Commercial Street

On a recent saunter around Commercial Street, I snapped these images of a bustling, vigorous area which is so pithily described in the street’s name!

Many of the old buildings that were on Commercial Street have been pulled down to make way for larger, modern buildings; but this gem remains:

Aruna Silk House Building, Comml St

Imagine, 76 years old! Note the beautiful detail of the sunshades on the side of the building…well, Aruna Silks has also been around in this building since I came to live in Bangalore; a narrow-fronted shop that sells an unimaginable variety of fabrics!

Here are more images from this thriving thoroughfare….

Shops on the street have a bewildering array of items to tickle a woman’s fancy and make her open her purse wide..and that array includes some hand-embroidered handbags with exquisite mirror-work…

Commercial St 1234

And here are a couple of shops; the left-hand-side one sells travel bags and clothes; on the right is a shop, set up in the frontage of another, which sells a rainbow array of bangles.

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Underneath are the boxes in which these are stored. The lady who is pondering her purchase has jasmine flowers in her hair, and is wearing a silk saree. Jasmine threaded into long “mogra”s are sold all over the street in the evenings, scenting up the evening air.

Sometimes the crafts of other regions of India are also displayed. Here is a place which was having a sale of stuff from Orissa:

Commercial St 56789

And apart from the shops, vendors do a brisk business in other places, too. Here is one guy, selling carved artefacts just off the street:

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And another, sitting and patiently polishing some of his wares; he is selling an assortment of wooden cutlery, trays, and those “exercise” rollers…

Commercial St 1234

Sometimes the wares go mobile, too. On pushcarts… (those are cushions on the cart in front, and books–dirt cheap– on the cart behind):

Commercial St 1234

…and on cycles that have been beautifully adapted to take the wares. See the lovely woven tray and basket on the cycle, so well tied to it and balanced…those are delicious guavas!

Commercial St 1234

The Commercial Street area is known for a lot of cycle shops, and they sometimes store their excess stock on the street/ footpath for want of space!

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Notice, above, what I call the “Bane of Bangalore Pedestrians”….granite slabs, unevenly laid across the footpath, with dangerously gaping holes…!

The handwork is sometimes tacky, sometimes superb. Here’s a wall-hanging, a peacock done in silver thread on velvet…

Comml St Bhagat Ram and peacock embroidery

Here we are at Bhagat Ram, a shop whose samosas and jilebis my daughter grew up on. They started out as a hole-in-the-wall operation (which they still retain!) but have now opened a sit-down joint. Here’s my daughter, posing with the son of the original “Bhagat Ram”…amazingly, he recognized us after a gap of nearly three years, and had a warm smile for us!

Comml St Bhagat Ram and peacock embroidery

And here’s my daughter, grinning greedily as she photographs her plate of Dahi Papri Chat!

Bhagat, fun and fotography!

(She lives halfway across the world and is very, very fond of Bangalore fast food!)

The Street area, as one can imagine, gets a lot of litter each day. Helping to keep the place clean are such workers as this lady in the red sari and the uniform coat, stooping to her task. She has a broom made from coconut palm frond spines in her hand….

Keeping Commercial St clean...

Electric power is always in short supply in our city. So many shops have invested in diesel generators. Here’s one at the entrance of one shop….

Diesel Generator on Comml St

There are the occasional unsual, intriguing, and amusing things that you can do…have you ever used a “Blood Circulator /Massager”? I didn’t know we needed help to make our blood circulate! And this, for the sum of two rupees! Notice the handles one has to grip as one stands on the machine….

Commercial St 56789

An unescapable part of the street, like the rest of our city, though, is the poverty that co-exists with the wealth. The “Friendly Ice Cream” sign is obviously less than friendly to this little boy, who is scavenging in the dustbin before it, to see if he can salvage some ice-cream sticking to the carton, which some privileged child has eaten out of…a sad reminder that we have not been able to solve the problem of our street children yet.

Friendly Ice Cream

Each person who goes to Commercial Street sees something different….hope you enjoyed my view of it as much as I did!

10 Comments so far

  1. VS (unregistered) on April 28th, 2007 @ 3:11 pm

    Woohoo, tengina parake = broom made from coconut palm frond spines.
    The lady in the cream colored sari with brown border looks in the ‘coconut palm frond spine’ foto looks like she might need some help from the blood circulatory massager. :)
    And what is that playboy sign doing next to friendly ice cream?
    Just some observations, no pun intended.
    Great photos indeed, Deepa

  2. VS (unregistered) on April 28th, 2007 @ 3:12 pm

    Woohoo, tengina parake = broom made from coconut palm frond spines.
    The lady in the cream colored sari with brown border looks in the ‘coconut palm frond spine’ foto looks like she might need some help from the blood circulatory massager. :)
    And what is that playboy sign doing next to friendly ice cream?
    Just some observations, no pun intended.
    Great photos indeed, Deepa

  3. Mytri (unregistered) on April 28th, 2007 @ 7:18 pm

    You are all back. And with pictures no less. I love this section with pictures of people and constant movement. The story comes alive and this is India. Yes, poverty and gluttony co-exist. Yehi Hai Bharat Mahaan ;-)

    When the first grandchild was born in our house, my aunt distributed Bhagatram jamuns. They are so yummy and their shape is a source of constant amusement in my house(rolling my eyes) of only the male species!

    This is the place where German Silver earrings are payals are to found. Sigh. The countless hours I have spent loafing around this street. Even more than the main street, I love the gallis off Commercial Street. My husband still gets his clothes tailored here. They ask about his mom. Sigh. Long ties and all that…

    Thanks Deepa-avare. And for your daughter that picture will keep her happy until her next visit. And probably will be transmitted many times to her friends to be drooled over.HA HA!!

  4. Briju Prasad (unregistered) on April 28th, 2007 @ 7:20 pm

    Very nice pictures,I particularly like the Guava cycle cart…very like Bangalore..

  5. Ravi (unregistered) on April 28th, 2007 @ 10:51 pm

    Very nice, Deepa. You’ve certainly put in a lot of time and effort into taking pics and posting them – Great stuff!
    As an aside, I’m wondering if I should address you as Mrs. Deepa Mohan in the light of the fact about your grown up daughter & a son-in-law!
    Just kidding. Cheers!

  6. Mytri (unregistered) on April 29th, 2007 @ 12:54 am

    Ravi Saar, that is why we have Deepa Avare ;-)

  7. nParry (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 9:02 pm

    Great pictures…but the last one with the street kid digging for leftovers speaks volumes of who we are and where we are going – as a civilization.

  8. Bala (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

    Your picture of your daughter clicking the Panipuri is so unique, I have never seen anything like this before!

    If the panipuriwallas of Bombay see this post, they will all board the Udyan express tomorrow! :P

  9. tarlesubba (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 9:24 pm

    here is a question.
    can commercial street be made a no traffic zone?
    only non motorized users pedestrians, cycles, may be cycle rickshaws.
    would it improve the shopping experience?

  10. Deepa Mohan (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 9:46 pm

    Commercial Street was made a no-traffic zone for sometime, thanks to the initiative of several of us, including some of the shopkeepers on the street. It seemed quite a success, too; vehicles were parked in the Dispensary Road/Cavalry Road areas, and there was a shuttle every ten minutes that anyone who didn’t want to walk, could take. It had a nice round of Comml St and surrounding roads, and people could get on and off at the several stops. But vested interests claimed that business was suffering, and the whole initiative was stopped. This was, I think, 10 to 13 years ago, when traffic was nowhere as bad as it is today!

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