @ 8 in morning. I asked him twice, thrice and there was no change in his answer. He kept on repeating it and asked (ordered) me to wake up the next day at 4 in the morning. I was like Hell no! Who’ll sacrifice his lovely midnight sleep for a pair of jeans. But then thought of getting a levis, spyker jeans for 250 bucks made me give a long thought at it. I pondered for a while and gave a nod in agreement. So here was I , all set for visiting this 150 year old flea market very well known as chor bazaar.
Next day I woke up with the alarm(the first time when I used my cell for that reason and also the first time when I woke up without the typical dejavu situation where my mom is screaming at me to wake me up and dad is cursing her for the extra affection showered upon me. According to him, my mom was at fault for my outstanding punctuality in waking up. Quite long, eh?) Coming back to the track, I freshened up and gave a missed call to my friend. In return all I could get was a missed call just of 0.125 milliseconds. With all kindness and generosity, I CALLED him again and it was decided to reach our meeting point in 5 minutes. So, according to the norms, I donned the worst possible tee shirt and a track-pant and embarked upon this adventurous journey.
A watch flashed 5.20 am as we reached Grant Road Station. I was surprised to see a few groups of guys getting down off the foot-over bridge in half pants (or even just boxers) with bags clasped on their chests. I wondered what was it for which I figured out later. Moving on, as soon as we stepped out of the station a herd of taxi drivers came running at us. We chose to sit in the taxi whose driver had white hairs on his chest ( I figured it out after getting into that taxi). Spitting the red semi-liquid thing out of his mouth , he asked us with a pale expression “Kidhar? Kapda kharidneka hai ki juta?” We meekly replied “Kapda“. And he drove us to an alley where all the other taxi drivers stopped their Ferraris. He instructed us on how to reach the bazaar from there with a free tip to be extra careful. As we progressed down the alley, I felt like entering in a whole new world. Whoa! This place was great, full of life, it was all hustle bustle everywhere. We could see more than a hundred traders, offering anything to everything that could fit on the mat. The alley was bursting with crazy youth scampering around to strike the best deal for jeans, tee shirts, jackets at the cheapest price. We pushed a few guys to have a look at a jeans stall. Great stuff. But as the natural human tendency,we went on moving from one stall to another. Checking out shirts, jerseys, shoes and moving in that crammed street I was delighted to enjoy the dawn in this new area as it shone upon us.
At 6.10 , according to the taxi driver’s instructions we then went to the core Chor Bazaar. Being in the midst of this bazaar I was already elated and the very thought of entering the actual Chor bazaar where they say all the Real Stuff is sold, simply added to my exhilaration. While reaching there a passers shouted at us “Jaldi jao bhai, nahi to sara maal khatam ho jaega“, followed by two more guys telling us to reach there early. I thought this should be the marketing strategy of those traders to allure new people in the locality as they cant advertise on TV ( Imagine watching an advert featuring Harman Baweja and Sneha ullal dancing on music score by pritam promoting this bazaar with lines “Paiye ORIGINAL branded kapde, joote etc. Aapke apne Chor BaZaar me ending with a punch line – CBZ the original.) Running out of patience to hole my eagerness , I started running towards the crowed alleys with my friend singing song whose lyrics read “Daddy mujse bola….. Bhag bhag dk“. Reaching those gullies I found myself in a stampede like condition. There was no option other than pushing hard if you wanted to move on. I could barely see my lower half, and hence in order to safeguard my cell phone I (somehow) put on the music player of my cell with earphone on,which I had already arranged in the train. Yes that is one way to know whether you hate your cell with you.
This place had even more offerings.The traders had lots of things to offer ranging from watches, sunglasses, a huge array of antiques, jewellery, household crockery and cameras. Then there were electronics ranging from televisions, both new and old (including an LCD), washing machines, computer monitors, laptops, juicers, mixers and grinders, irons et al.We were lucky to get our hands on some unseen goodies. Anyone new to this place have been overwhelmed. So were we and hence started looking out for some good bargains.
Obviously its hard to hold yourself back when there are Nike shoes for just 300 bucks and Rado watches for 150. As advised by my friend, we didn’t waste much time in gaping at other things and went searching for jeans & t shirt. By now the bazaar was bulging to the seams. We bought a pair of jeans. I also purchased a tshirt that made my wallet to lie empty in my friend’s bag ( I was too lazy to carry my own bag ). After visiting a few shops we were carrying a pair of tshirt and jeans. Once we had purchased what we desired we then went roaming stall to stall having glances at everything and anything out there. At a shoe stall where the hawker claimed to sell an original Puma for 350 bucks,
As he approached me my gaze was fixed at his bag which seemed to be in half open condition. I quickly asked him to check for our wallets.
Bang on! We were pick pocketed. Holy shit! I stood frozen then and there itself. Keeping all the calm I could, I started recollecting things.
Yes I had my (not so happening)college id, library card, bus and train pass, some keys, sim cards in the wallet. The only thing to my relief was it didn’t contain my debit card. I thanked God for making me keep my debit card at home while leaving for this place. Suddenly all the excitement and enthusiasm died down. I could only thank God for letting this happen only after I bought what I wanted. We figured out the reason for everybody having their bags clasped to their chests.
A few minutes before I wanted to visit each and every stall out there, but now I felt like leaving that place that moment itself. After loitering for a little while we started walking out of the crowd. So were everyone else and even the traders. It felt as if the they were waiting only for us to get robbed. I later came to know it was a pack up time for the bazaar. We traveled back to the station in silent mode. At the station we burst out laughing over that situation and for that poor Chor who, at the expense of risk taken could only manage my empty wallet ( Yeah my friends wallet remained untouched).
Maybe that’s why they say its not only a Chor bazaar but also a Chor’s bazaar.