Walk in the Bazar

I should have known better. It was crowded, impatient people pushing and jostling. I took my phone out of my trouser pocket and put it in my knapsack, wearing it on my chest, not my back. I was able to zip away my wallet and keys safely. I checked again in five minutes and the phone had disappeared. Luckily I met Kim, one of our nurses at the clinic, on Netaji Subhash Marg and she let me use her phone to report the loss. Hopefully the phone’s SIM will be blocked and I can get a replacement next week. I was thinking of getting a new phone anyway…

I took some interesting photographs. This is a cart full of pomelos, giant grapefruits with very thick skin and pink flesh.


And here is a man with a bicycle cart filled with papayas. At this time of year, they don’t have any black seeds inside. He has cut a window into one of the fruits to demonstrate this. They are resting on a bed of shredded newspaper. When you buy them, they are normally wrapped in newspaper, too.  You can see the rolls of newsprint behind his cycle seat.


This man is selling colourful bed sheets. Forget pastel shades here. Above his right shoulder you can read the sign “All types of altration pent ^ shir” – which I think means they alter pants and shirts.


These two boys are minding the shop and drinking tea. Above their heads is a sign saying “Fix Price No Tension” but many people enjoy the cut and thrust of bargaining.

I stopped for a drink of freshly squeezed orange. This man peels the oranges first – cut off the top and bottom disks of skin, then make four vertical cuts and detach the peel. The peeled fruits go into this hand-cranked mincer. The pith comes out one side, and tart juice on the other. He adds sugar and salt to each glass.

Sometimes it is just nice to stop and chat with the locals, even if it is just in broken English. We can usually understand each other. I asked this man what he was selling. He pointed to the leaves on his right and drew a finger across the front of his neck. I was flummoxed. Then he said, “Mbaaah” and I realised he was selling fodder for sheep who had been brought into the old city to be slaughtered. He offered me a cup of tea, but I’d just drunk the orange juice, so I declined.


The man making these brass goblets and dishes didn’t want to be photographed, so I just snapped what he had been making. He was sweating over a charcoal fire, no wonder he didn’t want to be bothered.


This bakery must have blisteringly hot, too, when the oven was in action baking these cakes and breads. There is a fan fitted overhead but it can’t do much to cool down the shop assistant. The handcart is probably used to sell their produce on the street.


Boys always want you to take their picture. This lad was drinking lassi from a plastic bag. His friend decided to get in on the act with a photobomb.

The Meena Market outside the Jama Masjid mosque has on sale virtually anything you could ever want to buy. Or not want to buy. Like this topographical carpet in red, orange and beige. Or second hand irons. Ancient amplifiers and tuners. Wires of every type and description.

Did you know that screwdrivers, spanners and files come here to die?

There are fripperies too, such as silver bangles, earrings and any scent you could possibly smell.

There are spices, dried fruits and nuts, sandals and sweaters – yes, it was 36C today, but it is officially winter now.


The festival of Diwali is celebrated with fireworks. This chap at Majestic Fireworks Company has a “No Smoking” sign on the wall. He claims to have a gold medal and his shop is the oldest “of all kinds of display fireworks.”


I am not sure that Cheap Traders of the Jama Masjid Motor Market will have a website. But the Hotel Arsh does – http://www.hotelarsh.com – and it isn’t expensive at £7 a night. There is also the wonderful Indraprastha Hindu Girls’ Senior Secondary School founded with support from the theosophist, Dr Annie Besant, 112 years ago in a converted villa/haveli. It has two courtyards and lovely diffused light from stained glass panels.

It is always good to look your best on a Sunday morning. This man shaved off his ‘tache with an old fashioned safety razor and a lick of water. Pahh, soap? Who needs it?

Many places have a string of chillies and a lime hanging outside their house or shop. This is ward off Alakshmi, the Goddess of poverty and misery. She is the evil twin of Lakshmi, Goddess of prosperity and good luck. If Alakshmi eats the chillies and lime, she will lose her appetite and won’t come inside.


Chawri Bazar Road has the most impressive electrical wiring in Old Delhi. People and animals get electrocuted occasionally. The old architecture is crumbling away unfortunately.


Those of you with a sensitive disposition (or if you are reading this over your breakfast cornflakes), stop reading now, if you don’t want to see photographs of sheep heads, hooves, chicken feet and flies on a motorcycle seat – what was he carrying on there to make it so attractive?

By Dr Alfred Prunesquallor

Maverick doctor with 40 years experience, I reduced my NHS commitment in 2013. I am now enjoying being free lance, working where I am needed overseas. Now I am working in the UK helping with the current coronavirus pandemic.

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