Sunday, April 10, 2011

Surviving Palika Bazaar

There are very few reasons at this stage in my life I have the need to go to Palika Bazaar, which is a market located beneath Connaught Place in the center of Delhi. However, when I decided I'd try to buy cricket jerseys for my buddies as a novelty gift for an upcoming trip to BBQ Fest in Memphis while home in May, fake cricket jerseys seemed the way to go. The loose translation of "fake" in Hindi is Palika (note, that is not even close to an accurate translation); however, the irony isn't lost that the place where you go in Delhi to buy fake anything is literally located underground.

Palika is dark, smoky, crowded, and could probably be described as seedy. I've often said that Palika Bazaar is a CNN Breaking News headline waiting to happen, which is to say it's only a matter of time before you see a yellow banner on CNN with the headline, "Fire in Delhi's underground Palika Bazaar, 419 killed, thousands injured". Of course, I first said this over six years ago and it still hasn't happened, so as usual, I've proven to be an idiot.Regardless, I don't make a practice of going there too often. It's the risk averse side of me.

After a surprisingly thorough security check where they very deliberately checked the back of my waistband for a firearm (again, not a great sign if they're checking security that closely), I descended the ramp and was immediately assualted by merchants trying to sell me jeans, belts, t-shirts, jerseys, DVD's, whatever. If you want it and it's been copied, Palika Bazaar has it.

Thankfully, the first row of shops I wandered upon was primarily textile based. I was looking for cricket jerseys but had three criteria: (1) they had to be DLF Indian Premier League jerseys, (2) I didn't want more than one jersey from any team, and (3) they needed to be large enough to fit 9 different average to above average sized Americans. With India's world cup victory and the IPL season kicking off the day before, the first criteria wasn't tough to meet. Finding nine different teams proved to be a little more of a challenge. Chennai Super King and Mumbai Indian jerseys were everywhere; beyond that it got more difficult. When you combine the second and third criteria, the task became near impossible. Shirts that fit six foot tall people that weigh around 200 pounds don't seem to be the target item at Palika.

I found one place that claimed to have nine shirts in the appropriate size, but they wouldn't actually produce the goods wouldn't come down enough in price to make it worthwhile. Had I had the patience to actually purchase from six or seven different vendors, there's a chance I could have pieced together what I wanted; however, after breathing the recirculated, underground air long enough, it was time to hit the surface. Palika is a lot like scuba diving, there's a finite time you can spend in the water. Unfortunately, my expedition was a failure. I'll need to find some other cheap Indian novelty to entertain an easily entertained group of American idiots in May. And yes, I'm one of those idiots.


  1. Our teenager LOVES Palika for video games. I have yet to visit ... and likely won't, based on his description (and yours!)

  2. DelhiBound, probably a wise move; when you leave here you still should be able to say your India experience is complete without a visit.

  3. Good one. I really liked it. This place is well-known for items at very cheap prices. The Bazaar, howsoever, also do have a good name for the widely available prohibited items like stolen goods, fake designer products, pirated CDs, software and movies. Check out more about Palika Bazaar.