ISLAMABAD: The Sunday bazaar in H9 sector is intriguing — a normal visit might consist of housewives purchasing fruits and veggies for the forthcoming week. She may also venture a little further for linen or groceries and further up for cheaper varieties of lawn.
But a whole new world awaits for the bold soul that dare walk into the “landa” area.
Thinking of changing those old curtains? Lacy, or floral, white ruffles? Neutral hues of all sizes await you. A little bargaining, which our gender is apt at, and walk off with your prize. Rinse with a disinfectant and your windows have undergone that badly needed change. The section has foreign-made quilted bedspreads, tray mats, table spreads of various sizes, shapes, and patterns available at different price ranges, from the cheapest on the heap to the finer ones inside.
Raina (name changed on request), a housewife with an eye for crockery and curio, says she visits this place regularly. She has picked silverware (later discovered to be Queen Anne), which she polished and now displays in her showcase. The entire winter she would browse around these second hand shops, and her home is filled with vases, picture frames, and decorations. “Occasionally I am lucky enough to find brand new crystal bowls, which I gift to friends on occasions.”
Lately, electronics have flooded these shops. Men are seen examining various gadgets from DVDs, to CD players, as ladies shout loudly at the salesperson to lower the rate of a good condition Kenwood all-in-one and second hand BabyBliss hair strengtheners. A Panasonic stereo with a 5 CD changer was bought by a college boy with saved up pocket money.
The proud owner said he would never have been able to buy the same at a “normal” shop.
Yasmin, a second year student says she has a craze for handbags. She has gotten lucky a number of times, finding barely used Tommy Hilfiger bags. “Also, I bought two vintage-style suitcases at unthinkably low rates.”
An Afghani lady, mother to two teenage girls, was overjoyed when she realised long gowns, prom dresses and western wear were available there. She showed off the treasure she had found: a long skirt, lacy top, stripped pyjamas, and shirts. But, she added, she had to bargain long and hard with a stubborn Pakhtun salesman before closing the deal.
However, one has to be careful while digging in the landa bazaar. Each of these ladies have ended up getting carried away with the promise of what lay in front of them, and ended up walking away with chipped crockery, or bags that were torn on the sides and cleverly hidden by the shopkeeper.
Next to these second-hand shops are stalls selling local goods. Their owners seem disgruntled that people are more willing to buy second hand foreign goods than brand new local ones.
“It’s a state of mind. Anything foreign, and people will run for it, even though we have perfectly good local products,” said one stall owner as he pointed towards a group of ladies checking out the second hand shirts on the landa side.
Sales of second hand warm clothes spike in winter. The streets in the markets are flooded with carts of second-hand winter wear for the same reasons. Imported sweaters, jackets and coats have price tags that are far beyond the reach of ordinary citizens, while the quality of locally-made clothing is not even good enough, according to some, to last a single winter.
“I have made several trips to the Sunday market in G-6 and have checked out several roadside carts as well in order to get a few sweaters for the cold season. Instead of buying cheap Chinese merchandise, I would rather buy used, branded western clothes,” which according to pizza delivery man Salman, outlast the former.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2018.