Bara Sarafa Bazaar: Indore’s jewellery market by day and street-food hub by night groans amid poor liquidity conditions
“There are very few customers in the market since the government’s announcement on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. We are small jewellers and cannot accept the demonetised notes."
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Pawan Sharma has a tiny jewellery store, Daftary Jewellers, set up way back in 1959 by his parents. But for the last couple of days he is worried. “There are very few customers in the market since the government’s announcement on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. We are small jewellers and cannot accept the demonetised notes; and not many of us have facilities to accept credit or debit card payments,” he says.
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His son is down with fever and has been advised a blood test by the doctor — Sharma has used up almost all the money that he had at home in Rs 100 rupee notes for it. Further down the half a kilometre stretch, the employees at Balaji Jewellers are uneasy about accepting a debit card payment for a pair of anklets from a customer. “We don’t have a card swipe machine but could get it done from a nearby store. However we may have to charge you extra.”
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As evening falls, Sarafa Bazaar makes its famous transformation into a street-food hub. From 8 pm to well past midnight, the street is abuzz with vendors selling local vegetarian snacks — bhutte ka kees, garaadu, chhole-tikiya, dahi vada, samosa.
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There are vendors dishing out local sweets like jalebaas, shikanji and gaajak. And, finally, flavoured and decorated paan. The interesting detail about this gastronomic night market is that the vendors move in only after the jewellery stores have shut down.
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But tonight is different, the jewellers haven’t shut shop and left. A group of them, dressed in traditional dhotis and turbans, are talking in hushed voices. They are discussing the fallout of demonetisation. “Business has been very bad for us because we mostly do cash transactions and not too many people have been able to procure new notes,” says one of them who doesn’t want to be named. He adds that difficult times are also ahead for people who are trying to sell their large stocks of gold. “At this market, a lot of people come to sell their gold too, but they want to be paid in new currency notes which we don’t have yet.”
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Snack vendors, too, see a drop in business, since people don’t have cash in hand to spend and prefer to hold on to their currency notes till banking becomes normal. Joshiji of the famous Joshi Dahi Bada House is a showman — he serves the dahi vada in a paper plate and throws it up in the air and deftly catches it. But he too is not in his usual high spirits. “It’s festival time and we were expecting many more people,” he says.
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