Shoppers here, there, everywhere — that was the story of the last Sunday before Puja as Calcuttans armed with overflowing bags braved the intermittent rain to invade every conceivable shop stop.
If Chowringhee was choked by destination New Market and South City Mall was overrun by over 1.5 lakh shoppers, the poor ol’ Metro Railway rakes struggled to cope with the pounding of festive feet. Delays were caused by doors of overcrowded coaches not closing at several stations, from Kalighat to Esplanade. “We have already extended the service from noon and are running 20 more trains. However, each train is carrying almost double its capacity of 2,000 passengers,” said Metro spokesperson Protyush Ghosh.
At last count, 3.5 lakh passengers had taken the Metro on Sunday, around three times the count of any given Sunday.
Metro travelled to seven prime shopping destinations on Super Sunday to check out the festive fervour.
WHERE: New Market
WHAT WE SAW: A sharp afternoon shower did little to blunt the shopping spirit as police and civic volunteers struggled to manage the ever-swelling crowd.
WHAT WE HEARD: “We have come here for some last-minute shopping but finding a parking spot was a nightmare. I had to finally park near Victoria Memorial and walk down all the way,” said Subhodeep Basu, a Wipro employee, with his wife and five-year-old daughter. Sneha Roy, a Class XII student, busy picking up shoes and junk jewellery at Shreeram Arcade, said: “I managed to find exactly what I was looking for.”
POP PICKS: High-heel shoes and junk jewellery.
FOOTFALL: At 5pm, it was 20,000-plus. “We are expecting at least 60,000 people between now and 8pm,” said an officer at the police assistance booth.
WHERE: City Centre, Salt Lake
WHAT WE SAW: Last-minute shoppers, picking up everything from bags to shoes.
WHAT WE HEARD: “I am done with most of my shopping. I only have to buy dhuti-panjabi for my husband and father-in-law,” said Sapna Saha, 29. “We have to buy dupattas, junk jewellery and footwear for ourselves, T-shirts for our husbands, and shoes for our kids,” said Soma Bose, 32, with friend Chandrika Biswas.
POP PICKS: Shoes and junk jewellery. Mohammed Yunus, at Touristor, said: “There is a 50 per cent jump in sale of footwear.” At Protiva’s near Tea Junction, owner Sandeep Samadder said: “The demand for junk jewellery has risen dramatically this weekend.”
FOOTFALL: “By 5.30pm, it was 18,000, compared with around 9,000 on other Sundays. At least 80 per cent are serious shoppers, much higher than on normal days,” said P. Sandeep, joint vice-president, facility manager.
WHERE: City Centre, New Town
WHAT WE SAW: With dhaak beats playing in the background, the mall was high on the Puja spirit.
WHAT WE HEARD: “We hope to finish all our Puja buying today,” said Anamika Gupta, 32, with her husband and three-year-old daughter. Rupam Pal, 28, said: “I love Puja shopping. I just have to buy a shirt and a kurti today.”
POP PICKS: Junk jewellery. “We have already sold junk jewellery worth Rs 3,000 more than on other days,” said Farida Begum at a stall set up by a self-help group at Puja Festivity, in association with t2.
FOOTFALL: “Till about 5.30pm it was 17,000, compared with 8,000 on a usual Sunday,” said P. Sandeep, joint vice-president, facility manager.
WHERE: South City Mall, Prince Anwar Shah Road
WHEN: 3pm to 4.30pm
WHAT WE SAW: The rain outside could not prevent the mall decked out for Puja from being flooded with shoppers, many of them youngsters on mission buy-buy.
WHAT WE HEARD: “I have bought two shirts and a pair of jeans but my shopping is not done,” said engineering student Ravi Ranjan Kumar, with a gang of friends. Sangeeta Jha, also part of the group, said: “I have a long list that includes clothes, accessories, cosmetics and shoes.” Ishaan Ojha, a Class X student at MP Birla Foundation School, Behala, was thrilled: “I bought a pair of sandals, shoes, shirts, T-shirts and jeans.
POP PICKS: Clothes and shoes.
FOOTFALL: By 8pm, the footfall had crossed 1.5 lakh, making it the most-wanted mall on Super Sunday.
WHERE: Forum Mall, Elgin Road
WHEN: 5pm to 5.45pm
WHAT WE SAW: The mall was all decorated for Puja and stalls selling handicrafts such as jute and terracotta items, patachitra and brass showpieces, had sprung up on all the floors.
WHAT WE HEARD: Karran Shah, a Class VIII student at St. James’ School, looking for a “cool T-shirt” to wear on Ashtami, said: “This Puja, I must have at least five pairs of clothes and a kurta-pyjama for Diwali. On Ashtami, I will wear jeans with a T-shirt and my new Nike shoes.” Neha Shah, a Class X student at Modern High School for Girls, added: “I have got some dresses and some party wear. For Ashtami, I have bought an Indian outfit too. But I plan to buy more so that I have at least seven new outfits for Puja.”
Shivangi Modi, jewellery designer, was playing catch-up. “I am late as today is my first day of Puja shopping. Today is dedicated to shoes, I have bought two and will buy three more pairs. Next round will be apparels and accessories!”
POP PICKS: Clothes, shoes, accessories and handicrafts.
FOOTFALL: Around 27,500 till 10pm.
WHEN: 4.45pm to 5.50pm
WHAT WE SAW: An unending stream of people from all directions at the Gariahat crossing. Pantaloons or pavement stores, there were happy but exhausted shoppers everywhere, all with huge plastic packets. The behind-the-counter team at Asha Stores near the Gariahat crossing was having a tough time tackling the hordes of women on a sari hunt.
WHAT WE HEARD: “I want a pair of slim-fit jeans and a few churidar-kurtas in bright colours and sheer sleeves. I also have to pick up skirts for my sister,” said college-goer Rituparna Basu.