Digging up treasures and antiques from around the country has been Yasin Ali’s day job for the past 17 years. Come evenings, Ali moonlights at his antique shop, Ali’s Handicrafts, which is tucked away in the bylanes of upscale Colaba.
This one's a reservoir of all things gold. Memories packed up in gorgeous chandeliers, lamps, cufflinks and everything else that the eye catches. We dropped in to have a chat with Ali over a cuppa of chai, and found ourselves transported to the era that is relegated to dusty shelves and antique stores like these.
Ali is a dealer in all things antiques. He sources his pieces from Maharashtra, Gujarat, and even South India, making his way to houses in villages and far-flung locations.
He told us how his business has now moved on to Whatsapp, which we are told is a positive transition. The store in itself is tiny and full of unique and affordable antique pieces set atop the glass shelves. Here's what we loved:
Ancient Locks: He has a great collection of locks which he's collected from far off hamlets and some are even from the royal families. For instance, we found this 250-year old lock at the doorstep, hung between its relatively newer counterparts. It’s made of brass and in Ali’s own words, “full proof of thieves”.
Polaroid Postcards: Hidden behind in the glass cupboard were these Polaroid postcards. A box filled with 20 odd Polaroids, it’s for suckers like us who love collecting old photos and postcards. These tiny postcards are basically photographs of the popular landmarks of different countries. There’s Colosseum in Rome, Gateway of India in Mumbai, The Eiffel Tower in Paris and all the other magical places you can think of. The price of these start from INR 1,500.
Vinyls: Go retro with his timeless collection of vinyls. These vinyls are mostly old with torn covers on them but really popular with the collectors. The ‘New Theatre’s Megaphone’ or ‘The Columbia Records’ labelled vinyls full of Lata Mangeshkar’s voice, or late Kishore Kumar’s soulful ballads – just waiting to blast our radio off. Price: INR 1,500 to INR 3,000.
And Other Hidden Gems: Then there’s your usual 350-year old coin maker, a priceless framed photo of the royals and a box full of royal cufflinks sourced from around the world. We found a starter’s pack for learning how to do embroidery with instructions, jewellery from around India and milk containers used during the British Raj. There was so much diversity in the items we found there, that one can easily spend at least half an hour there. Price: INR 800 upwards.