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Fancy Bazar had only around 100 shops in 1940s

By AJIT PATOWARY

GUWAHATI, Oct 12 - Around 70-75 years back, in the 1940s, Fancy Bazar had only around 100 shops and most of them were dealing in grocery items. Some of these shops were dealing in cloths, apparels and glasswares, while some others were dealing in brass and bell-metal items, said leading cloth merchant, octogenarian RN Goenka.

He told this correspondent that at that time the biggest of the Fancy Bazar shops was the Kalicharan Book Sellers owned by the Bharalis of Kumarpara area in Guwahati. This shop dealt in various items like Horlicks, different brands of biscuit, hair oil, perfumes, shaving items, bathing soaps etc., as dealers.

Kunja Thakur�s shop was the second largest shop in Fancy Bazar area then and it dealt in grocery items.

At that time, there were around six cars in Fancy Bazar area. The cars were owned by Ram Kumar Himatsingka, Saligram Sunilal Bahadur (after whose name the SRCB Road is named), Ganesh Das Sriram (who was the owner of the Kelvin Cinema halls in Guwahati and Shillong), Arindam Kothari (owner of the Bargola), Dasuram Mirjamal (who owned 17 rice mills at various places of the State) and Jwala Prasad Sikaria.

The makers of the cars were Ford, DeSoto, Hillman, Chevrolet etc., automobile companies. At that time a gallon (four litres) of petrol used to cost Rs 2 and 12 annas.

Most of the well-known traders then used to take part in the haat (weekly or bi-weekly markets held in the suburban areas) business. RN Goenka, for example, used to go to the Sonapur Haat every Saturday with his father late Madan Lal Goenka and elder brother late Sawal Ram Goenka (founder of the Goenka Wool House), taking a bazar bus. RN Goenka also used to go to the Beltola Haat every Sunday with his father and elder brother on pony carts. The Goenkas used to sell penny frocks, vests and children�s clothes.

In those days, customers at the haats were so simple and ignorant that most of them did not know that four paise used to make one anna and 16 annas used to make a rupee.

While the roadside structures in Fancy Bazar area then were CI sheet-roofed, clay plastered, wooden framed Assam Type ones, behind them some thatched houses also existed and these were used for storing firewood and as cowsheds.

Most of the land in the area belonged to Muslim families, who had migrated from the erstwhile East Bengal. They owned more than half of the Fancy Bazar area and the rest of the land in that area belonged to Assamese Hindu families, said Goenka.

At that time, electric bulbs used to illuminate Fancy Bazar and other parts of Guwahati town. Electricity was supplied to the residents of the town by the power company owned by Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, who became Chief Minister of West Bengal in the post-Independence period.

There was no pucca/black topped road at Fancy Bazar at that time and during the dry season, the municipal water tankers used to sprinkle water on the roads to keep them wet to prevent dust pollution.

Fancy Bazar was full of mosquito, dirt and foul smell at that time, as the municipality did not clean its drains and roads regularly.

But despite this, the petty food item vendors, who used to sell mustard oil, sugar, gur (jaggery), muri (puffed rice), chira (flattened rice) etc., used to sell their items sitting by the drains. They used lanterns and table lamps for the purpose of illumination, said Goenka.

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Fancy Bazar had only around 100 shops in 1940s

GUWAHATI, Oct 12 - Around 70-75 years back, in the 1940s, Fancy Bazar had only around 100 shops and most of them were dealing in grocery items. Some of these shops were dealing in cloths, apparels and glasswares, while some others were dealing in brass and bell-metal items, said leading cloth merchant, octogenarian RN Goenka.

He told this correspondent that at that time the biggest of the Fancy Bazar shops was the Kalicharan Book Sellers owned by the Bharalis of Kumarpara area in Guwahati. This shop dealt in various items like Horlicks, different brands of biscuit, hair oil, perfumes, shaving items, bathing soaps etc., as dealers.

Kunja Thakur�s shop was the second largest shop in Fancy Bazar area then and it dealt in grocery items.

At that time, there were around six cars in Fancy Bazar area. The cars were owned by Ram Kumar Himatsingka, Saligram Sunilal Bahadur (after whose name the SRCB Road is named), Ganesh Das Sriram (who was the owner of the Kelvin Cinema halls in Guwahati and Shillong), Arindam Kothari (owner of the Bargola), Dasuram Mirjamal (who owned 17 rice mills at various places of the State) and Jwala Prasad Sikaria.

The makers of the cars were Ford, DeSoto, Hillman, Chevrolet etc., automobile companies. At that time a gallon (four litres) of petrol used to cost Rs 2 and 12 annas.

Most of the well-known traders then used to take part in the haat (weekly or bi-weekly markets held in the suburban areas) business. RN Goenka, for example, used to go to the Sonapur Haat every Saturday with his father late Madan Lal Goenka and elder brother late Sawal Ram Goenka (founder of the Goenka Wool House), taking a bazar bus. RN Goenka also used to go to the Beltola Haat every Sunday with his father and elder brother on pony carts. The Goenkas used to sell penny frocks, vests and children�s clothes.

In those days, customers at the haats were so simple and ignorant that most of them did not know that four paise used to make one anna and 16 annas used to make a rupee.

While the roadside structures in Fancy Bazar area then were CI sheet-roofed, clay plastered, wooden framed Assam Type ones, behind them some thatched houses also existed and these were used for storing firewood and as cowsheds.

Most of the land in the area belonged to Muslim families, who had migrated from the erstwhile East Bengal. They owned more than half of the Fancy Bazar area and the rest of the land in that area belonged to Assamese Hindu families, said Goenka.

At that time, electric bulbs used to illuminate Fancy Bazar and other parts of Guwahati town. Electricity was supplied to the residents of the town by the power company owned by Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, who became Chief Minister of West Bengal in the post-Independence period.

There was no pucca/black topped road at Fancy Bazar at that time and during the dry season, the municipal water tankers used to sprinkle water on the roads to keep them wet to prevent dust pollution.

Fancy Bazar was full of mosquito, dirt and foul smell at that time, as the municipality did not clean its drains and roads regularly.

But despite this, the petty food item vendors, who used to sell mustard oil, sugar, gur (jaggery), muri (puffed rice), chira (flattened rice) etc., used to sell their items sitting by the drains. They used lanterns and table lamps for the purpose of illumination, said Goenka.