When a few days back my family and I visited Janpath, a flea market behind the LIC Building in in Connaught place, it was enough to revive memories of my college days in the middle eighties and early nineties. The only difference that I noticed on entering the lane was the presence of dysfunctional metal detectors, otherwise everything seemed to be the same. The hawkers shouting each other down, extolling the virtues of their wares, and the throwaway prices. As usual, the garments on sale have remained the same, shorts, sports shoes bearing well known brand names, Tee Shirts, track suits, skirts, and tops for women, sandals, pumps, midis, oxidized jewellery, and well almost everything in terms of garments and footwear for women and men. If you walk across to the main road adjacent to the lane selling garments then you will come to the permanent shops selling souvenirs, leather goods, decoration pieces, and paintings on cloth a veritable tourists’ paradise. Everything was the same as it had been twenty-five to thirty years ago! When I asked a vendor who was selling some of the most skimpy of skirts, where he had got the stuff from, he told me that it was export material that had been rejected and returned to the manufacturer. Well this was good enough for me!
In the days when I was doing my graduation, Janpath was a favoured destination, and I remember my friends provenance of the dresses that our female classmates were wearing and we arrived most often at the same conclusion that they had bought their clothes from Janpath. In those days as is true today, everything on that lane behind the LIC building can be had at a throwaway price. My brother wanted to buy a cap and a pair of shorts which he did for a couple of hundred rupees each. Of course, in those days of college as of now, you never advertised the fact that your purchase of that colourful wrap around or tee shirt was from Janpath!
It seems time has reached a standstill in some of the popular shopping destinations in Delhi, some of them being, Tank Road near Prasad Nagar for jeans where you can buy your favourite pair of jeans and get brand tags to go with them, or for that effect Sarojini Market in South Delhi, or perhaps even Lajpat Nagar Market. Bargaining plays an important role in all of these markets that is if you have the courage to bargain for half the price that is quoted by the shop keepers. Yes, the clothes that you buy from Janpath or Sarojini Market may not last a lifetime, but then they do present a good option if you plan to purchase the items at a throwaway price and don’t plan to use them too often! The idea, I guess is not to shop for expensive and durable items, but rather for the experience of bargaining, having a day out, and perhaps the chance of purchasing a garment that is latest in fashion! Well I guess the greatest draw that the lane behind the LIC building in Connaught place has is in its huge range of garments and oxidized jewellery items that are on offer there. So while you sip on your ‘Banta’, a sweetened Soda sweetened with fresh lime and condiments, you can humor your lady companion as she gloats over the stuff on offer. A market that offers value for money, considering the amount of fabric contained in that skimpy denim shorts ( that would cost you the earth in a shopping Mall) you might consider visiting Janpath, to humor your friend!
Janpath continues to be a popular shopping destination among young people, especially college going students, and other young people. A flea market that continues to be popular even today, after at least twenty-five years since I last visited it, I would recommend my readers to consider visiting it albeit with the advice to bargain to one’s heart’s level. If you want to buy that rather colourful skirt, or that colourful tee shirt, hey did I not see something of that kind in the Mall, the Janpath is the place to visit! And, if the visitor finds the stuff not to one’s liking then one can consider the visit as an outing and perhaps even savour some of the wonderful snacks on offer in some of the eating joints there. When I was courting the woman who is now my wife, I remember taking her to the Maharaja Restaurant for some wonderfully prepared Idlis and Dosas! But then that was eighteen years ago!
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