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June 24, 2005
As we were looking for vegetables, we were directed to a hall, the entrance of which was through a small lane. When you are walking on that lane on each step, your mind says that you are making a mistake. But no sooner than we entered the hall had we found around 50 shops selling a variety of vegetables. One look at the veggies, and you can feel how fresh they are - may be straight from the garden. I must say that I did not have to purchase vegetable for next 10 days. The prices were very cheap; thanks to this market, we were able to have platefuls of steamed vegetables, soups, pastas, and noodles loaded with veggies all through our stay.
A nearby lane was having shops that were selling the groceries. There were lanes that only had clothes, and one of the lanes had lots of sari shops. The market is slightly dirty and smelly, but the cost at which you get the items more than off-sets this aspect. There are very good eating places in this area. Try Aheli at the Peerless Inn for highend Bengali cuisine and Alemia for Mughlai-style food. There are many sweet shops that sell fresh stuffed ‘poorees’ and vegetables. The hand-pulled rickshaws are available to take you back to the main road if you get exhausted or feel too dehydrated to walk. Licensed porters are available to carry the purchase. They come with you up to the bus and see to it that you are settled. We opted for the porter. I think he charged us Rs.20 for the service, which we happily paid.
From journal A Fortnight in Raichak
New Delhi, India
December 8, 2002
New Market was built in 1864 (that’s how `new’ it is!!), and ten years later, in 1874, the neighbouring Sir Stuart Hogg Market was added- today the two markets are more or less contiguous. With a newly-painted red, cream and green façade, New Market is fairly striking. It has a high vaulted ceiling, and rows of wooden shops stretch in neat lines from left to right and back to front. This isn’t one of your rickety-stall type of markets, so typical of South East Asia: it’s a regular brick-and-mortar market, with proper shops. At the very front of the market adjoining Lindsay Street, are florists, and in the next few rows are Chinese shoemakers- they make excellent customized footwear, and some of the best names here are Henry, Kowloon and S Hugh- try getting them to make shoes for you, if you’ve got a week or more in Kolkata.
Beyond the shoemakers, and covering most of New Market, are many more shops, selling clothing, books, jewellery and more; there’s also a fairly historic bakery called Nahum’s (alas, now on the verge shutting down) and plenty of stores selling other knick-knacks. Off to the right, separate from the rest of the shops, are stalls selling meat and chicken, rice, spices, prawn crackers, herbs, sweets, vegetables and fruit, paneer (the native `Indian cottage cheese’) and mundane stuff like that. It’s a smelly, often pretty untidy sort of area, but great for an exploratory walk-through: you’ll probably come across a lot of unusual spices, herbs and other ingredients. If you walk down, past the vegetable and meat sellers, away from Lindsay Street and towards the back of New Market, you’ll find some shops which sell Kolkata’s very own specialties: cane baskets, utensils, glass bangles, delectable cheese-and-palm-sugar sweets; and lovely embroidery, including cutwork and shadow work. Most of them are on the fringes of New Market, and are worth having a look at. The cane, sweets and embroidery are especially recommended- they make for great souvenirs, and are really the type of stuff you won’t find anywhere else in India.
From journal The Charm of Kolkata