Gone are the days when you shopped at the kirana or the mom-n-pop stores down the street or around the corner. With time one saw the advent of departmental stores,w hich stacked everything you needed, in neat little spaces, all under one roof. Small stores lead to big ones, and they got bigger and bigger till they became Hyper!
But the latest format of sales which seems to have hit the urban cities, especially one as diversely populated as Mumbai, is the signal market (yes they call it signal here, not "red light" as they do in Delhi!). "Whats that?", I hear you say? Well let me elaborate!
Wanna taste the first mango/strawberry of the season? Bored on the long trip home, wish you could catch up with the latest gossip in the cine magazine or catch the latest Jeffrey Archer book? Looking for a matching trinket for the latest dress you just bought? Wish you could pacify your kid making a ruckus on the back seat, with a drawing book or a toy? Fancy a cute or cool stickon decoration for the dashboard, or maybe a an ornate vase/statue for home? Just had a fight with your wife/gf and wished you had some flowers to make up? Running late for a party where you needed a cool contraption like the glowing devil horns? Phone runs out of battery, wish you had a car charger? Feeling hungry, looking for a quick snack like peanuts or something? Well look no further! your friendly traffic signal on the way to home/work will give you all that and more!
Gone are the days when the only thing you got n signals (atleast Delhi signals) were gola (or nariyal), fake (or maybe real) Bisleri water bottles, mid-day newspaper and people selling aggarbattis and orange dusting cloths for your car. From food, to latest contraptions, to flowers to reading material... you got it all in just 2 minutes that you wait at the signal. Dare you stop and you are hoarded by a plethora of products to choose from.
However, Caveat Emptor! There is no guarantee of these things, which look very nice from the window but may turn out to be totally different once you reach home and check em out! And the constant buzzing and knocking of the irritating hawkers may get to you, especially on some of the longer signals (yes, some of them have a waiting time of upto 10 minutes sometimes!), and ofcourse the other irritants like beggars and eunuchs! Some of the hawkers are weird too: some book sellers always ask me for a lift across the sea link to Bandra from Worli sea face! These days another favourite ploy to rid you of money is to pretend someone died, and ask for money for teh funeral: funny how teh same wman loses her relative every day!! And then there are the Eunuchs who love to touch you (atleast men, thank god not women), to get you to pay them! God bless if you try to get away with paying them just a measly fiver! And some just dont stop bargaining, like starting with Rs 300 for the box of strawberries, and coming down to as low as Rs 50!
Sure there are pros and cons but sometimes you do get some neat bargains and cool stuff at the signal that you not have seen or picked up otherwise. And the time you save by doing the shopping on the go! No need to park the car, or hunt for shops! :)
I just thank god Mumbaikars dont believe in Shani, and we are not hounded by people asking for money for Shani Maharaj on Saturdays, wearing hideous black clothes, and carrying decayed blackened metal tins with photos of random deities! Well, that is another thing to love about aamchi Mumbai! :D
Well time to wrap up and get ready for another trip around the city: looking forward to the latest stuff on the block, or shall I say signal? ;)