Shopping Destination : Firozabad, UP, India

A couple of years back, I saw these Turkish lamps at the India International Trade Fair and was fascinated by their colorful mosaic almost stain-glass beauty. I was in two minds to buy them as they were on the expensive side, and finally let go of them.

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Years later I chanced upon a similar lamp at a small wholesale shop on NH2 at Firozabad. This Uttar Pradesh town is know for glass bangles and is now crafting intricate glass lamps that dazzle in homes in countries like Kuwait, Spain, Dubai, Australia, France, and the US.

 

I was surprised to know that almost 70 percent of the country’s small-scale glass production is concentrated in this district of Uttar Pradesh. This town is know for the unique skill that involves recycling rejected and damaged glass articles and making beautiful glass bangles. Today, the glass-industry of Firozabad has evolved so greatly that it’s difficult to keep track of the number different things that are produced here.

Although the shops don’t serve as a retail market for its glassware like lamps per se, Firozabad nevertheless makes for a great shopping destination because one can pick up exquisite items at a fraction of the cost that they will be sold at once they hit the store shelves in the cities.

The owner of the shop, where we got our lamps said that, they have so many different kinds of artifacts that it is not possible to display everything. Understandably so, in their shops one would therefore find only sample pieces – one of each kind.

I picked up a bunch of things. Of course the lamps, this one has already found its place. I also got some glass bottles meant for perfume, but I will use it to serve olive oil on the table, I also got these colorful jars for something I haven’t decided yet.

Firozabad mozaic turkish lamp

Pro-tip: Check everything. Each glass, each bottle, each lamp or whatever it is you are buying. Everything is handmade and will have little defects, although at the price you are getting them for you may let go of most of them.

Check out my store LuckyDuck to see lots more.

Shopping Destination : Dilli Haat, New Delhi, India

IF you had just two days to spend in Delhi and just a couple of hours to shop – Traditional, Indian, Artistic, Authentic and mostly Handmade, visit Dilli Haat. One stop shop for souvenir shopping from India.

 

Breezy summer evenings and sunny winter days were made for strolling around the beautiful things India has to offer. A joint collaboration between the New Delhi Municipal Corporation and the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Department, the basic idea of setting up this crafts bazaar was to promote the Indian handicrafts industry and Indian cuisine. There are now two Dilli Haat in Delhi.  the original one at INA, Aurbindo Marg  and the relatively new one at Pitam Pura near the TV tower.

Stamp Dilli-Haat-Gate

 

SHOPPING

Most handicraft bazaars are filled with Kashmiri and Gujrati handicrafts, but in between those Dilli haat offers a taste of Assama & Naga hand-loom, Bihar Silk, Odissa lamps, silver jewelery, ceramic pottery, Punjabi phulkari and I can go on and on.

Originally, you could see the artists in action on their current project, it was intended to promote artisans and give them an outlet to sell their handcrafted things. Now, I mostly see traders and some people are almost permanent there.

DH - block printing

My tip – Shop for the unusual & Bargain Bargain Bargain !!

Almost everyone loves to get a great bargain. The thrill of getting a great deal on a purchase is addictive. Here is how i do it. First, Think how much you would pay for something you like before asking the price. That’s your maximum. Now ask the price, quote 60% of it and see the reaction.  Most of the time you will get your best price, especially if you go on the last day of the festival which is generally 15 or 30th of the month. As the artisans don’t want to pay the cartage to take things back.
And then sometime, I just pay more than they ask – to appreciate the artist, support the art or motivate them to come again.

EATING
There is a selection of food from many about 20 different states. In fact, there was a time I visited Dilli Haat for eating and not shopping. Yes, there was a time when I wasn’t interested in shopping!! The food is not as good as it used to be.The most popular eats are momos, fruit beer and the state specific thallis. The prices have increase from college day but INR 500 still gets you a couple things. My current favorite stalls are Maharashra & Sikkim.

SELLING
Not only is this a great place to shop, its a great place to sell. If you have a collection you would like to showcase, get a stall here, its relatively inexpensive & 15 days gives you a good opportunity to connect with shoppers. more info here.

What I love about Dilli Haat is that it is clean, festive, strollers friendly and inspirational. And like someone said – it’s a one-stop-shop for one of the best representations of what’s out there as far as handicrafts goes!  Plus it has a  play area for kids at the back. Its walking distance from the INA metro station and it fits everyone’s budget. What more can one ask for !!

Here is the official info on How to get there? and Other stuff.

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Delhi’s Wedding Shopping Bonanza – Part II

If the heat, rain, sweat and absolutely no bargaining skills is killing you – do not fret there are some great air-conditioned stores to choose from. They have more or less similar things and it’s a matter of your choice and luck that will change the ‘how-great-is-this?’ rating for these.

