This is a guest post written by Radha from The Musings of a Night Owl. I would like to thank Radha for accepting to share her bazaar experience on this blog. Radha writes about the Fashion Street in Mumbai which was a place much frequented by those of us who grew up in Bombay. Within the informal street bazaars, there are some that grow to be an undeniable part of the urban space of the city.
Hawkers and street vendors are a part of life in India. And life is unimaginable without them. Both for the conveniences they provide or the nuisance and hindrance they create. Each town and city has its popular roadside markets. The Supreme Court has pointed out that, the use of public streets and pavements is first meant for the use of the general public; they are not laid to facilitate the carrying on of private business (Supreme Court in Bombay Hawkers' Union vs.Bombay Municipal Corporation – AIR 1985 SC 1206). They have also laid down guidelines for hawkers.
Mumbai has been divided into Hawking Zones, Prohibited Zones, and Rest of the City. Hawking zones need to have demarcated pitches on roads selected as per stated criteria. This would accommodate around 23,000 hawkers, selected by lottery every year. One such hawking zone that is very popular in Mumbai is the Fashion Street. Located on the M G Road between Cross Maidan and Azad Maidan under the shade of some lovely large old banyan trees, the place is ideal for those looking for trendy clothes and accessories at a bargain.
Branded clothes, that one might imagine being purchased at a boutique store, would probably have been bought for a song at the Fashion Street. Around 200 stores of sheer shoppers delight. Items stocked are export rejects, maybe for a missing button, a cross print, wrong size, but otherwise excellent quality. Prices quoted initially would be in excess of what one might expect at a high end store. The trick is to start at about half the price and gradually arrive at a price agreeable to both. The vendors here may seem uneducated but are good at a smattering of all languages both Indian and foreign.
I was with a group, that had a respite from wedding festivities. Off for a bit of sight-seeing, without any serious intention of shopping, we landed at this place. My sister-in-law picked up some stylish dresses for her grandchildren.
At one store, I looked at a pair of sandals, more out of curiosity. The vendor was attending to someone but when he caught my glance, immediately pulled out a stick to bring down the sighted pair. And quoted a price of Rs. 400/-. Seeing my disinterest he lowered the price a bit. I walked away, he did not pursue. Probably waiting for a reaction. I had already walked maybe a hundred yards away looking at another stall, when he walked up to me, asked me to return and take the sandals at ¼ th the cost. It was a size too small for me, but at Rs. 100/- it was a steal, and I could always find someone who could fit into them.
After an hour at Fashion Street we walked away with loads of packets in our arms. Purchases at a bargain. It did not really matter if we had use for them or not.