CurioCity


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On a dull working day I decide to junk the housework in search of art & pleasure. Here I am at Jogeshwari, in the centre of a road, facing row upon row of antique furniture & curio shops. It is a veritable treasure trove. The auto rick brought me spot on. No parking woes either.

Hayat Ali, with long flowing henna dyed beard, mans shop No:???? He refuses to be photographed as his religion forbids it or so he believes. The first buy is a Japanese teapot in a cheery floral design. A wee bit of haggling & the deed is done. It makes me happy & joyful. Beauty invariably does.

An interesting day it turns out, scouring shops selling everything from antique furniture to curios, lamps, books, coins, stamps, miniatures, paintings, film posters & framed photographs. A frame minus the photograph goes for less than one with a period picture. This is Mumbai. Everything has a price & everything sells. Even empty perfume bottles. I bought one in the shape of a dolphin. And don’t ask me why. There are bargains to be had. Of commonplace household items & freebies if one is lucky. Much like the ‘buy one get one’ scheme at Malls.

A role reversal happens at times, when the seller suddenly & surreptitiously becomes the buyer. “ You have Rolex watch? I give good price,” whispers Hayat

“You have Asharfi? You know Asharfi / Guinea/ gold coin?”

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Folding Deck Chair

Folding Deck Chair


Antique Camphor Box

Antique Camphor Box


Silver, embossed Soporo.

Silver, embossed Soporo.


Artefacts include an old time Pressure Cooker

Artifacts. Pressure Cooker (hanging)

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Life size chestnut coloured  wooden horse

Life size chestnut coloured wooden horse

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Objets d’ art evoking refinement & grace occupy every inch of empty space. However mediocre their lives it must be said that these shopkeepers have a keen eye for the beautiful. Amidst porcelain vases, sculptures & Chinese curios picked up from rich Parsi homes ( from the days of the opium trade) lie everyday household items such as a grater from grandma’s kitchen – made of brass & shaped like a tortoise – Also a pressure cooker, perhaps the first of its kind, polished, sparkling and new.

My prized bargain that day was a ‘Soporo’, a cone shaped artifact with a tiny bird at the pinnacle. It is used in Parsi ritual. This one is in silver & has an embossed Persian design. There is an inscription at the base, a date along with the name of the silversmith, the makers Rustomjee Jahangir. It also, has a name – SN Soonawala – Its last owner I presume.

It is a sad feeling

What could have compelled Mr Soonawala to part with precious family silver? It could not have been penury I am sure. Had he fallen on bad days? Was he emigrating to a far away land? Or could he have died childless? The possibilities were immense.

In any case the shops were all chock – a – block, full of artistic souvenirs from stately affluent homes. And each had a story, a tale to tell.

Exhausted from walking & talking, the heat & the dust I looked around for a café in an area where there was none. A shop owner offered to find me a drink. What would I have?

A Coke preferably or Pepsi. Any Cola

That would be difficult

Why?

Unofficial ban. American company. Nobody buys or sells it here.

‘Minute Maid’ pulpy orange then

That too. Same company. Have a Thumbs Up’ instead. Easily available

A ‘Thumbs Up’? Uggh!

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