COLABA MARKET HAS EVERYTHING YOU NEED
Colaba Market is primarily a vegetable market that lies between the shops of Colaba Causeway and Sassoon Docks. There are even restaurants and silver shops in and around the market.
Colaba Market, Lala Nigam Road, Colaba, Mumbai 400 005
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Nestled behind Colaba Causeway lies a vegetable market that has exactly what you need.
The Lala Nigam Road market is not the famous stretch where vendors pound mango wood drums, pundits offer to show me “god and health” for 2,000 rupees, and I haggle awkwardly over scarves, jewellery and genie lamps. Sheltered from the rapid change and growth seen and heard on the main road, this is where locals spend less time negotiating non-essentials and focus instead on the essentials.
The market has all of them – meat, fish, vegetables, spices and grains, tailors hemming clothes, restaurants serving lunch, and even shops selling fine silver – and it operates within a vibrant community and neighbourhood.
As the buses and car horns dissipate so do the sounds of "Baba! Sir! Good price!" chasing me down the street. I step into Silver House and meet its owner Hasmukh Shah. He shows me platters and candelabras and offers me chai, but I’m more interested in the crowd gathering at the lunch stand outside his window.
Vendors simply nod when I admire barrels of garlic sold as heads, cloves, peeled, in bags, and by the kilo.
Side-stepping mopeds flying down the brick road, I push through men in suits standing in groups eating their lunch, order two vada pav for myself, and carry them past burlap sacks of rice, lentils, rich red Punjabi beans, resplendent channa, and clear plastic bags of masalas, cardamoms, and anise.
Children in school uniforms run around me on their way home for lunch. Women arranging apples, butchering chickens, and cleaning fish with sickles don’t look up as I walk by. I pass rows of brightly coloured umbrellas covering eggplant, tomatoes, bitter gourd, garlic, chillies onions, and beans. Vendors simply nod when I admire barrels of garlic sold as heads, cloves, peeled, in bags, and by the kilo.
As the lane narrows, motorcycles become cycles and then disappear altogether with the last of the vegetable stands. A few steps later I’m alone in the street, surrounded by small flats playing Peshawari music and boiling rice, kebabs, and curries for lunch.
I turn around and head back through the market to attend to my mother-in-law’s shopping list. As I haggle modestly for garlic, eggplant and snow peas, the vendors agree to split the difference between their asking price and my counter offer.
This is where locals spend less time negotiating non-essentials and focus instead on the essentials.
When I reach the bottom of the lane I return to Silver House and take Hasmukh up on his offer. Moments later, sweet, milky chai arrives from the market in thin plastic cups on metal saucers. We sit quietly, watching the market from his window as his staff settles their prices with customers. He tells me that the market’s open every single day, even during the monsoon, and I should come back for Diwali supplies as they stock up for every festival.
The first time I visited the market five years ago, I came looking for peas. Little did I know it had everything I needed – literally everything on my shopping list, and figuratively everything I need to feel part of the city.
Feature photograph by Suruchi Maira