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Kashmir

Sunday Market, a famous shopping spot for locals, tourists

Mudassir Ahmad

Srinagar, Jun 06: As Mohammad Ashraf shouts “Sale, Sale, Sale, Le jaa Angreez Ne Bheja,” a group of youngsters from Thailand smile as their guide tries to explain to them quickly, “They are saying it is foreign made.”  Without any bargain the bunch of tourists purchased three jaggi’s (a kind of trousers) at a cost of just 900 rupees.

“Wow! This is incredible. We don’t believe in such a cheap rate. Very Good. Very Good,” they remarked and left the stall (cot) smiling.

Every Sunday shopkeepers call every passerby near Lal Chowk and sell different foreign brands of clothes, footwear, caps, quilts, blankets, socks, furnishing, books, chinese toys, towels, electric appliances, crockery and other day to day accessories.

What is surprising to see is that the foreign tourists buy the brands of their own countries, besides domestic tourists and locals. The sellers woo the customers by shouting catchphrases in various languages.

The sellers in the Sunday market say that their customers both locals as well as outsiders enjoy the shopping without any need to bargain as the products are already sold at cheaper rates.

Imran Ahmad, a young boy who sells different varieties of footwear for both men and women said that his customers not only include locals or domestic tourists but foreigners as well.

“I sold more than 30 shoes and sandals in a day and the costs range from rupees 200-500. But all are foreign made. Many guides bring foreigners from different countries,” he said.

When asked whether the tourist is aware that he is selling second hand foreign footwear, he smiles and said, “They don’t ask. So why should I tell them? When there is any visible defect on any footwear, I don’t give them the chance to complain as I tell them to purchase another or give them the replacement.”

Over the years, ‘Sunday Market’ has become a famous shopping spot not only for the poor sections of the society who cannot afford the high market accessories but also for the many  upper class people who come to the market in a very selective time to purchase the foreign brands at cheaper rates.

“The present rush of tourists in the valley has added to our clientele in an unexpected manner. Initially, we thought that the foreigners wouldn’t prefer to do shopping from local vendors but the response is overwhelming,” said Latief Ahmed, who sells home furnishings and clothes. “We have brought some selected accessories which we otherwise used to sell directly to shopkeepers,” he says.

One has to jostle his way every Sunday as the buyers throng the market in hundreds to purchase the different buys at cheap rates. Buyers pour out from local buses, cars, two wheelers while the majority prefer to walk on foot to enjoy the hustle bustle of the market.

Of late it has become shoppers’ point not only for the people of the valley, but now for tourists as well who wait for Sundays to purchase goods as compared to other markets at cheaper rates with a myriad of varieties. Besides, becoming the weekly flurry activity, the market is a source of livelihood to a lot of people.

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