On the first of July 2010 I visited Palika Bazar in Connaught place and was greatly disappointed by the state of things there! I remember, very many years back when I used to visit India with my parents, Palika Bazar in Connaught Place, Delhi was an important destination. We used to visit India during the Summer Vacations, and the Air-conditioning in Palika Bazar brought a welcome relief. My Parents had an NRI account at the Grandlays Bank at 10-E Connaught Place. After completing their work at the bank, we would all proceed to Palika Bazar. In 1984, business in Palika Bazar was flourishing. There were so many things in Palika Bazar, that it was a Shopper’s Paradise. My brother broke his heart for a sound-remote controlled car, and I settled for a UNICEFF Walkman (which incidentally served me many years!) My parents would buy lot’s of things to take back to Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. After the shopping in Palika Bazar, and perhaps Janpath, we would return to my grandmother’s house in Gurgaon, tired, but satisfied with our shopping!
Those memories were subjected to a great shock when I visited Palika Bazar on the first of July. Gone was the ambience of the past, the scent of ether and aggarbattis was absent, there were signs of construction and renovation everywhere, the air-conditioning ducts had been stripped down, and worst of all I noticed that the traders had a weary and tired expression on their faces. Their body language was some how wrong, it was as if they were helplessly looking for customers to turn up! While the ladies in our group drifted towards the shops selling garments, my brother and I drifted towards the counters selling pen drives, digital cameras, and various other electronic items. My brother was interested in one of the pen drives of a popular brand which had a label claiming it to have a capacity of 32 GB! I helplessly cast a warning glance at my brother, but he was hooked on to the pen drive. The shop-keeper brought down the price to Rs.200/- and my brother was the triumphant owner of a 32 GB pen drive! I was incredulous and requested the shop keeper to test the pen drive on a laptop. The laptop showed that the pen drive was indeed of 32 G.B. space! Well, we then proceeded to the camera market on the first floor. There, I was stumped to see a digital camera that I had bought for Rs.17000/- selling for Rs. 9000/-! (I had bought my camera from a proper Nikon show-room.) The price left me with a very bad taste in the mouth! I tried to hurry my brother away from the market!
After our return home, my brother went on to load data into his newly acquired pen drive. The total data loaded was of 4 G.Bs. He tested the pen drive, it showed that the data had been loaded. He breathed a sigh of relief, and I cursed my self for not having bought a similar pen drive! We forgot everything, and, the next day after returning from work, I asked my brother in the evening about how well the pen drive was working, and he replied, “The pen drive I loaded yesterday is blank, and the Data has vanished into thin Air!” We could barely stop ourselves from breaking out into laughter upon having been duped by the shop-keeper in Palika Bazar! How he must have been laughing at us, for thinking that we could buy a 32 G.B. pendrive for Rs.200/-!
Wherever I went, I could hear traders complaining about the Market being bad! I noticed that of all the visitors in the Bazar, very few were indeed buying anything. Traders seemed resigned to the fact that nobody was interested in buying anything at all!
It looks that the glory of Palika Bazar is now gone. The traders have lost good will among visitors by ripping off customers by selling them fake products. The only visitors to this once famous market seemed to be gullible and innocent Tourists! I thank my stars for not having thrown Rs.200/- on a 32 G.B. pen drive!