If choice and convenience are indicators

then the quality of life in New Delhi, or at least South Delhi, seems to have improved. The vegetable vendor down the road, with his cart parked behind the small paanwaala, is offering mushrooms, sprouts and baby corn along with the usual potatoes, onions and green chilli. The quality of his tomatos was also far better than what I got in GK2 market. What’s interesting is that Alaknanda market has always seemed dusty and dull compared to the glitz and glamour of GK1 Main Market with its McDonalds, Esprit and Cartier.

But today’s foray seemed to tell me that while not in the best of shape, it actually was a microcosm of what a neighbourhood market should be. Fresh fruits and vegetables, books, magazines and newspapers, groceries, bakeries, pastry shops, the butcher, a few banks including a Citi ATM, tailors, plastics, stationary, a photography studio, the Xerox machine walla – was there anything you could not get done or buy at this market? Jewellery perhaps and fancy clothes, but that’s what malls are for, this market was for getting work done, not for lingering and strolling, gazing at the displays in the windows as one does elsewhere.

I also picked up fresh soft flat bread, branded of course, a vacuum pouch of Mughlai paneer for Rs 80 [that’s my $2 for today] and tiny bottles of green coconut water for Rs 15 each. At first the thought of having to throw away so many plastic bottles instead of the shell of a coconut seemed to be wasteful but then I remembered that in India, ragpickers would make sure nothing that could be sold for reuse would be left to rot in the dump. Oh well, I threw in a bit more in the garbage, just concerned that the plastic liner might hurt a cow. That’s odd. San Francisco has banned plastic bags in the city. And plastic bags are over running Delhi, even tiny shops who would have used bags made from old newspapers were giving away plastic bags. Maybe Delhi should ban plastic bags instead of golguppawalas?

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