City Hangout – Sarojini Nagar Market, South Delhi
Everything and more.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Think of Sarojini Nagar, or SN, as the setting of a trashy fairy tale.
It is fit for a beautiful princess, robbed off her principality and left with little to buy a dress for the evening ball where she is to meet her dream prince.
A haven for bargain, SN is the people’s bazaar. On sale – T-shirts, skirts, frocks, jeans, sandals, saris, lehengas, nighties, hankies, bags, inflatable bathtubs, hair pins, toys, pillows, suitcases, plastic tulips, Italian softy and bunta drink, among other things unimaginable.
Every serious shopper converges here – from students on a budget to bored housewives, tourists from other Indian states, and East Europeans.
Fronting the larger shops and showrooms are hundreds of makeshift stalls – all lined with a colorful melee. Leather bags hang from tree branches, lurid pink bras wave in the breeze, T-shirts lie in untidy mounds, and tacky mannequins wearing halters startle you out of nowhere.
You can pick up T-shirts at Rs 50, dresses at Rs 200 and tops at Rs 100 – fashionable largesse from the world of export rejects.
You can even hunt for fake labels and walk away with Gap, Tommy Hilfiger and Lacoste – who’s to know anyway?
An anthropologist could write a book by sitting at the bazaar entrance and observing life: Old women sell lemons and guavas, middle-class matrons rest on benches, migrant workers dig up cable lines, caste-crossed lovers meet under the peepal trees, sunken-cheeked boys hawk handkerchiefs, showroom security guards grumble on cell phones, beggars drag themselves across the pavement, unemployed young men play carrom and chauffeur-driven memsahibs bargain over Rs 10.
SN is a kind of mad-fun place, where, laden with shopping bags, you can stop for Punjabi chhole bhathure, followed by Tibetan momos and Bengali rasgulla.
If you are the type that believes life was better 100 years ago, think again. Then there was no SN.
Nearest metro station INA Open 11am to 8 pm, Monday closed