It's a seemingly innocent lane, devoted entirely to all that is oh-so-essential to the process of dolling up - be it the clothes, shoes, jewelry, hair accessories, bits of ribbons and sequins, or bangles of every color, material and fantasy. In an area choc-o-bloc with the shopping aspirations of the largely local citizenry, browsing myriad nooks to explore, Lad Bazaar holds onto its own with just its single, power-packed protagonist. For, the wrist wear on sale here is unparalleled in its extent and variety.
Most of the customer base is made up of demurely burkha-clad, kohl-eyed nymphets, or their counterparts in gaily colored lehenga-cholis, matrons dragging uncooperative progeny, and their slightly reluctant menfolk. The stray out-of-towner or even the obvious foreigner, serendipitously here on account of the twin local attractions of the Charminar
and the Mecca Masjid
, gets caught up in this milling crowd making its way to the bangles.
Ah, and the bangles - those hoops of glass that make the wearer feel instantly feminine and that are so imminently ephemeral, they truly epitomize lad
, literally meaning "indulgence". For that's what it is, spending hard-earned money on apparently non-essential, transient items to indulge a loved one's fantasy.
But then things have never been what they seem, and here, too, the drama plays out, on this half-a-kilometer stretch of narrow road, forking off from the Charminar. For it is not just the article itself, but the process - the process of buying these accessories. The matching of colors, the exulting over the perfect kind, the almost painful squeezing to coax the bangles over the wrist and the ultimate jangling to check out the wares... and the approval. It's all in the process.
And in the haggling. In dulcet tones, and in a manner that is so quintessentially Hyderabadi - you can technically be quoted a price that could, at the time of the actual sale, be a fourth of it. The trick is in not looking incredulous (or in wondering what the actual 'actual' price might have been).
It's only here, on this confined, crowded lane, that you could find wigs, heavily embroidered velvet pankhas and bedcovers, lace and gold borders, silver paan-daanis and bridegrooms' turbans and more things than you went there looking for. Perhaps, even parking space, which incidentally is just off the Charminar in the compound of the Nizamia General Hospital (Unani).
Lad Bazaar is a place that warrants a visit while in the vicinity of the Charminar - if not for actual purchase, definitely to see what accessorizing, haggling, deftly avoiding imploring salesmen and getting a glimpse of the Old City of Hyderabad is all about.