EXOTIC VEGETABLES AND PADDINGTON STATION
CRAWFORD MARKET IN central Mumbai was completed in 1869. Its British architect William Emerson (1823-1924) designed it in an Indo-Saracenic style, which attempted to combine Victorian Gothic and Indian architectural features.
I am familiar with some of Emerson’s other buildings. One of them is the Nilambagh Palace in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. Now a hotel, we have stayed there. Another building, which is closer to our home in London, is the Clarence Wing of the St Mary’s Hospital in London’s Paddington. You can read more about the hospital in my book “BEYOND MARYLEBONE AND MAYFAIR: EXPLORING WEST LONDON”, which is available from Amazon.
Two of the entrances to the market hall are surmounted by lovely bas-reliefs, which were created by Rudyard Kipling”s father John Lockwood Kipling (1837-1911). The building was the first in India to be lit by electricity. This was added in 1882. There is a noteworthy Gothic revival drinking fountain in the market hall. This was gifted by Cowasji Jehangir. Many cats and kittens were running around its base. No doubt at night, they threaten the rodents that might be lurking around the market. During the day, they are given tidbits by the market traders.
The market is mainly for food and household goods. When driving past it on the nearby JJ Flyover, there is usually a whiff of fish emanating from it. However, within the market, this is not noticeable.
Amongst the numerous vegetable stalls, we noticed a few selling typical European products such as lollo rosso lettuce, fresh basil leaves, and other herbs associated more with European cuisine than Indian. At one of these stalls, we spotted Chinese cabbage and pak choi. The stalls selling these described themselves as purveyors of “exotic” or “English” vegetables.
A visit to Crawford Market is always worthwhile. You are likely to be approached by porters who will offer to follow you around whilst you shop. They will carry your shopping in cylindrical baskets, which they balance on their heads. As we were ‘just looking’, we did not take up their offers.