Of the many things Calcutta is famous for, one is its street markets. Apart from few stalls that sell second-hand books, every thing is new and shiny and attractive.
The objects on display range from cotton tee shirts and pajamas and denim to watches, toys, shoes, flowers, music C.D.s and a lot more. Everything is up for a bargain and these markets can be a paradise for a person who has mastered the art of it. It was during my first year of college that I had visited a Calcutta street market for the first time with a group of friends, who were well versed with the Calcutta street culture and they taught me a few rules of shopping on a budget. For people who are uncomfortable with bargaining, these street markets aren’t the place to be since you’ll be ending up paying double or triple of what the product is actually worth. My friends taught me to offer one third of the price they ask for. So far it has worked on the few occasions I’ve been there. For instance, I got three pairs of colourful beaded n sequined jute slippers for only Rs 250 (about $5) and that was the biggest deal of my life. I still have those slippers in the shoe rack along with their aristocratic cousins and they still look good and are perfectly wearable. Another great buy was a couple of pairs of great looking cotton pajamas for which I paid around $3. Great, isn’t it.
The most famous of these street markets are the ‘New Market‘ (which ironically is actually quite old), Gariahat and the College Street (which sells book mostly).Being a student, I’ve been to the College Street market multiple times and always had a great bargain. I even succeeded in selling off my old books to a dealer I had become familiar with. The thing with these markets are that everybody seems to be happy at the end of the day, whether it’s the customer or the hawker.
In fact, according to Wikipedia , this ‘unorganized group’ had generated a business worth U.S. $2 Billion in the year 2005. Calcutta being a home to many industries like steel and heavy engineering minerals, pharmaceuticals, food and agriculture and also textile and jute, etc, operated by large public sector or private sector organisations and the also having the status of the erstwhile capital of India during the British era, will not be the same with out this one large ‘unorganized’ sector. This one sector also enables the poorer section of people migrating from other states to get a foothold in life and survive this mad scramble of sights, sounds, flavours and colours and have loads of buyers.