Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Janpath - Textile hawkers from Gujarat


Textile paradise in the bylane of Janpath, shops upon shop with hand embroidered, hand woven, machine made textiles. Delhi can be called a microcosm representation of Indian textiles. Nearly, nearly everything from India in terms of its textiles can be seen and bought here. So are you a folk embroidery freak? Does the site of beautiful textiles make your mouth water, well then this one is for you. Be it vintage, antique or contemporary textiles, this little bylane stretch in the middle of Janpath (read the post on Janpath, a budget / bargain hunter’s paradise) offers just that. The entire stretch to the left near the erstwhile Annapoorna bakery and coffee shop is packed with Gujarati ladies especially from Kutch, Bhuj, Surendranagar selling yes eye catching pieces of textiles both old and new. This is a favourite haunt for textile lovers who love bargaining. This street developed in the late 80s when the craze for Rajasthani and Gujarati mirror work started in a mass way. These women would sell on the streets of Janpath, they were then given this narrow stretch to sell their wares. The initial 20 odd women today have swelled to nearly 40 or more stretching to the end of the road. A lot of products seen then are hardly visible now and the prices are also much much higher. It is probably the only market in Delhi completely run by women. What is interesting is the thrift and excellent sales tactics of the women. Jabbering amongst themselves in Gujarati, they can break out in English and Hindi equally fluently. Initially though they may seem aggressive, a little talk and they can become almost friendly. Most of the products come from Ahmedabad, Kutch and Gujarat. Good saris, suits and kurtas – second hand, rejected from outlets, from shops and factories. The moment one enters the lane, one is dazzled by the omnipresent mirror work, glitter and of course persistent selling. There are multi shaded quilts, one can request the women to procure what one wants.

Location - Janpath, in Connaught Place

Timing – It is open throughout the week 7 days from about 11:00 am in the morning to 7:30 pm in the evening. Peak hours are 2 – 5 pm in the afternoon. The women start late in the morning, so at times even at 2:00 pm it is “Boni” time, read the post on Boni).

Highlight - The range of contemporary textiles include stoles, shawls, dupattas, salwar kameez pieces, sarees and a range of home accessories – throws, cushion covers, wall hangings, torans or door decorators, cushion covers (in literally all hues)…. Quilts, patchwork bed spreads, cushion covers….literally a range from Gujarat. Most of the women have mobile phones, so it is pretty easy to tie up with them for specific items.

Insider Tip - It is a turning area for cars wanting to cross over to service lane of Janpath, as is for vehicles wanting to avoid the traffic rush. There are offices, bungalows and houses on the opposite side, each of which makes the roads very very dusty and almost caught in a dust storm. But beyond that it is a wonderful place to browse and pick things up leisurely. The sales pitch is persistent and annoying the first time, second time most treat you as a regular and give you space to choose. One can get old pieces from almost all parts of the country. But one has to have the patience to wait for it. It is Bargainable paradise, so haggle haggle and haggle. There is no thumb rule, it depends on your luck the sales situation of the woman, does she want to make a “Boni” (read the post on Boni) first sale of the day, the general economic trend and if she wants to get rid of stock. Well try your luck!!!!