Palika Bazaar

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It started innocently enough.

Maybe inspired by our conversations about various Hindi movies with Nicky and Amar last night, Nathaniel turned the TV on this morning and flipped to a music video channel. A song came on from a movie we had not yet seen. It was a really sweet video. There was a boy trying to cheer up a girl with help from friends. In the end he presents her with a kitten and the girl lights up and throws her arms around him.

I have to admit, it is difficult to convince me to sit through a Bollywood movie. The movies are usually three hours long, and it is hard work to follow the storyline while reading subtitles. So when I said, “That looks like a cute movie. I would watch it,” Nathaniel leapt into action. After a jaunt down Main Bazaar (and a close call with a cow that was going way too fast – a boy in a scarf shop pulled me out of the way just in time) we ran into Amar.

“Can we buy DVDs on Main Bazaar?” Nathaniel asked over chai.

“Not Main Bazaar. But there is a market near Connaught Place. Palika Bazaar. Inside. Better for you.”

Wary as we were of “indoor markets,” we hadn’t encountered any DVDs in our frequent visits to the commission-based markets, so we jumped into an auto-rickshaw with Amar and off we went.

Palika Bazaar was a new experience. It was not the air-conditioned, fixed-price, government-sponsored market where we could get complementary chai while we shopped. It was also not Connaught Place, with its big department stores and coffee shops. It was like Main Bazaar, but without the dust and constant traffic. There were more people here. And the vendors were pushier. They would actually block our way to show us their wares. Fortunately, Amar knew where we were going, and led us to a DVD stall.

“Which movie you are looking for?” asked the shopkeeper.

“Jaante ya… Jaante na hai.”

He knew the film. A quick search revealed that the shop carried both an audio CD of all the songs in the movie, and a DVD of the music videos. No movie. We thanked them and moved on, following Amar to the next shop, which only had the audio CD.

Amar stopped a man outside of another shop and told him what we were looking for. He spoke quietly to another man, then looked quickly around. He motioned for us to follow him around the corner. “Come inside,” he said, in a low voice.

We found ourselves in small, undecorated room in the middle of the bazaar. The man stepped in behind us and pulled the sliding door closed, locking it in place. Nathaniel and I exchanged quizzical looks. We were given seats, and the man produced a packet of DVDs in Ziploc bags. He looked through the stack several times for our chosen movie, and then left to talk with an associate.

As the door closed behind him, Nathaniel started laughing. “Is this a new movie?” I asked Amar.

“Yes, very new. Still in theaters.”

Amar didn’t understand what was so funny.

The pirate-DVD dealer couldn’t find it for us (“Maybe tomorrow!”). So we moved on, and finally found a another (legal) movie as an alternative. We’ll try looking for the movie again in a few weeks.

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