Much has been said about the long-pending Parkomat, the power cuts, the waterlogging, the encroachment of hawkers... But for so many, New Market remains New Market. A place to pick up a few things you can’t — or don’t want to — go anywhere else for. A place where the familiar face behind the counter and the natural warmth in the greeting make the tedious trip well worth it.
Here’s revisiting New Market for all the nice things one still gets at this 132-year-old landmark — set up by Sir Stuart Hogg — in an advanced state of decay.
Chamba Lama, Khattry’s Gift Palace, Heritage or Curio Cottage — if it’s silver, it still better be from New Market. Some of us don’t even know the name of our favourite silver stop here, but then we really don’t need to. Not when every little lane and bylane that leads to the 10-odd silver shops is so well mapped in memory.
The big question crops up once you enter the silver corridor: what not to buy' Tibetan trinkets, sterling silver stunners, little charms, exquisite earrings, neckpieces, bracelets, nose-pins, anklets, bangles, pendants…
“Our list of loyalists remains intact and that’s because of the prices, variety and quality we offer,” smiles a spokesperson for Chamba Lama, into its 49th year at New Market now.
The aroma and the array as you walk past F-20 force you to go the Oscar Wilde way (“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it”).
The cheese puffs and cheese straws, jam tarts and cakes (fruit, plum, Madeira or plain), brownies and fudge — the sweets and savouries that nestle in Nahoum’s remain timelessly tasty.
“Everything from the recipes to the Italian ceiling remains the same. And that is the speciality,” says David Nahoum, carrying the family’s pride well into the third generation. “We have been here since 1902 and will never move out,” declares David.
And no one’s complaining!
Plain poplin at Rs 25 per metre to beautiful brocade at Rs 500 — every kind of fabric (natural or synthetic) is available here in pretty patterns, smart solids, fancy weaves, khadi prints and more. From older favourites like Geeta’s Circle and Asha to newer ones like Menka and Meenakshi, every kind of fabric to stitch a groom’s sherwani to a grandchild’s school uniform can be found here.
“New Market has never disappointed me in so many years. A rare Japanese polynosic or a tanchoi, New Market has it all,” says designer Sunipa Samadder, a die-hard fabric fan of the Lindsay Street shopping address.
New Market is a one-stop shop for green thumbs. Neem oil, exotic manure, flowering bulbs, vegetable sheets, exotic hybrid sheets, gardening tools and equipment, vases and pots… Globe Nursery is the place to head for. What’s more, the shop has books on the subject and is all too willing to guide beginners.
“Globe Nursery has everything a beginner could need in the garden,” says Sonali Roy Chowdhury, a landscape artist.
The brightest section of New Market is the fragrant FR row. From its rose and rajnigandha days, the flower range now flaunts Oriental lilies, birds of paradise, gerberas, orchids and more. Some shops like AC Bose offer to deliver “anywhere in India”.
Fresh flower bouquets and bunches apart, the range also boasts seven-eight dry flower shops and one artificial flower shop. The dry flower section employs each part of the plant — flower, stem, shoot, root and fruit — to create amazing artefacts.
Corona, set up in 1945, has been the capital of pet products for generations. “Nothing has changed even today,” says Uday Krishna Basu Roy, partner.
And why should it' Chewing sticks, games, balls, leashes, collars, fancy jackets, medicine, de-tangle conditioners, feeding bowls and various food items… NB 5 and 5/1 is where your dog will surely go woof and wag.
New Hindustan and Olympic also stock some pet picks. Dogs and cats apart, New Market is home to a host of pet-related products — fish feed, aquarium accents, bird seeds…
Fish ’n’ pork
Hilton Towers and Grand Hyatt Regency in Mumbai, Park Street’s Mocambo and our kitchens… the common factor is only fish, courtesy New Market. Leading the way is Dulal’s seven-stall hub (where S.K. Ojha is the celebrity fish fillet man), but the rest of the fish family is not too far behind.
Ditto for the piggery products. Sausages, salami, bacon and ham — New Market remains the hub of it all.
X’mas ain’t no X’mas without buying some cheer from New Market. The gorgeous green trees (any size, height or type) and all the accompanying paraphernalia (shiny balls, angels, shimmer, bells, dolls and candles), candies, Santa Claus dolls, cakes, music, lights, crackers… For the sheer range of Christmas budget buys, life comes full circle every winter at the merry roundabout of New Market — so what if the cannon has limped away!
Also in New Market: Bipin Behary Dass, one of the oldest shops in New Market that started off with imported goods, went on to be a one-stop lingerie shop with Tollywood stars as loyalists. The Royal Stores remains a rare place that can manage the fancy MAC make-up range for you — lip-stains, gel eyeliners, fashion pigments and whatever else you want. Then there are the suitcases, fashion bags, laces, trimmings, fashion wigs, sewing stuff, shower curtains, bath mats, crockery, clips, plastic goodies, Chinese shoes, knick-knacks from Thailand…
No one keeps ’em all like New Market does, even now.