This summer, though it has been hard and long resulting in a great loss, it has also been filled with small moments of relief. This relief, when it came, came in the company of my young niece and nephews. Caught up in one’s own grief and loss it is easy to lose perspective, to forget the larger picture and to get trapped in the here and now,forgetting the cyclical nature of life.The old depart: the young are on the threshold of the adventure called life.

When the duties and formalities of us adults had been done (with ample support and help from the younger generation) there remained a huge silence and vacumn.It was on one such forlorn morning that my niece broached the topic of going for shopping. She has just finished school and is on the threshold of the magical world of college life,hostel life and a life away from the familiar. Keen to get the shopping  for her new life done she sought us adults out to accompany her.

So off we went, three adults and one teen to Delhi’s well known Sarojini Nagar market…..It was the hottest day of the summer and the tar was literally melting off the roads when we finally reached the market place. The normally laid back girl who seeks the comfort of the air conditioner the whole day  seemed to suddenly metamorphize into a heat loving, bargain seeking hunter…hunter of the best bargain on tops,dresses,jootis, bags and other assorted accessories.

We traipsed behind her the whole morning convinced that one of us three adults would surely collapse from the heat. We sought shade in by lanes and under shop awnings, we looked for any little ledge or step to throw ourselves down on and rub our aching feet but the teen showed no sign of being done for the day.This is a photo blog of our ardous trekking in the wake of a girl on a mission.

 

Every slipper/sandal in this shop is for Rs. 100. When we asked the shopkeeper how long would each last, pat came the reply, “100 days madam.” Full marks for a prompt and extempore marketing spiel.

I have seen many mannequins in many different places but never before have I seen limb less torsos, so elaborately dressed, hung on a closed shop shutter. You can get any of these embroidered Salwar Kameez sets for anywhere between Rs. 300-650 approx.

  If saree is more your style you can pick from these road side stalls or move up the value chain and buy a whole wedding trousseu from some shops in the inner quadrangle of the market. For guys there are T-shirts(in the back ground).All are cheap copies of reputed brands.

 One can buy any of these ‘designer ‘ bags for Rs.200.There are Pradas,Guccis,Versaces and unnamed beauties here in all sorts of materials and colors.

It is in the side lanes and cul-de sacs like this one that the best and most sought after bargains are to be found.Known as the ‘export surplus’ market it is here that the college girls and the well-heeled women from the posher areas of delhi come in search of the trendy and the in- vogue western attire. Long before the malls arrived with the phoren brands these markets were already supplying the latest European trends to desi buy
ers at mouth watering rates.It is equally popular with the expats.It is not unusal to see cars with diplomatic number plates parked in this market.The westerners usually beat even us Indians at haggling down the price of everything.
As a rule never pay anything more than Rs.125 for a top, a dress, skirt or bermuda shorts and never more than Rs.200 for a bag. This rule ofcourse is for the footpath bazaar not the shops.They have their own rates and margins.In these lanes you can find blouses from Zara,Topshop,River Island,Marks and Spencer etc and T-shirts from Puma for Rs.100-125. I got two Zara Basics tops for a grand sum of Rs. 200 !!
 

Talking of the footpath bazaar…….it is illegal actually but that doesn’t deter the hundreds of hawkers here. The NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Corporation) raiding van provides the daily dose of adrelin and excitement here.Much before they enter the market the buzz spreads and all the hawkers rush at break neck speed to clear the roads and lanes.They have an ‘understanding’ ( a peculiarly Delhi phrase) with the shop wallahs who allow them to bundle their wares into the shops.
But still on every round the corporation guys do manage to catch a few hapless and less connected hawkers who then have to bundle their wares into large plastic sacks and get on to the NDMC van.I suspect after a bribe has been negotiated the same hawkers return to carry on business as usual.The entire market knows the routine,route and raid timngs of the NDMC so it is all a bit of a joke: a well orchestrated play in which each member knows the part he has to play (bribe taker,bribe giver – the tormentor and the tormented) and all is done with a surprising lack of rancour.

 

Five minutes after the NDMC van exits a lane it is business as usual and the wide lane of minutes ago begins to look like this!

We were allowed some refreshments (after much pleading) at around 2.00 P.M by the supercharged, young shopper with us and an hour later we read the riot act to her and threatened to leave without her.She frantically ran around for that ‘green ‘Kolhapuri’ that would go just right with a dress she had picked earlier. In the end the three ageing escorts won the argument and we all bundled into an oven hot car for the long ride back.

P.S: The joy with which my niece cat walked for us in all her new purchases more than made up for the scorching heat and the many miles walked.
 If you visit Delhi do visit this market.
Caution: It is super crowded on weekends.

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