The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Footloose fundays
- Survey sees switch from relaxation to action

Idling is out, outdoor is in. The traditional Sunday afternoon siesta is not worth losing sleep over, evenings are measured by the territory covered and the money splurged. An opinion poll conducted by TNS Mode for Metro on how Calcuttans spend their Sundays reveals outdoors is the place to be on the day we — well, at least most of us — take a break.

Conducted among 210 people — with an equal male-female mix of students and young working professionals, and also housewives — the poll set out to capture the various elements that make up a Calcuttan’s Sunday.

Never on a Sunday is what 56 per cent of respondents had to say about an afternoon siesta, with sitting idle at home topping their hate list. Even if the first half of the day can be spent at home, sundown is the step-out signal.

Evenings, irrespective of the season, are spent anywhere but home with two/three of the hours between 6 pm and midnight being spent outside the familiar four walls.

The poll traces the footsteps and rolls out the list of favourite destinations for Calcuttans. The big retailers have reasons to bask in the Sunday shine, with shopping complexes like Forum and Pantaloons topping the list (56 per cent), followed by movie halls (49 per cent), entertainment parks (47 per cent), cultural functions (44 per cent) and music stores (37 per cent).

A spokesperson for Forum, on Elgin Road, says: “On an average, the footfall on Sundays is around 12,000, which is more than twice that of the weekdays.”

At INOX, the city’s first multiplex, the occupancy soars on Sundays, hovering between 75 and 98 per cent.

Sociologist Surendra Munshi feels footloose Sundays — a switch from relaxation to action, home to market and stability to variety — can be linked to the change in the idea of spending good time.

The Indian Institute of Management Calcutta professor says: “Today, good time means being active and the domain of action is undoubtedly the market. That explains the orientation towards consumption.”

• Kids have emerged as decision-makers in the family. Around 91 per cent of the respondents with offspring said children influence the decisions on Sunday-outing destinations

• Nannies and grandmoms are a luxury. On an average, only three out of 10 times are the children left behind when the parents go out

• INOX has morning shows for the children; all shopping addresses have dedicated areas for toddlers; entertainment zones like Nicco Park are all-time hits

Splurge in style

With the supply side responding in real time to the demands from the dil maange more crowd and suave marketers raising a din to reach target segments, the marketplace is big and buzzing.

“Look at the explosion in the number of restaurants and entertainment opportunities that have come up recently to cater to this crowd, which is essentially peer-group driven. People spend a lot of money at these places,” observes Munshi.

A young lawyer takes us through the Sunday routine for him and his friends — start with a late breakfast at Flury’s, follow it up with a movie at either Esplanade or Elgin Road, drop into MusicWorld or Landmark before topping it off in a coffee shop or restaurant.

“All these elements of fun come for a price, but I don’t mind spending. My Sunday budget for the month is around Rs 8,000 and I plan my finances accordingly, by keeping a tight fist during the week,” says the lawyer in his late 20s.

Echoing the man on the move, over 69 per cent of respondents branded going out on Sunday “expensive” and around 50 per cent of them voiced their preference for plastic money.

Be it restaurants or retail outlets, the surge in Sunday spending is something to smile about.

“The average bill amount on Sundays at our Camac Street store is around Rs 1,200, with 60 per cent being spent on apparels,” says a Pantaloons spokesperson.

But if the range of tastes and preferences among respondents is anything to go by, all the Calcuttan wants on a Sunday is everything. Take the taste buds. Indian, Chinese, Bengali, South-Indian and continental delicacies all find favour with the culinary crowd hitting foodstops around town.

With 55 per cent of respondents complaining that Calcutta does not have enough options in Thai, Mexican and Italian cuisine and 32 per cent asking for more continental options, the tummy rumble for more couldn’t be louder.

But some old habits die harder than others. During the hours spent indoors, music is what matters most for respondents from all segments — students, working professionals and housewives. If good ol’ Calcutta-style adda is next best for students and working professionals, housewives actually choose to cook up a bit of a Sunday storm in the kitchen.

But Sunday is not all smiles, warns the survey, with only 42 per cent of respondents opting for Sunday as their favourite day off, 32 per cent going for Saturday evenings.

Sundays may not be forever, after all.

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