By Priyangwada Perera
Every Sunday, for the past ten years or more, I would think about Delhi. I imagine my undergraduate-self, coming back to the hostel after Sunday Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Ashok Vihar. I had to pass the famous shopping stretch at Janpath as I went to church. Officially Janpath Market is closed on Sundays. Therefore, on Sundays it is not the crowded marketplace that I pass. Nevertheless, it is beautiful to take a walk and I have bought things on Sundays since there are plenty of sellers to find. In Delhi, certain markets are closed on certain days. If you are to tour Delhi, you have to know about these days. Sadly, Chandni Chowk, Connaught Place, Janpath, Khan Market-shopping areas found in Central Delhi are closed on Sundays.
If you get the dates right, Delhi alone is a delightful place to shop. If you discard the expensive airfare, Delhi is one place where you do not have to have a lot of money to buy beautiful things. On a personal note, it gave me enough pleasure to walk past them, without even buying. That is just the difference between a tourist and someone living there for some time. You do not have to be in a mad rush buying everything you see. This, I feel is the luxury an Indian can afford. Unlike in Sri Lanka, where some of our best products are neither available nor affordable for the ordinary Lankan, in Delhi you can just go to Janpath after College and buy all that you want.
Janpath was one of the many places in Delhi that is a shopper’s paradise. They have everything, you name it and it’s there. What is more, the goods are cheap and of good quality. Janpath, meaning People’s Path, is said to have been formerly known as Queen’s Way. Today, it definitely is a people’s path. But it offers things fit for kings and queens as well. Even Bollywood celebs are known to visit the market. It is a foreigners’ delight. Starting as Radial Road 1 in Connaught Place (CP), adjacent to the other famous shopping place Palika Bazaar, it runs North-South perpendicular passing Rajpath. You do not really need to know all this.
Once you get to CP, it is not hard to find the place and the only way you would get lost is in what it has to offer you. From Delhiites, Indians from other places to foreigners from all over the world, the Janpath market is a real heart-stealer. It does not rob you in broad daylight. This is not really a place you should bargain, like you should in places like Palika Bazaar. Yet, if you are good at bargaining, the skill will always come in handy. Starting right from the first year, from whatever little Hindi we knew at that time, we bargained and got the items at amazing prices.
This is only a dream in Sri Lanka! Firstly, you hardly ever get to find them here. If at all you do find them at some luxury boutique, they are bound to be monstrously expensive. I used to buy three pairs of earrings in one go. Sometimes they were as cheap as 10 Indian rupees a pair. I have even bought some for five Indian rupees a pair. In Sri Lanka, ten years ago they would have cost me 500 LKR. The exotic, elaborate, handmade, knitted, silver plated, simple studs or the dangly jingles, shops are full of rare treasures.
You cannot miss the ornaments and home decor either. Cushion covers, curtains, bedspreads, radiant and unique, you cannot let go of. The next thing about CP is necklaces, followed by shoes. All bead-work and thread, the prettiest umbrellas you have ever seen would tempt you to get them. But, be warned that you may not want to get them wet. They are too beautiful to shield you from rain. Amidst all the surprises, if you are a booklover, in the middle of all this you would see the bookshop. That is one trove of treasure and surprises! The latest titles to the rarest are available and the seller is usually very well aware of what is available in his collection.
There are plenty of eating places and the best fresh fruit juice to be sold. If you want to spend one happy day at Janpath or run there for a couple of hours and get back to your hostel or pack up to rush to the airport, Janpath is the ideal place!