Kolkata: New Market aka Hogg Market

When Azri and I walked through New Market, also known as Hogg Market, for the Street Food Walk, we thought, “Hey, it’s not so bad to walk here in the evening… Let’s try going here again!” The air was cool (WINTER IS COMING! Unlike GoT, we welcome the lower temperature.) and it seemed safe to walk when the sun’s out. You can refer to first photo of the previous post to get a glimpse of what I mean.

We checked out to this once Whites-only market* on one afternoon of our first month here and the experience was not good. Sun was scorching and we were not used to the messiness yet. Plus, we hadn’t had lunch, so we ended up being grumpy.

(*FYI: During the colonial times, British people were too snobbish and racist to go to the markets with Indians, so they build this grand one, which official name was Sir Stuart Hogg Market. They couldn’t get any more English than that. But the nickname New Market was more popular, and it stuck on.)

So with a new found hope that New Market could offer us more positive memories, we made our way there last Sunday. And…

Say hello to the oldest shopping market located in the heart of Kolkata

“OMG, WHYYY SO CROWDED?!?!?!” was my first question. Almost immediately, it hit us that we went there on a weeknight two weeks ago, and not on a weekend. Hah. The crowd was unbelievable. I don’t think I’ve ever found myself walking around with as many people before. The most I could think of is at Singapore’s Bazaar Geylang during Ramadan, and that wasn’t even half of the population here!

It was common to being pushed around and to push others around at the market (Generally, women push women and men push men.) but you’ve got to give it to them – Like their crazy traffic, in which honks go off non-stop, the locals don’t rage on. And I’m sure the movement of people here would look seamless from a bird’s eye view.

New Market has indoor and outdoor shopping areas. Azri and I went to the former one first to look at the garments. Sellers, mostly young men, were incessantly touting. They followed us around and kept grabbing Azri’s arm. For people like us who are used to personal space, it was annoying. I couldn’t look at anything without someone interrupting! Also, ventilation was bad and we were sweating profusely. So, we headed out in less than half hour.

Left: Co-existence of both the traditional and the modern;
Right: I was so excited with my buy, I had to try it on as soon as we got home 🙂

Outside was a more refreshing experience! Breeze was very shiok and shop vendors were equally chilled. We managed to stop, and take photos, and look through the items displayed. It was very enjoyable and enriching to soak in the exchanges amongst locals over buying/selling both traditional and modern things…

We happily collected a few stuffs from different shops. My favourite is the kurta (in photo) which cost me 200 rupees, about S$4.40! It’s so lepak and sweet 😀 I got myself two other casual kurta and two pairs of leggings, all for 150 rupees each (Hee!) while Azri purchased himself a more formal looking kurta at a higher price. Unlike women, men do not wear traditional clothes on a daily basis, so theirs cost a little more. We also bought our families dressy Indian’s clothes which can be worn during festivities. I’d say money well spent!

Delicious deep fried pakora 😛

And of course, amidst all the walk, Azri wanted to munch on something and we had these tasteful pakora for 20 rupees. They were like crispy and crunchy vada/vadai, bursting with rich flavours! Really yummy…

Left: Our sweaty and oily happy faces; Right: Remember there was once I wrote (this post) that if a zombie apocalypse started here, I would not survive? This crowd confirms my theory.

Overall, we are glad that we gave New Market a second chance. But of course, we would go there on a weekday evening the next time round. While the crowd was still bearable, I would prefer not to have other people’s sweat constantly rubbing against my skin. Can’t wait to shop there again!