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Shopping in India is a wide and varied experience depending on where you go. Most shops open at around 11am and will stay open until about 9pm and are at their busiest in the evenings. There is no single closed day, some places are open all week, other markets may be shut Sundays, Mondays or Tuesdays you have to find out for each different place.
Gurgaon has a reputation as Mall City, currently having 6 malls, about a quarter of the total in all of the country and more are still being built. The Malls are often multi-purpose having shops, restaurants, food courts, nightclubs and cinemas. They have the advantage of being air-conditioned and with power back up. The range of shops is mixed with local names and big brands from around the world, including our very own Marks and Spencer. They are though relatively expensive compared with other shopping areas and have fixed prices. Malls have gained a reputation of being filled with people but that they are not spending.
This is the Sahara Mall in Gurgaon. This picture was taken on our first visit in August 2004. The mall is now all finished.
Two shots inside The Metropolitan Mall
This is inside the DT City Centre Mall. We have noticed that some of the more elderly visitors to malls often get confused by escalators, it is only with the recent arrival of malls that escalators have become common here.
After the malls come shopping complexes or markets, though the term is used differently here. A market does not always mean temporary stands but will also include permanent buildings, in a block or along a street. These are open areas and not covered but still may be built with units on more than one story. Shops are usually small and there will only be worldwide names in the better class areas. Goods are often stacked high or tucked away in the back and you may need to ask to find out if they stock something. Sometimes goods spill out onto the street and a member of staff will still outside with them. In Delhi some of the markets specialise in one type of product so you find 20 different lighting related shops, but some may only stock bulbs while another concentrates on ceiling mounted fittings. There are often a lot of shop signs fighting for space giving a very disorganised feel.
Shops have many people working in them, one of the local books stores, in one of the malls, has about 10 people working there, at home there would probably only be 2 people in a shop of the same size. In many shops one person will serve, another will pack and someone else will take your money. Credit cards are taken only in the larger stores. Many of the shops in the malls will also have security guards at their door, and they will take and hold any large bags you may be carrying while you are inside the shop. The malls themselves also have security guards and usually will have one at each of the escalators too.
These two shots are of Khan Market, one of the ones that we regularly visit in Delhi. It is popular with many expats, its not very large but has a wide variety of shops, clothing, groceries, music, electronics, opticians, books, magazines, electrical goods, kitchen ware, jewellers and restaurants. Some goods probably cost more than elsewhere, but you don't get hassled.
In some markets you get shop sellers trying to entice you to see their wares, as a westerner they want your money and will often charge you more than locals. You need to get haggling in these markets, we have not ventured round these much yet, maybe once we are more experienced and have a better idea what the local cost of goods are we may give them a go.
On some main roads you just get a line of a few shops and on other roads stall holders just pitch up to sell their wares. These are often just one item, for example motorcycle helmets, watermelons, or they will cook on the spot for you. (Not that we would tend to risk that to protect our stomachs!)
Shops come at all levels from the very well fitted to the basic as in the barber's shop below. Or some men just have a chair and prop the mirror in a tree and work outside.
There are a few supermarkets but they are not as common or as large as at home. The also do not tend to stock the range of goods either. Not many of them will sell fresh meat, you need to buy this from a butcher. However you can get most of the other day to day things that you need from them, and they all give free home delivery too!
This is Crossroads, one of our local supermarkets - another difference - I have spotted a mouse running between shelving units there.
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