Exploring the Depths of Palika Bazaar

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I first arrived in the capital city after graduating. The very sensation of graduating from a small town to a metro city, where there was much more freedom made me feel great.

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I strongly felt the desire to change my attire to fit into the metro culture, however the scanty pocket money of mine prevented me from looking towards glittering mall’s showrooms. At last, I was compelled to search out for other avenues which would not dig a bigger hole in my pocket and also simultaneously give me maximum returns at lowest cost.

The moment my shopping spree deviated from glittering showrooms, the first destination that came to my mind which would please my pocket was famous (or infamous) Palika Bazaar, New Delhi. The market which proudly boasts to be the only underground Air Conditioned market in Asia is quite renowned for being the underground haven of smuggled and pirated goods and excessive bargaining.

As I walked down through the stairs, the voices of shopkeepers clamoring to woo customers began to take over the air. The alleys were jammed with buyers and tourists who throng the place for shopping some dirt cheap goods. As planned, I started wandering in the overcrowded alleys towards the garments stores.

The moment I reach outside any garment store, the shopkeepers would circle me and sometimes even try to drag and cajole me to their shops. The shops also showcased a wide range of T-Shirts, Jeans and other accessories with deceptive brand names akin to popular ones (Reebok for Reehok, Pepe for Peppe etc.).

I halted at one of shops to look out for T-Shirts and within no time the shopkeeper started throwing out number of T-Shirts from the shelves to match my taste. Some of apparels also displayed handwritten plaques of 50%, 70% and even 90% discounts but surprisingly none of the garment had a price tag. I finally selected one and asked for the price. The shopkeeper gave a squint look at me and replied “900 Rupees”. I was astonished but didn’t show up on my face and recalled the first rule of bargaining which my parents often applied- “Start from half the price of what has been quoted.”

But since I was aware of the reputation of market, I went a bit ahead and confidently replied- Rs. 75. Now the expression of astonishment shifted to the shopkeeper’s face. He gave a disgusted look and said “We are already offering 50% discount on the apparel, what else you want..?”  His statement made no change in my bid although I was feeling a bit ashamed to have quoted a price of Rs. 75 against Rs. 900.

A few moments passed in silence and he grudgingly replied “Ok for you only… further discount to Rs. 500 and that final, take it or leave it.” If I had been shopping in some other market, I would not have dared to reject this offer, but since it was the renowned “Palika”, I raised the offer to Rs. 100 and started going back. As I started ambling towards other shops, the shopkeeper shouted several times and each time the price dropped like dwindling Sensex.

Finally, a deal was cracked at Rs. 120 and I had learnt the lesson on bargaining in Palika Bazaar. Later on I realized the quality of the stuff was not even worth what I spent. Not too happy with my choices, I was attracted to some electronic shops selling DVD’s, CD’s and other electronic items. I moved towards them in hope of buying some computer games DVD’s. I entered a shop and asked for the latest version of FIFA and he presented me with a rack full of CD’s and asked me to look on my own. I felt a bit strange because that not how you welcome a customer.

While I was searching desperately in the rack, one of salesman moved closer to me and showed some cards appearing to be some sort of coupons with 100, 200 and 500 written on it. He didn’t bother whether I paid attention or not and started to explain me the benefits of those ugly coupons. He claimed that I can get discounts on every electronic store in Palika Bazaar by showing those coupons and offered to sell me three Rs. 200 coupons for Rs. 100. I was tempted but also a bit sceptical considering the reputation of the market. Later on I overheard some noises in one end of market and on closer look it revealed that those coupons were fake. I sighed out in relief to be saved from temptation of coupons.

I did not find my FIFA CD and looked towards other store in search of them. I was chased and literally dragged by salesman offering to buy pen drives, Hollywood, Bollywood and software CD and when all of it didn’t worked out, they offered to sell latest porn CDs. But by now, I had put all my temptation to rest.

I entered another shop and again asked for the same CD. The whole sequence of last shop was repeated and I finally found what I looked for. I negotiated the price and a deal was arrived. By now the shopkeeper had become a bit friendly with me but soon I realized his ulterior motives. He presented me with a unique concept of “cash back”. I had heard about the concept earlier but could not correlate with the type of market I was standing in. But for all his nice talking and behaviour, I allowed him to explain. He told me that I would get “cash back” of 10% of my total purchases if I get one more customer for them in future and he also gave a his visiting card with my name written on its back side. Even though this sort of marketing of “cash back” was pretty novel and I doubted it but I kept the card as I didn’t had to pay extra.

I turned up again after few days along with my friend. He bought a 32 GB pen drive (officially such pen drive never existed at that time in market) and paid the agreed amount. I even selected some CD’s in order to claim my “cash back” but the shopkeeper blatantly refused to recognize me and his handwriting on the card. My face turned blue but there was nothing I could do except for walking away and the worst part- the pen drive also didn’t worked or it was never meant to work.