I forget when I first went to Sarojini Nagar Market. It was probably in 1981 when I was a student in Delhi. Always hunting for cheap but trendy clothes-most of us would take the blue and yellow Delhi Transport Corporation buses to either Janpath in central Delhi or to Sarojini(Nagar) market in South Delhi to play the sport of bargaining and buying.
My relationship with the market blossomed further when on our last posting in Delhi we stayed in one of the beautiful D-II flats in the leafy locality of Chanakyapuri–with Sarojini Market a bare kilometre away. My daughter and I would find innumerable excuses to go to the market and return triumphant with an article of clothing,junk jewellery, crockery, bed linen, towel, bag,fresh vegetables–the list goes on. Oh ! And did I mention the most important thing ? It was all so very cheap ! Most things selling today at an average price of Rs 200 or Euro 4 !
Named after Sarojini Naidu,the poet and freedom fighter, this market is in its own way a microcosm of the diversity of India–there are about 200 regular shops selling anything from electronics to suitcases to clothes–and about 500 vendors on the streets– an incredible number !
This time round I HAD to go again–it is, after all, my Mecca in Delhi.
I don’t mind crowds-and it can be quite crowded- and I usually stick to the vendors- that is where the thrill lies of discovering a fabulous piece of clothing that is just right.
Interestingly there is a distinct division of business between communities and states.
Jewellery is sold by beautiful Rajasthani men and women. I found groups of these lovely women in gorgeous orange chunnis(long scarves)
Clothes,which are usually export surplus, are sold by men from Uttar Pradesh, more specifically from the region of Azamgarh .They are usually happy when I lapse into a dialect which is similar to theirs and tell them I from a city near theirs but smart business people that they are, they refuse to bring down their prices too much !
Belts and socks by men from Bihar
The regular shops, of course,are owned by the predominant community of Delhi, the enterprising Punjabis. The actor John Abraham, I found, was promoting VIP suitcases outside a shop-
After you have shopped for yourself and your entire household you can stop by for the famous Delhi chole-bhature (spiced chick peas served with fried bread)and chaat ( a range of crisp-sweet-sour-hot-cold snacks that Indians love to eat). And you return home feeling very satisfied.
This picture I had to put in-that of Sarla–a lovely young woman from Rajasthan who posed for me-showing off her ear-rings-
Just look at the riot of variety and colour–don’t you just love it ?