Oye Hoe Dilli

Quite often, an encounter with Dilli-waalas evokes an odd mixture of awe, disgust and appreciation within me. I am against pointless generalizations. But Dilli waalas are truly something ! It's quite annoying to drive with them. Their utter disrespect for rules/ethics is evident. But the heart of dilli-behaviour lies in its marketplaces. A general store owner will slowly inch out of his land boundary and set the egg crates and pepsi stacks three feet away, marking his little territory. Banners with loud 'SALE SALE' graphics will be strung across poles that didn't expect it. Salesman will smile, get you chai-paani without making you feel obligated. Very rarely will you hear anyone say, "nahi milega."

This evening I went shopping for general purchases to ATTA market - an appalling example of illegal construction, indian congestion, pollution and behaviour reflecting the theme of this article. The whole of NOIDA loves it because that's the kind of market that screams variety and wide price ranges. Sandal shopping was first priority. We struggled to move in the intended direction, against the current of human mass. My dad pointed to 'Anand Shoes' and asked - "Yehi apni dukaan hai kya ? " The salesman jumped up - "Arre sir, aap andar to aaiye." As I reached the shop entrance, he gave me the eyebrow-raise greeting and shook hands with genuine enthusiasm - "aur bhaiya kya haal hain ?" I assure you all I don't have any memory of meeting this man. Of course I politely shook hands and went inside. I specified what I wanted. He bellowed something to the junior mundu. That guy in turn threw out a few boxes of sandals. (Those who have purchased shoes from this grade of shops must have noticed this quicky action that all salesman perfect - flipping the box and opening it in one smooth action. Somehow, it always seems impressive - a stamp of experience).

Eventually, we were down to two choices - a brownish sandal with a thick sole and a simpler flat sandal. This is where the exchange got interesting. Before the price is settled, the customer usually has to be convinced about his purchases. The reassurances can seem as sincere or hollow as one wants them to be. Questions can also be accusative. In such cases, the rejoinder from the salesman has to be both quick and convincing. Any blemishes can be fatal to the purchase.

Customer 0---Salesman 0

I wore the flat sandal, walked around and commented - "bhaiya, thode din to leather kaatega." (the leather will bite for a while) He quickly replied, "Arre humne to saare daant nikal diye hain"(I have removed all the teeth).
Customer 0---Salesman 1

I wore the other pair. The heel seemed excessive. My mother said "heel thoda zyaada lag raha hai." He quicky said, "inko pehan kar bhaiya aasman ke taare chooenge."
Customer 0---Salesman 2

I had pretty decided to buy the flat sandal. I asked, "Ye kitne dil chalega?" He assured me, "Bhaiya ek saal to chalna chahiye." That was quite a shock. I retorted - "Lo ! Ye Sarojini Nagar ke sandal ek saal chale hain. Aapka bhi ek saal hi chalega !!" He took only a second to recover - "Chalega to 2-3 saal. Aap to ek saal mein humse aur bhi sandal khareedenge na ?
Customer 0 --Salesman 3

We bargained. And bought it. The leather has been kind to me for these few hours. the design seems fine. Will it last for an year ? Lets pray :)

I wonder how a similar trip in good old bengal would have been.
--"Bhaiya, Sandal khareedna hai."
--"Hobe na !"


  1. no mention of liquor .. and here i was thinkin thats what fuelled u onto the dance floor..:D

  2. Lol!!1 nice one!
    And I am oh-so-familiar to this whole exercise!!
    *flaunting my brand new sandals!*

  3. haa haa haaa ...sandal kaat to nahin rahe naa...

  4. Dilli is awesome.
    I remember going to CP to buy a pair of Jeans during middle school. The mundoo of the shop had an infectious laugh. My dad thought he was laughing at one of us and asked the shop owner why he was laughing. The shop owner had to display his wittiness and say "Kuch nahin bhai sahib, yeh bachpan se hi aisa hasta hai. Iske paida hone se pehle iski maa bhi aise hi hansti thi"
    Not sure what my dad thought, but we did end up with a pair of Jeans.

  5. Correction -
    --"Dada, Sandal khareedna hai."
    --"Hobe na !"


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