Long before the commercial centre or the shopping mall, there were bazaars that stretched on both sides of the main street of the city. The still bustling Chandni Chowk market of 17th-century Shahjahanabad, Delhi, tells this story. For centuries, the pattern has been similar in towns and cities throughout India. Folklore, popular songs, and romances often refer to the great excitement surrounding the arrival of the bangle-seller, or an outing to the annual fair. Rabindranath Tagore has immortalized the ‘Kabuliwala’ in the story by the same name. Adapted for at least three feature films, this well-loved tale is about an Afghan who came from Kabul to Calcutta every year to go door to door, selling the dry fruit he brought with him from his home-land. Shops lined important streets and provided the impetus for vibrant social and commercial activity. These shops were an intended and essential part of the formal city. This built fabric, while giving the city’s architecture a character, also nurtured and sustained an important social space. Indeed, it possibly illustrates a strangely egalitarian or democratic urban-space sharing system in the sense that the governance in most of these instances was autocratic.