My many Indias. Bombay: Crawford Market, Victoria Terminus and Flora Fountain

Such lovely names: Crawford Market, Victoria Terminus, Flora Fountain, Hornimon Circle. All these places  have new official Indian names now, but there’s something charming about the old British names. They have a lovely ring to them.
Crawford Market was, until very recently, the biggest wholesale market for fruits and vegetable for Bombay. The little break in the tarp overhead lets in a long, vertical strip of light into the alleys of fruit and vegetable sellers, shoppers, men that carry in heavy baskets of produce on their heads, cats and dogs, broom sellers and beggars. I sat by Osmanbhai’s stall ( in the foreground, holding up a Pomegranate) and sketched while a chaiwala brought me piping hot cups of tea, courtesy of Osmanbhai. Nothing like a good cutting chai to keep me sketching.




This fruit seller spent a good hour lovingly arranging the fruit in his stall. A stand full of fruit is lovely, but it made me wish I were here in the mango season when the air is filled with the heady scent of mangoes ripening in crates of hay.

A mosque at the end of a busy street outside Crawford Market. Someone asked me how I capture the mad chaos and activity of India, and I tried to explain it. This is what I do: I watch the scene for a while. After a bit I start to see a pattern to the madness: what looks like a random moving mass of people has a flow and direction. Then I start to draw, always remembering that even though I’m drawing in the details: the people, the cats, dogs, cars, all of that, there is an underlying pattern. My challenge? To not make the scene look too structured and organized. This means drawing in the people that move against the general flow of the crowd, the handcart that parks itself in the middle of a street and disrupts the traffic…bombay_crawford2

Victoria Terminus Station. A huge Gothic structure built in 1887. The busiest train station in India with 18 platforms and what looks like a million people on them.
bombay_VTAnd some people I saw at the station. On a quiet Sunday.bombay_VT3

Flora Fountain is a busy circle with street vendors yelling louder than each other as they sell shirts. “Thick material” they say “Export Quality, only Rupees 300.”

Closeby is Hornimon Circle. (mention this to anyone and they will tell you Bombay’s first Starbucks is nearby) I didn’t go to Starbucks. But I did stop at a nearby Frankie stall and have 2 mutton frankies. At Hornimon Circle is St. Thomas Cathedral, an old church built in 1718. Step inside the church and you are transported to another world. The walls on the inside of this church have quaint eulogies to British soldiers who died in battle all over India. 
One more Bombay blogpost coming up soon, and then I’m off to Goa. All my India sketches, including tons I don’t blog, here in this flickr set.

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
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9 Responses to My many Indias. Bombay: Crawford Market, Victoria Terminus and Flora Fountain

  1. John Wright says:

    Suhita, I always enjoy your work, but this series from India is particularly engaging. You sure don’t shy away from complexity – love the market sketches.


  2. Emie says:

    I lived in Bombay back in the late 70’s (near the hanging gardens) when my dad was transferred there from the states…. no Starbucks back then. But I do remember the market and the train station…. thanks for bringing back some lost memories!!! LOVE your sketches!!!!! Emie


    • Emie, I often spent a weekend with my aunt who lived around the Hanging Gardens. You could wake up the the call of peacocks then… I don’t think that happens anymore. Glad th sketches brought back memories.


  3. Marvelous! I’m always glad you take us along on your journeys!


  4. Lee Kline says:

    The subjects of these sketches (I hardly dare call them that, they are so wonderfully complex) are what I hope to see if I ever get to India. In the top one, the old man seems to be keeping an eye on the cat. In the next, the depiction of the fruit seller – wonderful..In the next one, the woman in the sari. Friends have told me how amazed they are at the saris, how clean, how bright they are despite all. You are a treasure from whom I learn much.


  5. Steph says:

    Beautiful! I’m glad I don’t have to keep track of my kids in a train station like that!! Steph


  6. Wow! I have been following these recent India posts and they just keep getting better and better. The details and how you have translated the energy on the streets is amazing. I love every last one of them!


  7. Josh says:

    Good stuff. I liked it..I’m from south bombay..really nice


  8. meghnamuses says:

    Lovely, the style captures the mayhem of our streets 🙂


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