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Mall or market, Poila pulls the crowd

Calcutta’s old shop stop — New Market, Gariahat and Hatibagan — gave new favourites Quest, South City and City Centre a run for their money on the weekend before Poila Baisakh.

Metro takes a look at the slog-over shopping.

South City Mall

4pm: From a pair of banana trees welcoming guests at the entrance to a Mangal Ghat at the atrium, the mall oozed Poila Baisakh from every nook and cranny. And shoppers’ bags too.

The Naskars came all the way from Dum Dum. A former Hatibagan loyalist, the family gave high scores to malls. “The biggest factor is that they are air-conditioned and offers everything. Why sweat it out elsewhere?” said Saradindu Naskar, 23. Parents nodded and seven-year-old niece smiled.

Gariahat

5.30pm: Guerrilla shopping at its best — look, haggle, buy and move. Shoppers struggled with their bags while traffic cops had a tough time managing the moving sea of people. Bags, saris and shoes — Gariahat thumbed its nose on malls.

The Dasguptas, among the many who chose Gariahat over malls, said proximity was the key. “We stay in Kasba and have a lot of shopping to do in,” said Sumitra Dasgupta, done in by the heat and crowd, was taking a lebu cha break.

Quest Mall

6.45pm: The Syed Amir Ali Avenue address for luxury brands was abuzz with excitement. The atrium was the centre of attraction — from selfie-holics to tired shoppers resting their feet and pockets. Outside, on the granite seats, some with bloated bags compared their final haul

“We have come all the way from Lake Town to check out the place and shop. We had heard and read a lot about this new mall,” said Papri Chowdhury, who was there with husband Satyajit, daughter Aneesha, 15, and son Anubrata, 11.

New Market

4pm: The busiest among all shopping hubs. Traffic police deploy additional forces on roads leading to the market, lest shoppers spill on to JL Nehru Road and choke vehicular movement. Shopkeepers said the full surge began by late afternoon and within an hour not a toehold was spared at Sreeram Arcade and Treasure Island and on the pavements. Salwar-kameez, junk jewellery and cotton tops topped the list of women while Tees, shoes and cotton scarves were the pop picks for men.

City Centre Salt Lake

7.15pm: Food scored over branded apparel here. Stores selling clothes were doing average business. “We have far better footfall before Puja and New Year. Since we do not offer huge discounts at this time of the year, people generally prefer to buy from traditional marketplaces that run Poila Baisakh sale,” said apparels outlet owner.

Not all went chomp-chomp but did some shop-shop as well. Sourav Dey, a CMC contractor of road materials, was with wife Remi and cousin Juhi for all-under-one-roof experience.

Their buys: shirts, ladies tops, jeans, perfumes and sunglasses.

“I don't like haggling over prices and running around from one shop to another to buy things. I have been a City Centre regular since the mall opened,” Dey said.

Hatibagan

6pm: Morning, afternoon and evening — no matter what time of the day, this north Calcutta market remained crowded. Canopies of coloured tarp stretched from one end of the footpath to the others, shading shoppers from the sun. Bed sheets, pillow covers, kurta-pyjama, crockery and lampshades — all sold and bought.

“It’s time for the big Chaitra sale in Hatibagan. I prefer to buy clothes from New Market or City Centre but we come to Hatibagan during Poila Baisakh. Haggling and jostling with the crowd... that’s the fun part,” said Shrestha Rudra, a PG student at Jadavpur University, shopping with Ishita Pal, Sampa Dey and Debarati Bose — friends from Bagbazar.