Here is a look at some specific Retail Stores


Frontier Bazar and CTC Plaza are some of the top choices. Meena Bazar , Gujralsons , Chhabara 555, Heritage Handloom Emporium and Bombay Selections are great stops for suits, sari and dress materials.

Most of these have multiple outlets in Karol Bagh, Chandni chowk, Rajouri Garden, Lajpat Nagar, South Extension and basically all over Delhi.

If you are the get-in-buy-and-get-out types you are guaranteed to be irritated with these shops. Well! Shopping for wedding in general is taxing for you, these ‘aaoji-bethoji’ (come-sit) will make you want to scream. But nonetheless this has to be done. Window Shopping or like my mom calls it ‘nain-tripti’ (pleasure for eyes) is an essential part of wedding shopping, especially if one is going to spend a considerably large sum of money on these purchases.

Some women can spend hours on end just looking at the variety in a store like Frontier. With multiple-floors of garments there is never a ‘that’s-it !!!’ for these ladies. The salesmen here are also very enthusiastic and will charm their way into making a sale. If you like they will drape the saree or lehnga with so you know how it will look, give you tones of options to play with color, and you can purchase a made-to-order, absolutely unique wardrobe here.

I believe that a bride’s trousseau is like her treasure chest, it should have a sample of the awesome things India has to offer. It is incomplete without silk sari. Nalli has a great collection of the Kanjeevaram, Kota silk, Mysore silk and other specialties of the South. Glass bangles look very festive, a great place to buy them other than Charminar (since you’ll have to go to Hyderabad for that) is Hanuman Temple in CP. It is very close to Nalli Silk Sarees.

The wedding season brings with it ‘Sales’ do make use of them. In fact, Wedding has become such a big industry that a specialty mall by the name of ‘Wedding Souk’ in Pitampura Delhi has recently opened, but I haven’t ventured to that part of town so thats all the information I have. Do let me know if there is something exciting you know about?

If you are looking for really high-end designer wear, head towards MG Road, Santushti Complex or Hauzkhasvillage to get your fill of Ritu Kumar, Satya Paul or Ogaan Or just step into DLF Emporio

Delhi, the capital city of India, is a place of great contrasts and convolutions. The many sights and sounds of Delhi make it easy to spend days exploring the old bazzars, the high-end malls and designer stores. I have had some fun times, and hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane.

Happy Shopping!

Delhi’s Wedding Shopping Bonanza – Part I

Love or Arranged, Marriages will be absolutely no fun without the wedding shopping. Or so I believe! Weddings give not only the bride and groom the freedom to splurge freely, but also an occasion for the invitees to shop for that special outfit.

As we all know, Punjabi weddings go over the edge sometimes, most of them carry on for a couple of days and there are about half a dozen functions the bride needs to dress-up for. So most families start a couple of months in advance to stock up on the clothes, shoes and accessories. A Good Idea!

If you are doing you shopping in Delhi, I’ve put together some of the best stores and shopping areas out of my experience.

I want to give you fair warning that Wedding shopping can go completely out of hand and you may end up buying things because it is ‘so pretty’ or ‘the price is just right’. The best way to avoid that is to PLAN. Have a budget, make lists, set the number of sarees, bags, suits, shoes (well! Not shoes) you need to buy. When you are buying something ask your self – Do I Like it or Love it?And is this the best thing I have seen anywhere or the best thing in this shop? And always ask – Where all will I wear it?

Now that you are ready with your Plan, lets go shopping!

First stop – Karol Bagh & Chandini Chowk

Karol Bagh & Chandini Chowk are the most famous and well-explored shopping hubs. These places are so famous that movies and books like Zoya factor & Pyar ke side effects have made reference to them. And not in vain, I may add. You will get your traditional to designer copies here and at comparatively fewer moolahs too. You will however, need to be familiar with the gallis-gochas and certainly need to be great at bargaining.

Chandni Chowk is one of the largest wholesale market of Asia. Earlier it was almost impossible to reach there but since the arrival of Metro service from CP to CC, it has become more accessible. Put on your walking shoes and be ready for narrow lanes and lots of people. I can safely say that, I love the Delhi Metro – they brought in the metro where cars couldn’t go before.

Chawdi bazaar is a great place to get your wedding cards printed. Near the paranthey walli gali, you’ll find the shops with ribbons, wrapping paper, baskets and boxes. These come in handy when the gifts for relatives and so-and–so need to be packed. For some great quality dry-fruit visit the spice market.

Now coming to the main event, the clothes. Both CC and KB have hundreds of small no name shops stocking up the bling goodies. The price range to suit any budget, but one must have a good eye for the material and the workmanship, or else you’ll be taken for a ride. Ask for designer rip-offs of the spring or winter collection, you’ll definitely find what you are looking for.

