I walk into the streets of Khari Baoli as a confident woman, with a smile in my heart and twinkle in my eyes. Every Baoli tells a tale; while it reveals treasures of historical evolution, it continues to facilitate creation of newer identities.
Khari Baoli came up in the 17th century and is located in busy district of legendry Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi. It brags of being the largest spice market in Asia with a myriad of shops selling all kinds of Indian spices, herbs, dry fruits and food products mostly catering to North India.
For me, Khari Baoli is not just a destination, but a reminder of my family legacy in the dry fruit trade built over the last 70 years, and a revisit to my childhood and adolescence. A stage of life shaped by my grandfather’s grandeur and kindness, Ma and papa’s hard work, cousins bonding, and loads of feasting.
My favorite memories involve proudly walking along the alleys with my grandfather; a great entrepreneur of his time, after school office visits to secretly admire papa’s trading skills, hoping shops of uncles with cousins for Diwali Puja, enthusiastically scouring the streets of other baolis of Chandni Chowk with ma for the best deals, and feasting on the savory food offered by some of the renowned street vendors of Old Delhi.
Oh, what a blessing it is to re-live your idyllic childhood every day!
Then, suddenly another moment, you notice everything is different. It’s been changing the whole time, but you hadn't noticed until just now. The toned down appearance of the streets set you up for adventure as you dive deeper into the shops of khari baoli.
You notice a wave of next generation tech-savvy traders, sitting in shops sometimes hardly a meter wide, ambitiously hustling and trading worth billions. The bazaar way larger now compared to yester years as more alleys and bylans crop up to accommodate thousands of new traders. The convergence of technology and new world communication definitely had its share of impact. It has driven the market to be organized thus allowing for trade to happen in a more orderly system; And has equipped the market to better compete in the global marketplace with increasing interconnectedness.
Today, I enter this fragrant baoli, ready to write my story and build my unique identity. I find it scary yet hopeful, chaotic yet peaceful, modest yet ambitious, competitive yet abundant. I realize it’s all I ever wanted
Like a first love, Khari Baoli remains my favorite Baoli, for now and forever!