It’s Sunday, and for citizens in the National Capital Region, and indeed in most modern cities around the world, that usually means one thing: chores. So, at the end of a particularly productive Sunday you would have picked up all the items from your grocery list as well as dropped off your dry-cleaning, had your doctor’s appointment and the subsequent prescribed tests, smiled (or rather, grimaced) for your passport picture, purchased a present for an upcoming function and gotten it wrapped as well as bought a bottle of wine for the same, gotten someone to come repair your electrical fittings as home as well as selected a new mattress and its trappings, and you’ve deposited a cheque in your bank as well as squeezed in a quick stop to the salon to get some pampering. Naturally, you’d have had to fortify yourself in the midst of all this with a snack or a coffee or even a drink or a full lunch.
While this sounds exhausting, for the residents of Noida’s Sector-50, all this, and more, can be achieved within a 50 meter radius. When we were young, most neighbourhoods and colonies had one kirana store, and several shared a Mother Dairy, which provided for dairy, fruits and vegetables. For anything else, you needed to trek down to a commercial center, which had emporia of all manner of household goods. We didn’t have much of a choice.
Since then, India’s economy and markets (both macro and kirana) have opened up and we’re now spoiled for choice, whether it comes to products themselves as well as the different brands within those products to choose from. And while many neighborhood markets today have a fair selection of stores and eateries, Sector-50’s Central Market is on a whole other level. Within it’s fairly compact superstructure lie branches of most major Indian banks, several salons and spas, three Indian sweet stores, two bakeries and patisseries, various chemists and stationers, a meat shop as well as a more elaborate abbatoir and charcuterie, an opthamologist and other opticians, a photo studio and a veterinary clinic. Other medical practitioners have also set up shop there, amid the dry cleaning stores and supermarkets. There are also home electronic centers which sell and service everything from wall clocks to solar water heaters, as well as home furnishing outlets.
There are toy shops and also a medical path lab, the two businesses being unconnected apart from both hosting snotty kids. Oh yeah, and there are more than 40 restaurants, not including the way too many to enumerate street food vendors. In case, you were thinking that that’s a lot to pack into an area with less floorspace than a small mall’s parking lot, you would be correct. And indeed, thanks to the frenetic retail activity and the sheer volume of cars (and their horns) trying to go in and out of the market while pedestrians weaved between the vendors and push-carts sprawled across walkways, it was madness, with nothing Spartan about this excess. If there’s anything that can be learned from all this, it’s that what matters when it comes to commercial success is location, location, location.
Locals received a surprise...
It was only recently, after civic authorities restricted all the vendors to a separate road adjoining the market, that traffic snarls have been combed out. So, one morning, locals woke up to find the market bereft of any stall, and most assumed the loss of their favourite food stall and chaat-wala was permanent. Thankfully, the chaat-wala in question put up a sign to reassure his loyal customer base and direct them to his new spot.