Spend lazy afternoon hours browsing through the displays of Mumbai and we promise it’ll leave you engrossed. A shopper’s paradise, the city abounds in shops and stores that sell anything and everything ranging from clothes, books and handicrafts to antique pieces. The exuberant city has shops and bazaars not only in its uptown areas but on pavements too.
Bindiya Chotrani tells you more about a shopper’s utopia so that you can shop until you drop.
The Mumbai shopper’s knight in shining Armour, Bandra, is one of the most posh areas of the city where the elite citizens reside. And it is the flamboyant mega stores with major brands that appeal to them. Well, but with linking road in the vicinity, the patrons here are more than happy too pass off these major brands and move on to the kitsch wares being touted here. The place is complete with thronging crowds who are wanting to strike a quick bargain in the lively milieu and buy some pretty cotton apparels, totes or jootis in fun, neon colours that channel their bohemian spirit. Although we suggest you sharpen those negotiation skills when dealing with them. Begin at a third of their prices and do not pay more than half of what they have quoted. You’ll crack atleast one good deal when there, we say.
Aptly named, fashion street is a fashion centre in the true sense. Right from footwear, to clothes, there is absolutely no way on earth you would not be touted by vendors when here. Although, this is one market that houses more paraphernalia for men than women. A vibrant flea market, Fashion Street is a shopper’s Eden, with most of the shops being dilapidated buildings, with traces of Gothic architecture.
Now, what may not be known is that the place was initially called shor bazaar, meaning noisy market, but with the Britishers reigning over us and mispronunciations to their credit the place came to be known as chor bazaar and stayed. Illegal and stolen goods found its way to the market, vindicating the new name of the market. Initially a market where stolen goods were sold, today Chor Bazaar is full of shops selling some real, but mostly fake antiques, paintings, and knick-knacks. The area is full of shopaholics rummaging for goods at throwaway prices and crumbling buildings that could be a little overwhelming. Don’t be daunted though, since the place is quite safe except for the pick-pocketers. The shops in Chor Bazaar are open every day except on Fridays when the chor bazaar turns into an exciting and awe-inspring Juma Market that sells everything you have possibly dreamt of. As you wander under the awnings, with the backdrop of the mosque and the sound of prayer, you almost feel like you’re in an Egyptian or Arabian souk. Prices at Chor Bazaar are very fluid and will depend on how good your bargaining skills are (or aren’t!). The usual tips for bargaining at India’s markets apply with savvy shopkeepers that quote ridiculously high prices to unsuspecting tourists.
Now when most markets offer memorable shopping experiences, the one at Crawford market offers heritage as well. A very interesting blend of English architecture and local flavours, this market is close to a 150 years old and was named after Sir Author Crawford, the first municipal commissioner of Mumbai. Though renamed to Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Market, many still prefer calling it the Crawford market. The place is a favourite when wanting to buy fruits, vegetables and meat.
Listing down places that let you avail of a good bargain, and not having colaba causeway on the list? Only means that you aren’t a passionate shopper! Spend time trolling the streets of Colaba Causeway – or what many call the Suckers Mile – for everything from silver jewelry and pashminas to kohlapuri slippers and fake antiques, presuming you know how to haggle already. While the larger stores happily welcome MasterCard, Visa and naive tourists with a “No Bargaining” sign and a smile, make sure you have liquid cash on you when dealing with these vendors. We suggest it is best to visit here with a local, who can help bring prices down by fistfuls of rupees.