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All Caps

As one walks through the narrow lanes of Bohri Ali,one spots a stock of bedsheets on one side,new utensils on another,and kiosks busily serving hot chai and vada pav.

Written by EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE | Published: February 2, 2012 12:49:06 am

With the rise in awareness campaigns,protests and fests,the orders for caps are at an all-time high at this 80-year-old National Cap Market at Bohri Ali

As one walks through the narrow lanes of Bohri Ali,one spots a stock of bedsheets on one side,new utensils on another,and kiosks busily serving hot chai and vada pav. Amidst this hustle-bustle,a red board points to the ‘National Cap Market’. The arrow directs you to a semi-dilapidated structure. Inside the dark building,one climbs three floors to reach the National Cap Market. In this single-room market,several caps line the shelves. Huge white sacks contain caps of different shapes,materials and sizes.

This market was established in 1932 by city-based businessmen,Turakhias. Rajesh Shah,who has been working at the market for the last four years,shows a customer a few caps. The yellow tinge of the room matches the newly opened sack that contains over 100 caps made to order for a college programme. For Shah,this is Capistan. “You can’t find cheaper caps anywhere else,which is why we see so many buyers,” he says.

In the past 80 years,the market has seen several changes. “Initially,we would sell Gandhi topis,” says Sadhna Turakhia,who owns the outlet with her husband,Bharat. “We would keep several things that spoke of the independence movement,” she adds.

Today,a modern look envelops the place. Caps are brought in from several places – Kolkata,Daman,Mumbai and Delhi. “We sell them at a reasonable price,starting from Rs 30,” says Shah. “During the monsoon season,we keep raincoats too.”

The place also manufactures caps on order. In fact,with an increase in independent movements like protests,awareness campaigns and fests,the orders are at an all-time high. “We are asked to print logos,slogans or even get plain caps with a particular design,” informs Shah. “Even though the size of this room and market has remain unchanged,the place has come a long way since the days of the Gandhi topi,” she adds with a smile.

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