I think of Chandni Chowk as the mixture in which our wedding marinated. The flavor, the amazing taste and the phenomenal little touches that we had at the events, came from here. From setting foot in this amazing market once a year to making a trip there every second day was quite a change, but I am glad I got to experience the authentic ‘delhiness’ of the place, and that we were shopping in a place so steeped in history. Countless generations of brides must have shopped here before me, and countless will after me.
I am very very thankful that A and I were so involved in our own wedding. The result of it was that every small thing, each small touch was recognized by us on the days – and brought a smile to our faces to see our ideas and our hard work transformed into reality. It took a lot of gruelling days in the sun, and endless trips back and forth – but with my hand in his, we made magic happen.
One of the first trips I made to CC was with Mom and A for the purpose of the wedding cards, and then for my wedding lehenga. After that I made another couple of trips there with Mom to a) yell at the cardwalla (here) and b) to frantically buy the lehenga I had fallen in love with (here)
With the arrival of Dad a week into our stay, Mom and I kind of parted ways. She was busy distributing cards with him, or shopping with my aunts for things the countless ceremonies require. A’s parents were busy as well, and we kind of fell together though we had no complaints!
And so one fine day we headed to Kinari Bazaar, armed with a long and specific list. None of us had been here before. To experience Kinari bazaar is to experience the essence of Delhi: there is beauty in the details but chaos reigns.
I had never before seen such narrow lanes, or the maze that these lanes make. The rickshaw jams were a thing of their own! It was quite an experience, and I had never before been so thankful for the pleasant October morning.
However, our first time there was a kind of a fail. We didn’t find most of what we had on the list and I was kind of dissapointed because I had heard so many people raving about it.
One of the things I was looking for were a couple of ring trays. I was looking for something very unique – perhaps something with an antique look to it. We stopped at several shops, and were shown a lot of trays, but nothing really clicked. I thought that many of them looked a bit tacky and some looked like art and craft projects. A of course didn’t care much but still agreed. After scouring the shops up and down the ‘galli’, I decided I didn’t like any. Fail #1 for the day.
Saw trays like these, which were not too bad, but not what I had in mind
We had also gone there to look for A’s ‘dulhaa pagdi’ or ‘groom’s turban’. His wedding sherwani had been designed but the designer didn’t do pagdis, and he recommended Chandni Chowk for that. A wanted something unique – definitely custom made, but he was also thinking about perhaps not going for a pre-made pagdi, and getting it tied on his head on the day of the wedding.
We checked scores of shops. Many of them had similar pagdi designs, and we were being very choosy. Some were halfway decent, and some were downright gaudy. A must have tried on at least 50 pagdis that day, and we were laughing so hard at some of the gaudier designs! I still have pictures on my phone from those trials. It was a lot of fun, but ‘the’ pagdi eluded us. Fail # 2 for the day.
An example of a pagdi we definitely didn’t like
By now we were both getting irritated. It was hard finding anything, it had gotten hotter, the crowds had grown and we were getting hungry. I was starting to think this place is totally overrated.
The day was somewhat saved when I found something – a beautiful kalash. It was white with amazing coloured work on it (meena work I think). It looked like it belonged at the Taj Mahal. (This was nowhere on the list, but since when is that a rule!) I thought it would be perfect for my grahpravesh, and we bought it. When she saw it, my mom in law loved it as well. Save # 1 for the day.
I don’t have a clear picture of the kalash I bought but it is very similar to this
It was getting really hot by now so we headed out of the Kinari market and went to (of all places) McDonalds. A was fed up of chaat and all, and wanted a break from the steady heat so we headed there.
It is a feat to cross roads in CC! The roads are just as bad as the narrow lanes. Jams are made from cars, scooters, buses, all sharing space with bullock carts, horse buggies, cyclists, pedestrians and hawkers who eat up half the road. I was always scared to cross roads there, and it took all of A’s navigational and ‘calming me’ skills to get us across each time. I was convinced we’d be run down by an auto or something.
After lunch, we headed over to the flower market right in front of Gauri Shankar Temple. (You can see the mandir on the left hand side of the picture above. The flower stalls are right opposite it across the street). I had heard that this is the place for floral jewelry and sure enough it was! They had albums and albums of beautiful floral jewelry and I was delighted! There is no tradition of floral jewelry in my family, but I just really wanted it for my mehendi ceremony. However, whether I would actually do it or not depended on if I found a place that made decent jewellery – I didn’t want strings of flowers clumsily tied together. So I was very glad to have found this place! I placed the order and sat there explaining to the guy exactly what kind of jewellery I wanted – he wrote it all out on my receipt and assured me that the jewellery would be delivered home on the day of the mehendi. I was concerned about the flowers wilting, but he swore that they will stay fresh for two days straight. I happily crossed off one thing on my list. Epic save #2.
We did return to Kinari to give it a chance to redeem itself, and it sure did! Continued in the next part.