One can certainly see a shift to latest malls and other shopping destinations, in most Indian metros. But these small gallis and tiny nooks & corners have a charm of their own. There is an excitement about going there. It’s like watching a real good thriller after seeing a couple of boring chick flicks.

A little off topic, but while you are there, take a tour of the neighborhood on a cycle rickshaw down the traffic-choked Chandni Chowk. This place is — if not all of India’s , but certainly a large part of it — main shopping thoroughfare, lined with shops selling drippingly sweet and chats, lurid textiles, perfumes and jewelry and also has an anomalous branch of McDonald’s thrown in for good measure.

As you can see, I can go on and on about Chandini-Chowk, but I shall stop here. I still have a couple of great stores to tell you guys about so watch out for Part 2!

Shopping in Delhi – GK1

GK’s famous M block market is an elite shopper’s paradise, not for the clothes or the accessories but more for unique ‘fashion-parade’ by people who wander around in the market.

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Stores in GK range from the usual branded shops of Levis, W, UCB, Adidas, Reebok, Puma, Esprit, L’ Affaire and so on, but what makes this market universal for shopping is the range & variety one gets in the stores and outside them (in small concaves). These smaller setups have pretty decent stuff & definitely worth a look. For instance you can get sunglasses from the branded stores for as much as Rs. 20,000 and cheap knock offs (may I add, pretty good cheap knock offs) for anywhere around 200 bucks at the outside stall.

While Sarojini is great for bargains, Khan Market for the foreigner-type of-mal, M Block has the best of both. Luxury goods, branded clothes, Indian handcrafted paper products (Rio Grande) and shoes (Finesse) and so on. Along with the shopping, you can have a quick bite at – Café Coffee Day, Barista or Costa Coffee. With so much choice, there’s no question why M block is a hot favourite among the youth, the socialites and also the drivers, who can’t but resist a pan from the famous Prince Paan Shop which has been there for decades. 

Evening brings with it the hip-and-happening crowd, as night clubs, bars, pubs and restaurants come alive. While housing the popular eating joints like Pizza Hut and McDonald’s, it also has China Garden, Spins & We2.

The only thing, one must remember is that parking can be a handful. Though there are ample mini parking lots, all around M block, but one must be prepared to not find a spot if you come in rush hour. Recommended option is a chauffeur driven, whom you can call your driver on the cell to meet you, once you are done.
 

GK1 – N Block Market

While there is tons in M block market, its alphabetical counterpart N Block houses some of the quiet glamour that is missing in M Block. 

fab

One dominating feature in this market is the FabIndia chain. You can have a go at the traditional fare, with FabIndia which house clothes, accessories, toiletries, furnishings – you name it and its there – that too on either side of the road. If FabIndia doesn’t suffice, Cottons is an alternative.
Once you have had a handful of ethnic shopping, you can go in for designer wear with Ravi Bajaj’s who in fact owns an eatery here too. The Shoe Shop, Hidesign, Next, Apartment 9, Forest Essentials, Urban Shore London are some other good haunts.
Must visit Navrattan Jeweller for exquisite Jewellery.

And if shopping isn’t all that you are looking for, there are book stores cum cafés and tons of pubs and restaurants to satiate that hunger. You can head into Café Turtle for a cup of coffee and a time out to read books, or try the Breads & More, for bakery delights. Or else, there is Kasbah for some Italian, while Urban Pind and Shalom are the hot spots for the partying kinds.

Your trip to Delhi, isn’t complete without at least a stop-by at one of the GK markets. By-the-way there is GK-2 too… more on that later. Try this one till then.

Unique Shopping Destinations within Delhi

Shopping in Delhi

78% of all men/women when asked about his/her ideal way to spend their leisure time would say Shopping.

It a way to de-stress for some, for others it’s the reason why they earn. Purchasing something new, innovative, colorful, antique basically anything interesting gives most of us shoppers a high.

But for the other 22% shopping can be tiresome & boring. How many malls can one see & how many shoes can one try ?

The distinct feature of Delhi markets is that every shopping hub has its own ambience and specialty. Here are a few of my recommendations for people who don’t want to go to the same old boring branded shops.

Dilli Haat

delhi haat

Situated in the heart of Delhi, Dilli Haat is an upgraded version of the traditional weekly market, offering a delightful assortment of craft, food and cultural activities.

The handicraft stalls are allotted on a rotational basis to craftsmen from all corners of India, usually for fifteen days. This ensures a kaleidoscopic view of the richness and diversity of Indian handicrafts and artifacts. One gets to appreciate the hard work & skill that goes into creating one-of-a-kind handicrafts while watching the live demonstrations by craftsmen.

Dilli Haat is a joint collaboration between the New Delhi Municipal Corporation and the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Department. The basic idea of setting up this crafts bazaar was to promote the Indian handicrafts industry and Indian cuisine. Spread across 6 acres of land, Dilli Haat is situated on Sri Aurobindo Marg, opposite the INA market.

