Capital's posh markets struggle to shake off sealing blues

The old couple that sells gajras in Khan Market daily after sunset look bored. A few kilometres away from Khan, as it is colloquially addressed, lies its less posh yet equally popular cousins, Defence Colony (Def Col) and Meherchand Market. DNA visited Khan, Def Col and Meherchand on Friday as it inched towards the end of the week. Moving to Def Col and Meherchand, parking is a breeze since there aren't too many visitors. "Weekends are good for us as we make more money than usual,"the man says as his wife nods in agreement.

The old couple that sells gajras in Khan Market daily after sunset look bored. Braving chilly winds, they hope for some late night patrons to buy their flowers. "Weekends are good for us as we make more money than usual,"the man says as his wife nods in agreement. But they know, like the fate that befell on the toniest market in the Capital four days ago, business is currently slow for them as well.

A few kilometres away from Khan, as it is colloquially addressed, lies its less posh yet equally popular cousins, Defence Colony (Def Col) and Meherchand Market. Dotted with high end restaurants and designer stores, they mirror the same story — of downed shutters, sporadic shoppers and diners.

After the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) sealed establishments in these three markets over the past two weeks for building by-laws violation, these places have turned into a pale shadow of their past. Normally teeming with activity through the week with a steady stream of revelers out to shop, socialise or just soak in the energy, shops owners are now hoping that they can soon return with the same gusto.

DNA visited Khan, Def Col and Meherchand on Friday as it inched towards the end of the week. Hoping to find a throbbing carousal of Delhiites out to unwind with drinks and food, DNA passed through the cobbled alleys of Khan that surprisingly had a lot of room for a Friday night to walk around without skirting on the sides. Equally bemusing was not being asked to wait for a table in any eatery, something that is not the scenario normally here on weekends as restaurants are packed to the brim.

"There is less rush since the sealing happened four days ago. While restaurants are still operational and only some part of few of them has been closed, people are still keeping away because they assume eateries have been shut. Business has also been affected by about 10 to 15 per cent," said the manager of an Italian joint who did not wish to be named.

Moving to Def Col and Meherchand, parking is a breeze since there aren't too many visitors. The mood is sombre and the markets look forlorn like a beloved awaiting the return of his sweetheart. No more beelines outside famous restaurants serving from Indian to Continental to French. Also missing are fashion enthusiasts that hop from one store to another in Meherchand to lay their hands on the latest sartorial options.

Says Jagdish Gupta, secretary, Defence Colony Market Association, "It is painful to go through all this when we have followed all the necessary rules. We fear that as days pass by, and if there is no timely relief, we will be struggling to stay afloat with exorbitant rentals etc."

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