Our sojourn around Purani Dilli was drawing to a stop, and I had to make the most of it. After coming out of the streets crammed with historic Havelis, I decided to try my hand at some shopping. After all, what is the point of being in Old Delhi and coming back empty handed? So, after we emerged on to the main street again, we quickly adjusted our eyes to the glaring sunlight and hailed a rickshaw – a charming cycle powered buggy that could take you a ride to the medieval times and back. All for the princely sum of 30 INR.
I asked my ‘chauffeur’ to take me to the spice market. This market has lanes upon lanes of spices and you can walk endlessly, stopping only to gawk at the sight of earthy hued spices in larger than life containers. As my daughter and I disembarked, we were instantly met with the smell of these spices, brimming over with their exotic pull. We stepped closer to the shops and began to examine the ware. And sitting there among the spices, we also found various kinds of tea sourced from various parts of the country, being sold at affordable wholesale prices. People were milling around to stock up for the festive season, for a wedding in the family, for treasures to take from their trip in India – this place did not merely have spices of all kinds. It also had people of all kinds, as I quickly realised.
After a few purchases, we made our way towards the main street and reached a well known market known as Kinari Bazaar. Now, if you are a keen do it yourselfer, with a penchant for the delicate exotic beauty of gold coloured and rhinestone encrusted borders, this lane is a must see. Just across from the Town Hall, where I found a young man diligently feeding the pigeons (this? I do this everyday, he informed me), this lane is partly hidden. A few quick questions will lead you there.
As we entered the market, we had to adjust our eyes again to the gleaming treasures. Fabric, borders, turbans, bric a brac and much fun was to be found. My little one wanted to buy the entire street, and after much negotiation, I managed to get away with minimum damage to my wallet.
A few pretty borders and a cool turban later, we found ourselves face to face with a trio of college goers. These three were on a photo walk and quite blatantly enamoured with Chandini Chowk. The two boys insisted that they were being ragged by the young elfin grace lady, who could only grin mysteriously.
I wished the three all the very best and carried on. Right outside this market, we found a well known food vendor selling hot Jalebis. Breakfast finally happened as we rubbed shoulders with the foreigners and tourists milling around for a bite of the famed dish.
Once we were done washing our sticky fingers (note to self: carry extra wet tissues for such trips), we made our way to the final bazaar at the mouth of Chandini Chowk. Bhagirath Palace is well known as the market of lights. All kinds of lamps and lighting greeted us here as we unravelled the latest technology and electronics on sale at throwaway prices. We were assured that nothing was from China, but I decided to simply gawk and come away.
As the car pulled away from Chandini Chowk, I did a quick salute and decided that it had a been a morning I would never forget. My daughter said, “I wish we could stay a little while longer.” Driving away, we found that the Sunday bazaars of books had started their chaotic existence on Darya Ganj. I looked at the books wistfully and almost asked the driver to stop. But then, I thought, the smell of Purani Dilli still on me, books another day!