Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Pune's Oldest 'Olx' and 'Quikr', long before the Internet: Juna Bazaar.


Scorpion shaped wall-pegs, damsel shaped bottle opener and betel nut crackers.
It’s been over 4 years since we came to Pune, and although I had visited the Juna Bazaar twice earlier to pick up scrap for RecyclingI decided to visit again, but this time, with a traveler’s perspective. And I’m glad I did, because I could appreciate and observe the bazaar more than before.
A box with compartments for betel leaves and nuts. 
The Juna Bazaar is a market for old and second hand goods, as the word ‘juna’ which means ‘old’ in Hindi, suggests. It’s a make shift market, stretching over half a kilometer, that is set up on every Sunday and Wednesday from 9 am to 6 pm on Veer Tanaji Ghorpade road in Kasba Peth. 
I am usually petrified of crowds but I braved this one. 
If you are visiting this market be prepared to wade through the crowd and narrow spaces. I entered the market and was casually strolling and stopping by at stalls to take pictures and occasionally chat up with the sellers. I stopped at one antique seller’s stall and casually enquired from where he sources these antique items. Instead of answering my question, he asked me where I am from. I told him I’m from Pune but I’m visiting the market for the first time. (Yes, I know I lied!!). He laughed and said that he guessed that because the locals never ask that question. He invited me to sit on the footrest of the scooter that was parked next to him and I took a short leap over his precious collection and sat down. He proceeded to show me various items from his stall. 

Nizam Bhai and the scooter next to him where I sat. 
Some of the coins he showed me dated back to Shivaji Maharaj and Aurangazeb’s time, which is almost over 300 yrs old. He said he sources things from various places. The coins are usually from villages and farms and fields, because in the earlier days before the banking system, people kept their money safe by burying it in the fields, in pots. Some people also part with their own collection. A lot of interesting brassware was sold by people who could no longer keep up with the demands of this high maintenance metal.
Old coins in the denominations of one paisa and pice. 

Coins from Shivaji Maharaj's time. Note the words 'Chhatrapati' and 'Raja' in Hindi on the coins. 

Coin collection.
Silver coins from Aurangazeb's time, made in Surat. 
The coins at his stall as well as in other stalls was priced between Rs 50 to Rs 300 depending on its antiquity.
Anklets for humans and animals like cows and elephants. 

Door knockers. 
I asked him how old this market was. He said the market has been thriving since the reign of the Peshwas, since over 300 years. He said he is in his 60’s now and remembers tagging along, as a young child with his grandmother, who herself had been selling antique items at the bazaar for a very long time. My guess is that when the city started expanding, the oldest original market of Pune, which was outside Shaniwarwada, diversified around 150 yrs ago, into the vegetable market at Mandai and the Juna bazaar for second-hand items.
This bowl shaped item is used for massaging the legs. 
If you visit the Juna bazaar, do visit this friendly seller, Nizam Bhai, who offered me tea and also showed me a few clippings of newspapers and magazines in which he had been mentioned. I thanked him for the information and his hospitality and proceeded to explore the other stalls.
A 1920 model of a Marine telescope. 

A seaman's box containing a compass, magnifying glass and telescope. 
The antiques range from interesting brass home décor items like vases and lanterns, door knockers shaped like lions and elephant heads, scorpion shaped wall-pegs, to kitchen items like tortoise shaped vegetable graters and artistically designed betel nut crackers and boxes to miscellaneous items like a 1920 model of a Marine telescope, a brass coal iron and a receptacle shaped like a cow for offering holy water. Prices ranged from Rs 250 to Rs 3000 depending on the item.
A vegetable grater shaped like a tortoise. 

A tiny brass coal iron box. 

Horns and sand clocks. 
I chatted up with another seller and he told me that not all items that are labelled as ‘antique’ are actually antique. There are factories, mostly based in Delhi, which manufacture copies of the original antique pieces.
A tiny antique gramophone. 

A genie's lamp. Yes, I did make a fervent wish! 

A cow shaped vessel for holy water. 

It says telescope made for the Royal Navy. 

A beautiful fish shaped lock with equally beautiful keys. 
Apart from antiques, you also find other second hand household goods like refrigerators, blenders, pots and pans and stoves, and electronic appliances like computer parts and television screens, phones and also car batteries and type writers! There are also various second hand tools like spanners, axes, shovels, chains and pulleys for construction work. 
Half used bottles and tubes of paint. 

Old phones. 

Old refrigerators. 

Pans, stoves, and cookers. 

Steel utensils. 
Although it is Juna bazaar, you also have some stalls selling new items like suitcases, bags, goggles and eyewear, shoes and apparel.
Hardware equipment like pliers, spanners, screwdrivers. 

Suitcases.

Jeans priced at Rs 80! Really cheap. 

Car batteries. 

Reflection on the eyewear. 

The shoes section. 
If you are tired after walking around, there are stalls that sell vada pav, cucumbers and lemonade.
Vada pav stall. 

Cucumbers to beat the heat. 
Things to keep in mind if you plan to visit Juna bazaar:
·         The market is open only on Sundays and Wednesdays between 9 am to 6 pm.
·         Be prepared to walk around a lot.
·         Carry water to keep yourself hydrated. I did not see any shops selling bottled water.
·         I usually don’t bargain, although others would recommend it. Use your discretion.
·         Go through the antique section carefully. There are many interesting items and unless you look closer, you wouldn’t know what it is.
·         Enjoy the experience.
Typewriters. are there people who use them? 

Foot rest for polishing your shoes, seen commonly at Mumbai railway stations. 

Horse shoes. 

Coal operated stoves. 




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