Small is Big – The Real CP Market

Bustling and lively, the Connaught Place market is a hub of frenzied shoppers and gallivanting teenagers. What is it that attracts them to the hawkers selling their stuff despite the branded showrooms that the place flaunts? Dipti Jain finds out.

The horseshoe structure of the Connaught Place market sure spells its wonders for the hawkers selling their wares on the circular walk. The small roadside stalls have never feared the coercing effect of the huge showrooms. A livening, cheerful escape from the mad rush of a typical city life, these stalls preserve the vestiges of the old, ‘Indian’ Delhi.

22 year old Richa Puri believes it is these vendors who define the soul of the place. “From traditional ornaments and beautiful Rajasthani footwear to cotton wares and curios, these hawkers sell everything at dirt-cheap prices. Haggling is the key word though,” she smiles.

Smack in the heart of the city – CP is an oxymoron, an upside down, inside out town in itself. An epicenter of shopping, the place presents a sharp contrast – multinationals lining the street, some of the finest restaurants, eateries and bars on one end, and bubbling lively little shops selling accessories right across. Despite the Levis-es, Reeboks and Benettons that flank the market, these vendors have managed to keep for themselves a good chunk of the customers.

For 35 year old Anjali Mishra, the market has remained to be her favourite shopping destination for years now. “CP is a perfect blend of both traditional and western markets. One can buy expensive clothes and pair them up with cheap, artificial accessories available,” she says.

A few steps from the market, and you come to the famous Palika Bazar- an underground shopping complex, with a buy-all-under-one-roof concept. Shelly Robert, a tourist from the beautiful city of Paris is bemused at the confused assortment of virtually everything that the place sells. “It is my second visit to New Delhi, and every time I come I make sure I come to Palika to buy clothes, shoes and bags. We don’t get things so cheap there,” she says. Another must visit for these foreigners is the Janpath and the Central Cottage Industries Emporium.

But while the popularity of these vendors have enabled them to retain their customers through the test of the proliferating craze for the western market, the several rounds of beautification for the CWG did take a toll on their incomes. Hameed Sharma, a stall owner complains, “I was made to shift my shop from the inner circle to outside the Palika Bazar. I was lucky as many of my friends were driven away completely from the market,” he says.

Another vendor Hari Kumar loves each day of his life at the market. “I sell ornaments and bags. Though I do not earn a lot, it is sufficient to support my family. It is a great place to work as many foreigners come and buy stuff from us,” he sighs, relieved.

Amid the buzz of busy office-goers, college teens with earphones plugged into their ears- (in a wasted attempt to escape the din around) and frantic shoppers, these hawkers have an identity of their own. Another stall owner says, “For us CP still remains to be the smaller picture of Delhi. The place, as I hear in the gossips of the youngsters who flock around, is sure ‘happening’. For us though, it remains to be a good business outlet.”

Dipti Jain

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