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Bargain in the bazaars

mumbai Updated: Jan 22, 2012 01:34 IST
Anushka Mohite
Anushka Mohite
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Mumbai's street markets are vibrant, bustling with people and easy on the pocket. If you aren't interested in buying anything, you can just wander about, soak in the local character and take some arty photographs.

If you are planning to buy, though, make sure you know how to bargain. Yes, some people are born with the gift… but here are a few tips for those who weren't.

Tip 1: As soon as you hear the price, laugh as if you are sharing a moderately funny joke with the vendor, shake your head disbelievingly - and halve it.

Tip 2: As the vendor does his bit of laughing and head-shaking at your rate, start to amble away and feign intense interest in something at the next stall.

Tip 3: Wait…
Nine times out of ten, you will hear a faux exasperated voice call you back and begin the upward climb from half to maybe 40% less than the original price.

Now that you are armed with your bargaining tips, it's time to decide where you should head first.

If it's trendy clothes and junk jewellery that you are looking for - or, particularly for the men, leather shoes - head to Colaba Causeway.

Because this market is always brimming with tourists, many of the vendors now speak quite a bit of English and smatterings of French, Arabic and even Swahili - making it an interesting place to overhear bargaining in a variety of tongues.

"If you have a couple of hours to spare, it is amazing what you can find at Colaba Causeway," says Nirali Mehta, 24, a Worli resident who shops there frequently. "I once bought an entire Indian outfit, complete with bag, Kolhapuri chappals and some junk jewellery, for Rs 1,000."

For even more rock-bottom rates, particularly for shoes, head to Linking Road, Bandra (West), where you can get trendy sandals for as little as Rs 100.

"I usually go to Linking Road when I have to buy heels for weddings or events. They look good and are extremely affordable and last for a long time," says Prerona Kalita, 26, a public relations executive and Mahim resident.

Hill Road too has a quaint street market, with everything from shoes and clothes to lingerie on display at up for grabs at prices that start at Rs 100.

"I prefer a more edgy look and Hill Road has everything I need, from bright, checked shirts to funky pants," says Tanvi Madkaiker, 24, a fashion photographer and Santacruz resident.

A word of caution: Don't drive to either Hill Road or Linking Road, especially on a weekend; parking space is almost impossible to find.

Antique road show
The one place bargaining will not work is Chor Bazaar, mainly because the prices are already as low as they can be, given that some of the offerings are genuine antiques.

"I once found the steering wheel of a ship from the 1940s at Chor Bazaar," says Siddharth Ramachandran, 35, an artist and Chembur resident. "It was quite expensive, but for a history buff like me, it was completely worth it."

The best time to shop at Chor Bazaar is in the morning, when the fresh stock arrives, including old gramophones that still work, coins from decades ago and antique telephones, clocks and lamps taken from dismantled mansions or even bought at auctions.

For antique furniture at rock-bottom rates, head to Oshiwara, Andheri (West), where old teak gems are on sale for prices that start as low as Rs 9,000 for an original teak wood writing desk.

"If you find the antique furniture to be too expensive, you can ask the vendors to make a replica for you at a considerably lower rate," says Suhas Mutalik, 52, a lawyer, who bought all the furniture for her new home here.

For intricately carved antique lookalikes, head to the Mahim furniture market, where you can also get cane stools, cabinets and swings that are lightweight, durable and easy on the pocket, with prices starting at Rs 1,000.

"I come here to buy knickknacks for my house," says Sylvester Gomes, student counsellor and Andheri resident. "You also get beautiful cut-glass lamp shades here."