Of Loving The Crowd, Food And Bargaining: Can Malls Ever Replace Flea Markets?

Posted on October 1, 2012 in Specials

By Bhavita Kukreja:

Each one of us will have a different opinion when we sit and discuss this topic. Some might favor it and others might not necessarily agree. I feel that old markets should not be replaced by malls as they have a history and essence of their own, moreover they have an environment which malls certainly cannot match. In fact malls today are trying to create an environment which is reminiscent of such markets, for instance, in the case of Select City Walk in Saket, they have come up with the concept of a flea market. It however has not been as successful as they might have expected it to be, simply because flea markets have a natural element that these malls cannot recreate.

Foreigners flock in India to cherish our culture, the environment and the traditions that they don’t find elsewhere. They particularly enjoy going to places like Janpath, Sarojini Nagar and Dilli Haat and shop till they drop. There is something in the air that attracts the masses to come and shop and bargain in order to get hold of traditional Indian wear. Shopping in Chandni Chowk in Delhi is another experience in itself considering the fun in rushing through the crowd, travelling in the old rickshaws which have otherwise become extinct amidst the posh colonies of Delhi. It is not just the shopping experience but also the food which is mouth watering and difficult to resist. The shops in Chandni Chowk have an ancient architecture as they were built during the British Era and since then generations have been born and brought up there. Pune is another example where shopping in flea markets spells pure bliss.

There would be many who would disagree with me and say that parking is one major issue in these markets, especially Chandni Chowk in Delhi. However, I would like to point it out that I do agree that parking is a problem in these areas, but isn’t it exciting to go and search for parking and grab an empty spot before someone else comes and parks before you? For me, it certainly is an experience in itself. I can surely go to malls and park my car with ease because there is plenty of parking space available but that sheer excitement will be missing somewhere. Another argument that emerges is that the items that we buy from malls are more durable and we know the quality we are getting, so we don’t mind paying a little more. But tell me, if the things that we purchase don’t wither away soon, will we then get the opportunity to buy a new one? Also can we even bargain in malls? I can assure you that all those who have been to these markets and have experienced what bargaining is like will know that once you bargain and get the product at the price you desire, you feel like an achiever of sorts.

Therefore I feel that old market-places have their own values attached to them. Demolishing them and replacing them with malls is never a good idea. The generation to come will never know what it is like to be in places like Chandni Chowk. It is also not only about the earnings of the shopkeepers in such places but also about the withering away of these markets. India will lose one part of its culture which cannot be revived even after a hundred years. Malls may be important to the younger sections of the society, but if you ask them, many out there would prefer going to flea markets and bargaining their hearts out, than going to malls and paying a price fixed by the shopkeepers.

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Amarpreet Kaur

The charm of walking along the street, shopping for random stuff, savoring pani puris and aloo tikki by the roadside is a unique experience that a flea market has to offer. A mall on the other hand, gives one the option of shopping, watching cinema, eating out and chilling with friends; all at a single place. Not to forget the comfort of shopping in an air-conditioned environment!
Both have an identity of their own. Both can co-exist.

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