Monday, August 29, 2011

Treasure trove of delights

Within the hustle of a global city on the move, Russell Market, one of Bangalore’s oldest markets, maintains an old world bustle that seems never-changing. Where else would you find cheek by jowl aubergines and broccoli, cutlery, crockery and other household knick-knacks along with a dusty old shop that may just have a genie in a lamp, waiting to be released.
Homemakers on the lookout for good bargains come to Richard Square confined within the crowded by lanes of Russell Market. You have to make your way past plastic stools and buckets, ironing boards, wrought iron waste baskets, folding aluminium clothes stands and various other handy objects coupled with persuasive shopkeepers eagerly announcing the utility of their wares to finally reach a little gem of an antique shop.

In all likelihood you will find in dusty ‘New Castlewood’, the sideboard of your dreams tucked away in a corner. A marble inlaid round centre table hidden under a pile of cardboard and burlap beckons shyly even as you spot a genuine ‘His Master’s Voice’ gramophone seemingly reminiscing about the tunes it once played. Bureaus, corner pieces, sideboards and centre tables apart; you can also find porcelain figurines peeking precariously from the top of various bits of furniture.

“We have been running this shop for almost three decades now,” says Masroor Ahmed as he vigorously dusts a small table. He candidly points out the real antiques from the newer reproductions. Masroor says that he goes door-to-door to collect vintage items and shows off a recently procured porcelain vase, which according to him, is the real deal. “I have a lot of loyal clients and I personally go to their houses to collect anything they want to sell. I also inform them when I acquire something interesting,” he says.
In the olden days, British memsahibs would come to Russell Market in their horse drawn carriages to get fresh vegetables and meat for their kitchens. Built in 1927, Russell Market is a smorgasbord of treasures. It is the one place where you will find exotic fruits and vegetables like avocado, kiwi, red jalapeno, Chinese cabbage, artichokes, celery and broccoli rubbing shoulders with plastic containers and steel utensils.
Most of Bangalore’s restaurateurs source their raw materials for their mouth-watering dishes from here and if you don’t want to make a journey to a fancy restaurant, there are stalls within Russell Market that sell Iranian tea, skewered kebabs and other delicacies. Dew-laden stalks of roses, orchids and gladioli sparkle in the sunlight even as the ninety-four year old St Mary's Basilica stands stoically watching over the routine stirrings of the market.

- Raintree Media Features


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