The new Itwaar Bazaar (Sunday Market)

September 13, 2009 at 8:43 am 14 comments

Itwaar Bazaar has always been what people in the West would refer to as a flea market. It was always an innumerable number of stalls under tents on a large dusty ground in Karachi. Every Sunday a lot of people converged on the one in DHA to browse, buy books, clothes, fruit, vegetables, trinkets, household goods – in fact almost anything and everything. Many of the regulars referred to it as a treasure hunt. Visitors from out of town were taken on visits to Itwaar Bazaar because it was a unique experience and although sometimes the heat and the dust got to you, for many Karachiites it became a haunt at weekends – a place where they would loiter and shop and often run into friends and associates. My friend Afia always said it was the best way for her to unwind.

Itwaar BazaarDoes this look like what I have just described? If it isn’t, the reason is that they have upgraded Itwaar Bazaar. They have cemented the walkways, put up some fancy overhead covers to protect you from sun and rain. These are mostly made of windsheeter material with a few being of fiber-glass. I think the intent also is to put up directional signs so people will know where to go for particular items of food, clothing or household goods – in other words, a large outdoor supermarket.

Itwaar Bazaar 2They call this progress. But is it? A first view of the makeover made us comment “But they’ve taken the soul out of the place. It is now akin to any other cemented shopping experience.” It has lost its intrinsic charm and the sense of mystery that it has always had. What will they do next? Aircondition the place?

Maybe we are over-reacting. Maybe the old place was too dusty, too informal, too disorganized, too difficult to navigate in. But that was part of the fun, wasn’t it? It was a treasure hunt – the intent was not so much to shop but to loiter, to discover, to hang out, to just while away some time – and of course end up buying this and that. It was the informality of the place that gave it heart. This place looks like a touristy flea market. It has lost its essence, the original flavour, and the intricate natural connectedness it had.

Will we stop going there? No. Will we get used to the new swanky Itwaar Bazaar? Sure we will. Will we start to find reasons to say that in some ways this new Itwaar Bazaar model has its distinct advantages? Of course we will. One that we came up with on our visit was that because of the paved walkways, people in wheelchairs, and those with prams, would now be able to come here too. Had they wanted to achieve this purpose, they could have tried either thicker carpets, paving stones or cobblestones rather than cement. But ‘they paved paradise, and put up a parking lot’

We will begin to accept these “improvements” and will perhaps over time forget the orignal Itwaar Bazaar but for the moment, I miss the old place. It has for me lost its comfy, homely feel. Does everything need be organized? Can’t some things be allowed to just naturally evolve and co-exist in the cemented surroundings which have become a part of our “civilized” environment?

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14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. The new Itwaar Bazaar (Sunday Market) | Tea Break  |  September 13, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    […] This cup of tea was served by: In the Line of Wire […]

    Reply
  • 2. The new Itwaar Bazaar (Sunday Market) | Tea Break  |  September 13, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    […] This cup of tea was served by: In the Line of Wire […]

    Reply
  • 3. Sana  |  September 13, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Plz tell me this isn’t true😦 this looks more like ashiana I
    Miss my Sunday😦

    Reply
    • 4. waseem abad  |  August 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      dear sana yehi itwar bazzar hai

      Reply
  • 5. jamash  |  September 13, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    oh and what will the poor people who used to sprinkle water to keep the dust from blowing in the air do ? 😦

    Reply
  • 6. owaeis  |  September 13, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    heh!😀

    Reply
  • 7. sophia  |  September 13, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Oh, isnt Karachi undergoing the same phenomenon in the name of development. There is all the praise for the so called ‘development’ which is actually ghettoisation of Karachi… isolating the haves and the have-nots, taking away spirit of karachi, making it market friendly… oh my oh!

    Reply
  • 8. Farieha  |  September 13, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Head to the jumma and peer bazars to enjoy what’s left of the ‘bazar’ experience. The new itwar bazar seems to have that Hong Kong night market feel, but looks a lot cleaner and more orderly – which is no fun!

    Was this done by DHA or CBC? If yes, then I’d like to whack the person responsible. How about focus on the roads first!

    Reply
  • 9. Yasser  |  September 13, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    well i am surprised to see the comments that people prefer the dust fun(inclined towards heart and other disease) as compared to the cleaner environment (inclined towards healthy life)

    Reply
  • 10. Fariha Akhtar  |  September 13, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    I went to Itwaar Bazaar today and came back frustrated,with a throbbing headache. While I don’t really mind Itwaar Bazaar’s upgradation, I certainly mind not being able to find many of the things I used to find at old Itwaar Bazaar. I found noticeable difference in prices. Talking to a few shopkeepers I found out that the rent of the stalls has almost been doubled and as a result either shopkeepers are unable to buy a stall or if they do, they sell stuff at increased rates. I wonder if this bazaar would still serve as a “bachat” bazaar for people, specially for those who cannot afford to shop from elsewhere!

    Reply
  • […] The new Itwaar Bazaar (Sunday Market) « In the Line of Wire jehanara.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/the-new-itwaar-bazaar-sunday-market – view page – cached Itwaar Bazaar has always been what people in the West would refer to as a flea market. It was always an innumerable number of stalls under tents on a large dusty ground in Karachi. Every Sunday a lot of people converged on the one in DHA to browse, buy books, clothes, fruit, vegetables, trinkets, household goods – in fact almost anything. Many said it was like a treasure hunt. Visitors from out of town were taken on visits to Itwaar Bazaar because it was a unique experience and although sometimes the heat and the dust got to you, for many Karachiites it became a haunt at weekends – a place where they would loiter and shop and often run into friends and associates. My friend Afia always said it was the best way for her to — From the page […]

    Reply
  • 12. Saba  |  September 14, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Come on guys, be a sport!! When we didn’t have cemented pavements, we used to complain about the dust, now that it’s taken care of, you people are complaining?!?

    Although the prices may have hiked a bit and it may not be the bachat bazaar that it used to be, it still has a flea market wali feel and lots of Parking space which was a nuisance back then!

    Reply
  • 13. M  |  September 14, 2009 at 10:05 am

    if they leave out the signs, it will still be a treasure hunt😉

    Reply
  • 14. Farieha  |  September 18, 2009 at 12:09 am

    But the whole point of it was to be a bachat bazar. Forget the well-to-do, the low income groups could at least afford to buy things at the place. But now, with us wanting to sell a better image to others and cater to the nakhray walas, we are limiting the places where these people can buy things.

    It is a well known fact that designers pick up cloth/laces etc in bulk from this market, and the brand conscious go to the bag section to buy cheaper LV and other branded bags. The shopkeepers know that they can squeeze out double the amount of money from such people because what they are being asked to pay is really peanuts for them – even if it is double the amount, it is still far less than what the original at the outlet will cost.

    This tendency to pay “moen-maangi rakam” is also the reason for the price hike at such markets. The shopkeepers, who were at least be open to bargaining, now know there is no shortage of people who will buy their goods at the price they want, and so, they wait for them to come along and a turn a deaf ear to the others. Maybe the good old days when the rich stayed clear of itwar bazar and zainab market because they looked down upon them, was a good thing. These days, even landa bazar near Lighthouse has become a famous shopping spot.

    Next we know, it won’t just be for sugar and wheat that the poorer masses of this country will be standing in line for, but also for fruit, clothes and all else, which will have to be purchased at utility stores and sasta ration shops, a result of which hundreds will either be trampled upon or left deprived.

    Reply

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