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Delhi Flea Market

It’s 4:30AM and twilight is the only ambient light in here. This man has already settled up with the items he has. Items on sale can be anything. Could be a mobile charger, or an LED bulb or a tape cassette. Buyers using their mobile torches to verify the items.

Delhi Flea Market, photo essay by Kalyan Choudhury

PRIVATE 43, Other Side India (photo cover: Gauri Gill)

Delhi, the capital city of India holds its own flavour of history. Though the city is well known for its mythological values, not going too back into history, the city was called Shahjahanabad in 1639 by the then Mughal emperor Shahjahan. The then slow and calm streets of this city has now become a hub of hush and bush. Said that, it still reflects the ancient Mughal heritage and culture in its full swing. One of the prime attraction of Delhi has always been the infamous Chandni Chowk for multiple reasons. Starting from Asia’s biggest spice market, India’s second largest flea market, authentic and delicious Mughlai dishes, cloth market, book market and 16-17th century houses across the lanes. Among all these, resides the UNESCO world heritage monument Jama Masjid (or Masjid-e-Jahan-Numa) which was built by the Mughal emperor Shahjahan in 16th century. The Mosque stands tall in heart of this old heritage city, and claims its historical worth. I always wanted to see the flea market which comes into existence at backside of Jama Masjid every Sunday morning, and winds up by the late afternoon. But even after residing here 3yrs, I couldn’t make up to here, until one fine Sunday.

I left one summer morning at 4:00 AM and spend the entire Sunday morning documenting the popular flea market among the local people and how exactly all visitors and the world should interpret it. Documenting entire flea market for the day not got me only interesting images, but baked an entire different perspective to see the market.

(by Kalyan CHoudhury)

Once you pay, it’s sold. Once sold, no return. This is the untold policy of any flea market. Buyers verifying the items in light of their mobile torch.
A seller entering into the open ground premises to set up his own stall. Often sellers do come from nearby places hence easy to transport goods over cart.
Bargain! Bargain! Bargain! Thumb rule of a flea market. Some of the magnificent bargaining can be seen in here. One would stop attributing the bargaining art to ladies. Whosoever can’t bargain, flea market isn’t for them at all.
Crowd attracts crowd. This is why seller don’t mind a huge crowd at their stall. You need to invest time. Buyers here are really not in hurry. Within a crowd of 20, only 1 could be the potential buyer, but rest 19 would still stand and watch. — “Let’s watch the watch”
He has too many items to sell off. Often people can be spotted around such vehicles to load or unload heavy bags in exchange of money. This porter got his first job of the day.
Already bought some items, and hunting for more. Once can find unexpected or expensive items. It’s just a matter of time and luck.
Mohd. Rashid (46) carrying the last bag towards his stall into the flea market. Took couple more shots after talking to him, but they all found their place in bin. Often unknown look works better than a known smiling pose.
A boy carrying goods to sell to the flea market.
Devotees sitting on stairs of Jama Masjid South gate, taking glimpse of the news paper. These stairs take you directly into the flea market.
A man transporting footwear into the flea market to set up his stall through a narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk. These shops opens in afternoon and makes terrible for even to step in comfortably.
Not only goods, but one can even buy birds in here. A man who has already bought a cock, is trying to see if he can find something else for him from the market. Flea market is a boon to the deprived community among us.

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Kalyan Choudhury

[b. 1986] I go from crowd to corners, urban to wild & from easy accessible to extreme to get something different & exciting. That's what… More »

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