I went to Chawri Bazaar by chance. I had to drop a friend at the railway station. I thought it was the New Delhi railway station where we had to go. I was wrong. The train would begin its journey from the Delhi Junction. The Old Delhi railway station. We caught a cycle-rickshaw. He tried to take us there on time but the traffic was so congested that he had to tell us what we didn’t want to hear at that time: Bhai saaheb, paidal jaiye, jaldi hoga. Rickshaw main is taraha toh bahut der hoga, gadi chutjayegi. [It will be quicker if you walk otherwise you will miss the train.] He must have left us somewhere very near Chawri Bazaar. We ran toward the railway station. I was amazed by what I saw while panting. I was like, OMG, I have been living in Delhi for all these months and I haven’t seen this place! It’s like THAT India they describe in books published in the West.
I have walked that road and roamed around Chawri Bazaar a few times after that first encounter with the place. Living in the quieter neighborhoods of south Delhi where spacious parks and greenery are taken for granted, it is difficult to believe that such an intense crowd, narrow alleys, and chaos exist so close to, say, Lutyens Delhi. The place offers varieties of things. So much so that the entire street could be branded ‘specialized wholesale market of brass, copper and paper products.’