‘We prefer made-in-China to second-hand footwear’

KARACHI: “Buy a watch for Rs200, watches for Rs200 only,” called out a vendor with a cart full of shining wrist watches of all types and colours in Bohri Bazaar.

Asked if the watches at that price would even be durable, the man smiled broadly to said: “Of course, they are durable. They are made in China!”

Another vendor selling similar watches at a little distance while confirming that they were also made in China said he had watches priced from Rs50 to Rs350. “The Rs350 watches include a stopwatch, too,” he said. “It’s Chinese stuff, therefore reasonably priced, so why not?” he said.

At Zainab Market and the other ready-made garment stores around it, parents with armies of children were busy selecting Eid clothes for them. “Well, our Eid preparation is all done. We are only here for the kids,” said a father, Ghulam Kibria, counting the little heads surrounding him to check he wasn’t missing anyone.

And why leave the kids’ shopping till the end? “Ready-made clothes can be bought any time so their shopping is never an issue. As for us, we had to first buy the material and then do the rounds of tailors,” he said.

The children needed not just new clothes but new shoes as well. “The clothes and shoes made in China are reasonably priced, yes, but not so durable. See, I just touched this strap and the buckle came off,” said Perveen Kausar, a mother selecting footwear for her children near Zainab Market.

“Still, we prefer ‘made in China’ to Lunda Bazaar,” commented Zubaida Bibi, an elderly woman there. “I got vests, socks and so many other things so cheap and it was all China-made. Also the shoes that are made in China are so reasonably-priced and big on variety. Why buy second-hand when you are getting new stuff at the same price?” she said.

Meanwhile, some mothers argued with the shopkeeper to bring out a bigger size for a dress or shirt they liked for their daughter or son only to be informed by the shopkeeper that he thought the one she had would fit the child perfectly. The customer was not always right in the shopkeepers’ eyes.

The Eid shopping rush at shopping centres everywhere has forced the traffic police to take extra measures to prevent the roads from clogging up. Though private vehicles were allowed to enter various commercial areas, public transport such as rickshaws and taxis were not allowed in. In many areas the private cars were also requested to drop passengers and part at a distance.

Con women and pickpockets

Not just traffic police, regular police personnel also remained vigilant. Sub-Inspector Surayya Hussain at Gulf Shopping Centre near Teen Talwar said she had caught three women pickpockets only a day earlier at the shopping centre. “Some people aren’t really interested in shopping though they pretend to be. They are looking to steal from you instead. One woman shopper here recently didn’t even realise that she was only carrying her purse straps while her purse had been cut off and taken away by some thug. And by the time she noticed it was too late,” the SI said.

Another con woman outside the shopping centre was telling people that she had been robbed and needed at least Rs150 for a taxi fare to reach home. But she wasn’t stopping asking for the amount after receiving it from one or two simpletons.

Apart from them there were also other people at various shopping centres who had not really come there for shopping. “My daughter had fever and has been rather miserable all evening so I brought her here to show her all the lights,” smiled Sehrish, a young mother holding and rocking a teary-eyed infant in her arms outside Gold Mark shopping centre on Korangi Road in Defence Phase-I.

Inside the shopping centre, the unstitched clothes shops and the bangles and cone henna shops wore a vacant look but there were plenty of customers at the footwear, ready-made garment and trinket shops. Ahmed Tareen, vice president of Gold Mark, explained that the unstitched material shops had few customers “because the tailors are no longer taking orders”.

Many young women while ignoring the bangle shops made a beeline for the hair clips and trinket shops where the shopkeeper announced each item cost Rs30. “Well these things are all part of last-minute shopping. And being so cheap makes them more attractive for us,” laughed Asma Hanif, a young shopper.

As for the women not interested in the cone henna packs, it was explained by a woman in a burqa, who declined to give her name, that these days everyone was aware that the packs contained less natural ingredients and more chemicals. “We eat with our hands, feed our children with our hands, who would want chemicals on their hands? No thank you,” she said.

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