P Tolma (in green) at Potala market in Ranchi on Wednesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi residents can choose to raid the popular Tibetan Potala market for a winter wardrobe makeover, if they are willing to be weaned away from the bright lights of malls.
The annual Potala market kicked off on Wednesday at Town Hall with Ranchi deputy commissioner K.K.Soan doing the honours. The market will continue till January 2012.
Smiling faces of Tibetan migrants selling woollen clothes and warm accessories led to a cultural exchange during their stay in the city. However, visitors opine that the 40-year-old market is now slowly losing its magic.
Reason? More and more shoppers prefer going to the new-fangled malls dotting Main Road rather than the old flea market. More surprising, even if they go, they don’t buy.
“Even though footfall is high, the business revenue does not reflect that,” said 75-year-old Tashi Dhondup.
Dhondup first came to Ranchi as part of a Tibetan group in search of livelihood through this market in 1971.
“I was 35 years old on my first visit here and came with my parents. Earlier, this market used to set the tone for the whole year but not anymore. I hope we have a better season this year,” he said.
His yesteryear memories have diminished, but he maintained that Potala market was vibrant back then. The market used to be held at the bylanes of Main Road, he recalled.
The market is shrinking too. Around six years ago, a minimum of 70-80 families used to come to the city to set up the temporary market. This year, there are around 60 shops. According to the organisers, each family is allotted one shop, which gets decided through a joint meeting among all the members much before the market starts.
“Earlier the Tibetan market meant exclusive clothes and accessories. Everyone used to wait for us to come. This year sales at the malls across the country have hit our business. Our business today is based on personal terms and relationships. We have remained in contact with the people here through our annual visit,” said 70-year-old P. Tolma, who has been visiting Ranchi since the inception of this market.