There is an entrance fee to go in, but it is well worth spendingthe Rs. 20,  just to see the imaginative landscaping, creative planning, see the artists, and eat the regional food, even if shopping is not on your mind.

Santushti Shopping Arcade

The Air Force Wives association runs this small shopping complex, which is a favorite haunt of diplomats’ wives, located opposite the Ashoka Hotel. More than a dozen boutiques are ringed around a small garden. This isn’t the best spot for bargains, but it is the perfect place to find high fashion Indian clothing.

There is a handbag shop here that has an annual one-day sale when everything in the shop is on a discount. I strongly recommend going to the sale and get there soon because you know how women get around the ‘Sale Sign’.

Must have a ‘spot of tea’ at the popular Basil & Thyme restaurant.

Pragati Maidan

Pragati Maidan

Pragati Maidan hosts a variety of exhibitions, trade shows and trade fairs each year. Functional since 1972, Pragati maidan is a premier event venue in India. It has a dozen indoor halls and almost 10,000 sq. m. of open display space that is spread across 61,290 sqm. Facilities here include Medical aid, ATM’s, Restaurants & parking.

India International Trade Fair & the New Delhi Auto Expo are the well known events, but something or the other is always happening here.

Crafts Museum

There is plenty to see near Pragati Maidan:

  • Crafts Museum which is open from 10am-5pm daily, except Monday. Pick up some souvenirs from Crafts Museum Shop.
  • Dolls Museum – A unique museum of Dolls is located near the ITO crossing on the Bahadur Shah Jafar Marg. These dolls are collected from different parts of India as well as from other countries of the world. Pick up some children books from Children Book Trust of India in the same building.
  • National Science Centre
  • Rajpath and India Gate

Sundernagar Market

If you are a jewelry buff, Sundernagar should be on your Top 10 things to go to. A choice selection of Antiques and silver trinkets, especially of silver jewelry from Ladakh, semi- precious stones, some textiles, brass, copper and silver artifacts are available here.

The Sundarnagar market also has shops selling India’s finest tea and a tea tasting session at one of these shops should be on the top of your itinerary.

Shopping is always on top of the itinerary for me, especially when visiting Delhi. There is whole hoopla of places to go for hard-core shopping. However, this list is for those looking for something more unique, something different.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Shopping in Bangkok – 2

Sharninder: This is the second part of the writeup written by my wife on our Bangkok trip. The first part is here. Look around for more Bangkok articles here.

SHOPPING

Now let me come to the first reason of my love for BKK. The shoes. They do have the best variety, the styles, the colours & the PRICES. I could have bought more but I was forced to stop at about a dozen. Other than the shoes there is lots’n’lots of stuff one can buy. Here is my selection of shopping areas –

SIAM Centre/ Paragon/ Discovery/ Central World – these malls are conveniently located next to each other as soon as you get off at from the BTS at SIAM Square (obviously :)). Well, they have ever thing a normal mall has but at a much larger scale. All the designer labels, all the cool gadget stores, the big-big food courts, specialty store (The loft was excellent), multiplex and Ocean World.

Continue reading “Shopping in Bangkok – 2”

Shopping in Bangkok – 1

Bangkok is a shopper’s paradise. I’m sure you’ve heard that one before. But, the truth is … It really is. Everywhere you go in Bangkok, you’ll see people shopping, haggling and generally having a good time at it. Shopping, apart from eating, might well be described as the national activity of the Thais and, trust me, they’re good at it.

There are generally two schools of thought to the whole shopping in Bangkok thing. One type of people like to shop in swanky malls in air conditioned comfort and the other group wants to see the ground reality and love to shop in stinky bylanes and crowded markets. I belong to the first school of thought and I’ll tell you why, in a while.

Bangkok offers umpteen shopping avenues for both kinds of people. There are huge airconditioned malls as well as open air markets offering bargain buys at dirt cheap prices.

This post is an attempt to guide the first timer to Bangkok in his/her quest for the eternal shopping experience.

We’ll start with the obvious, the Siam central area. Siam central is the BTS interchange station for the Sukhumwit and Silom lines. The BTS is connected by a skywalk to the Siam Center mall and this is where most visitors start their trip in Bangkok, like we did, mostly because of the fact that its connected to the Skytrain station.

 

Continue reading “Shopping in Bangkok – 1”

Suan Lum Night Bazaar

Suan Lum night bazaar is a market in Bangkok’s Pathum Wan district, at the intersection of Rama IV and Wireless/Sathorn Roads, opposite Lumpini Park at the Bangkok Metro’s Lumpini Station.

To reach here you can take the BTS to the Sukhumvit interchange and then take the MRT to the lumpini park station. The market is just outside the Lumpini park station of the MRT.

Continue reading “Suan Lum Night Bazaar”