A visual end to an era of Chennai shoppers
By Shyam Balasubramanian | ENS | Published: 09th November 2013 07:12 AM |
The shops that lined the platforms of Theyagaraya Road, known almost exclusively as Pondy Bazaar, are gone. What remains are but memories and a sense of nostalgia in the minds of the lakhs of women who not only patronised the huge stores on the stretch, but also oiled a mini economy through the pavement shops.
The shops have for decades been a mall of sorts for the unplanned shopper. Many would go to Pondy Bazaar to purchase clothes or household articles. But in a large number of cases it would be very unlikely that the women would walk away without having bought at least a hair clip, a scrunchy or other accessories.
“Till about six or seven years back, we used to do all our shopping at Pondy Bazaar. Whether it was Deepavali or Pongal or a birthday, that’s where we always went. My daughters and I always ended up buying some pretty hair clip or necklace or something like that,” says Rukmini, a clerk in a government office.
“At that point, we used to live in Virugambakkam, and Pondy Bazaar used to be the closest shopping hub. But things have changed, and we have stopped going all the way there. My daughters have also grown older and prefer to buy their stuff at malls or large clothing store chains. Their sensibilities have changed. But all three of us have fond memories of things we have bought there,” she adds.
The memories are not very different for Beula Jacob, a long-time resident of Velachery. “There were many shops across the city. But, Pondy Bazaar was always a favourite because there was always something to catch your attention. Even if I didn’t buy what we set out for, we would never return home empty handed. And that used to offer some satisfaction,” she says.
Even as such traditions continue among a vast number of mothers and daughters, it seems to have lost the raging force that once struck fear in the hearts of husbands and fathers. The younger crowd, which once turned out in full force in search of a bargain are now more content with spending an extra few bucks at more swanky, air-conditioned stores.
”I used to go there with my mom, and throw tantrums to get a few extra hair clips or fancy bangles which I could wear to school. I haven’t shopped there in years. But I have also not gone to a store in Pondy Bazaar during this time, and end up buying my stuff at one mall or the other,” says 25-year-old Priyanka Raman. “Now that the platform shops are gone, even the outside chance of my visiting Pondy Bazaar are gone. It would just look empty,” she adds.