Pondy Bazaar Porukkals

And today was the Big Day.


Correct. Shopping Day.

In less than 2 months, your truly will be an embloyed womans. What does this call for? Celebration, of course, and new clothes. And shoes. And bags. And- yes, a long list. So I made a list of everything I need and everything I don’t need but simply have to have, and we set out – self and friend – to Pondy Bazaar.

Shopping in Pondy Bazaar is a kvlt experience. Those of you who have been there, bear with me while I enlighten the rest of India’s deprived population. Walking on the footpath is necessarily a joke, because there is no footpath. Where yesterday there was a footpath (presumably), today there stands an Encroachment selling stickers of Winnie the Pooh or “Nightie, medaam! Nightie paakkaringla? (you want to see nightie?)” or various wallpapers of some scenic location and a caption that exhorts you to “Rise and Shiene- for Tomorrow is Another Day” (Manimekalai Printers).

Not that I mind in the least- for one, the sheer variety is mind-boggling. “Ear-rings, medaam?” he asks benignly, the Encroachment Entrepreneur, as a firang stands bemused by it all, and the EE declares with a sweep of his hand, “What colour? I have all colour! All type! Ring shape, metal, white metal, blastic. All.” A little smile of modest pride lights his face. “Indian rings you are want?”, pausing to glare at the neighboring EE who takes the opportunity to shove a pair of ethnic footwear at her, announcing triumphantly “CHEPPALLLS!!” At these times, I nod and shake my head and gesticulate wildly and he ignores me, the Average Indian Shopper. At any other time, I am welcomed with a smile, but not when Foreign Exchange stands. I understand and respect his priorities and move on.

Thus rebuffed by him, I wander along into Mochi and stand gaping at the counters. A young Amit type salesman dressed Β in jing-chan yellow corners me and invites me to try on footwear with terrible prices discreetly scribbled onto the leather insides of the shoes. I resist and then fall in love with a pair of blue denim outside/leather inside shoes with a tiny bit of a faded gold thingie on top. I loll about trying this and that, but he’s seen my eye falling on them. He makes the Pitch.

“Medaam, aap yeh try karo?”

He holds out the blue shoes, more like magnets now to me.

I hesitate.

“Bas, pehnke dekho, madam. Bahut accha lagega. Bas ek baar pehnke dekho aap”, he urges, watching my face for the slightest sign of capitulation.

I take them from him, and then try them on and sit, in heaven.

“Lekin itne costly hain!” I make a sad face and determinedly refuse to take them.

A steely glint enters his eye. He begins to babble, everything from the comfort of the leather, to how good they will look with my denims, the lifelong care system of Mochi Shoes, egging me to walk around in them, how shoes are not about the price, but about the quality, cut, wearability and brand…

Thirty minutes later, I’m charging the shoes to my platinum card and wondering if the MBA has helped at all. At any rate, his non-MBA-aided Global Gas is of much better quality than mine. Except pointing out how these new shoes will help eradicate pollution and thus contribute my bit toward Copenhagen, he has said nearly everything else in a penetrating voice. I have a new respect for salesmen. This one beams at me as I exit, his eyes no doubt counting commission. I want to scowl, but chee- I mean, one must be gracious in defeat. Besides, the shoes are muchly cute. I smile back.

Once out, I do the general PB round, past Nalli. The crowd ebbs and surges AΒ maami outside Kumaran Silks looks me up and down and then, in a supposedly low-pitched voice, remarks to her daughter-in-law: “No bindi! And low neck shirt!” WTF moment of the day, peoples. A turtleneck… low cut? Really?? Meanwhile, a Roadside Romeo sings as he cycles past, “Loyola College Laila!” he trills, grinning meaningfully before he cycles out of my life. A loss that I will keenly feel for days to come, undoubtedly.

A tee, one dressy top which I promise myself I will wear at the nearest opportunity, and one obligatory pair of cheppallls! from the EE later, I stagger home, plotting the next venture.

Many thanks to Sruthi Radhakrishnan for her shopping assistance, the Saravana Bhavan chutney-chaat-chat session and general company.


14 thoughts on “Pondy Bazaar Porukkals

  1. To this date I havent had a single Amit talk to me in Hindi by himself unless I show off my Hindi skills (devoid of grammar and gender anyway:P) I intrigued by such mamis who cant differentiate between turtlenecks and low necks. This I-cant-stand-if-other-girls-wear-sexier-clothes attitude has always amused me. Strange that even mamis display it at times:P

  2. Maamis are like that only. But they won’t protest if their daughters wear clothes like that! What about men driving past you so close that they could easily have hit you?

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  4. You forget Saravana Stores. Things are pretty cheap, but oh god – I’m not sure if I’d pay extra just to get rid of their crowds. And their billing system is terrible. A typical bill will read like this


    It’s so annoying. None of the items are explicitly identified. What the “food” on your bill is can only be known if you match the price. Still, I visit there at least once every time I’m in Chennai

    BTW. I think one of the stores in that area – I don’t remember which one – gave away free vegetables with purchases above 1000, 5000, etc

    • Lol- your memory! I agree with the Saravana Stores bill. If you go there purely for groceries etc, it is Food all the way down till the grand total. I don’t think people even cross check there. You either Take Bill and collect items or Death. Take or Death.

  5. Gee… Thank heavens you said PB and not Ranganathan Street. Wouldn’t have read the rest of the post πŸ˜›

    Pondy is the one-stop shop for bags and chappal porukkals! *drool* πŸ˜€ Oh man, do I miss the velrika and maanga slices or what!
    Lollers at low-neck shirt. Give it to ’em girl. The quintessential maami πŸ™‚ ROFL at Loyola college Laila!! πŸ˜€ Wossstttu!! πŸ˜›

    • Ranganathan Street = #FAIL. Crowd is fine, but no buy-ability value. 😦
      Haha! Why miss the food? Where are you based out of now? I just got back from Jamshedpur and I’m making up for all that missing.
      πŸ˜€ Low neck was the high point of my day. And yes- my self esteem is regularly boosted by cycling connoisseurs.

      • +1 on buy-ability value.

        I am in Delhi now. Jampot.. XL right? read in the about me section of the page πŸ™‚ Enjoy Madraaaass till the next sabbatical comes your way πŸ˜€ Got a call too, not very hopeful though 😦 Bless you with more of the cycling varieties πŸ™‚

    • Heh.
      Because maapilai was right behind them and maami had a proprietary hand on him. Maattu ponnu reaction no idea, I couldn’t very well stare at her face as well, it would mean stopping, pushing 2-3 people and then staring. πŸ˜€ Though I’d have loved to! M-ponnu was wearing salwar.

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