Moore Market: Those were the days when….

Moore Market was the ultimate flea market, with just about anything available, including all manner of birds and animals as pets in the courtyard. My brother and I were regulars, combing the book shops for book bargains and comics that were collector’s items, for we were avid readers of books & comics.

With regular trips to Moore Market, we managed to collect the entire Tarzan series, all of William, some of Biggles, lots of PG Wodehouse, Isaac Asimov and so on. We also managed to lay our hands on the earliest editions of Phantom comics (they used to draw him with his eyes showing through the mask!), the first Magnus- Robot Fighter comics, and a lot of Tarzan comics with drawings by Russ Manning, an artist who we felt best captured the magic of Tarzan. (Yes, we had, and still have, quite a collection of comics!)

The trip to Moore Market used to be quite a trek. By bus to Central Station, then the walk across to Moore Market. Stop by the stall at the entrance for a cold Rose Milk (do you get this stuff nowadays?!) Then into the magic of Moore Market where you could easily spend the day browsing. The book shop owners would welcome us since we were regulars, and let us browse to our hearts content. Knowing full well that if we found anything we liked, we’d buy it.

No, we weren’t rich, but had a dad who was very supportive of our reading habit. You see, he used to be the Professor & Head of the English Department, Madras University, when the university controlled colleges across Tamil Nadu. Professors weren’t very well paid in those days, but he used to freely let us buy books & comics, as he loved to see us read. I daresay he used to read both the books & comics too! His wealth was some six thousand literary books at home, from classics to modern literature, some of which we used to read.

Then there was all the other cool stuff you could get at Moore Market. Like used army shirts! When I was in college, it was cool to wear used army shirts with jeans and boots. Since they were available at Moore Market from five rupees to eight rupees, I had a few! The more frayed and darned the better (the level of cool went up!)! I had one with a hole in the collar that had been darned, and the feeling was, by golly, that must’ve been a bullet hole! Anyway, those were the days!

Sadly Moore Market is no more, done in buy a fire that has raised a lot of questions. The city has been left the poorer by the obliteration of not just a famous brick-work landmark that was well laid out with courtyards in the middle, but by the eradication of a flea market that served diverse interests. It was part of the history of Madras, and was unique in that no other city had a similar institution. Moore Market was made possible by the British Raj’s presence in Madras, as was Spencer’s. Another landmark and institution that was decimated by a mysterious fire.

1 Comment so far

  1. G V Balasubramanian (unregistered) on July 8th, 2006 @ 11:56 pm

    Great post, David. This morning I went to Central Station and I had a glimpse of the place where Moore Market was. I remember going there first to buy toys, later on to buy stamps for collection, fish tanks and varieties of ornamental fishes, then to buy comics and later to buy books while in College. All of them had gone in a fire accident. Now also there is a book market selling books. I had gone there some time back to buy books for my daughter. It was not the same Moore Market what we had seen in 60s and 70s

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