“Bhaiya, 1000 bahut zyada hain, 200 mein dijiye! Arre bhiaya, main hamesha toh yahi se khareedti hun, kam kijiye na!” Sound familiar? The indiscriminate haggling, the hours of browsing, picking, and returning, the envy with which your friends look at your best (read: cheap and gorgeous) purchases; it’s a thrill that hardcore shoppers can never get enough of. You can give me the best malls, the cutest boutique stores, the most amazing designs, but there’s something about street shopping that is always exciting and delightful.
From the streets of Bangkok and London to our homegrown markets of Sarojini Nagar and Colaba Causeway or Linking Road, street shopping is a worldwide phenomenon that no one is immune to. And it’s not a surprise really when you consider the astonishingly low prices, the bulk shopping experience, and the pat on the back you get to give yourself after a good bargain. So, where do you get your heart’s desire of the same experience in Pune? Which are the Meccas of street shopping in our city. Here’s a quick guide.
This is the place to go to for almost all your shopping needs (if malls are not your thing). A great mix of big brands, boutique stores, and street stalls, MG road is perennially teeming with people. Street stall owners have on display a brilliant mix of trendy clothes, eye-catching accessories, shoes, and bags. Most regulars have their favourite street stalls, making a beeline to the place as soon as they are in the vicinity, so identify your favourite. Also, if you are as much of a foodie as a shopper, then do stop for a bite at one of the many restaurants dotting the road. My personal favourite is a hole-in-the-wall takeaway joint run by the Pune Zarthosti Seva Mandal, situated right opposite Central Bank.
Fergusson College Road
My first trip to Pune, this was the place my cousin took me to shop, and to a 17-year-old, the place was heavenly. Most Punekars simply call it FC Road and it is one of the most popular street-shopping destinations in the city. It’s synonymous with budget shopping and teeming with college students on tight budget, looking for something new and trendy at pocket-friendly prices. Clothes, accessories, shoes (especially this one tiny shop that sells Kolhapuris), and even books, FC road is the place to go for every-day shopping.
Laxmi Road/Tulsi Baug
I have documented my nervousness of making a shopping trip to the old city in an earlier piece, but now that I have gotten over that, I can’t get enough. Traditional outfits or contemporary, quintessentially Puneri accessories and ear cuffs from the new age, heels or mojris, these confusing yet intriguing lanes are perfect for impulse buys and bargain shopping. Rows upon rows of stalls that sell almost everything, this is the place to go to when you have time to spend and a city you want to discover.
A lot of my college years were spent in the lanes of KP, thanks in equal parts to the old German Bakery and a penchant for Osho chappals. I had them in every colour and they were always the original straw versions. Then, the whole of North Main road was covered with tiny stalls that sold these thongs. Today, the number of stores have decreased but the products are the same. If the hippie in you is looking for a bargain buy, then Koregaon Park with its small boutiques and street stalls is the place the go.
A less-talked about lane sandwiched between FC Road and JM Road, right next to the Garware Bridge, Hong-Kong Lane is known for its imported goods and quirky keepsakes. Junk jewellery, watches, shoes, funky pens, and belts, the market has a broad assortment of stuff to buy from. Don’t go in with the purpose of looking for something specific to buy, instead let the market surprise you. You won’t regret it!
The crowds, the chaos, the crazy array of stuff, the noise; everything contributes to making street shopping an absolutely brilliant experience. There’s never a dull moment, there’s always something better to buy, and there’s always someone selling it cheaper. My personal recommendation: if you haven’t been before, save your street shopping experience for a day when you have time on your hand. You can only enjoy the splendour that is street shopping when time is your friend.