Stone-studded earrings that glint. Jhumkas tinkling merrily. Garlands of brightly-coloured necklaces. Stacks of bangles, bracelets and rings. I already have several boxes stuffed to the hilt with baubles. But I cannot help but gravitate towards this little stall on MG Road opposite the metro station. Girl thing, I guess. Or maybe it’s just this girl.
The proprietor Sathyan greets me cheerfully and asks if I’m looking for anything specific. I shake my head and give his wares a once over, my eyes falling on one particular piece—a gilt coloured piece with dull red stones. I try them on and ask him if he thinks they are too big for me. He shakes his head, laughs and hands me a mirror remarking; “Now big pieces are fashion.”
He should know. His stall has been part of the landscape of MG Road for close to 30 years now, “I started this in 1985. I used to work in a hotel but I didn’t really like it so I decided to set up my own business,” he says adding that he sources most of his products from Delhi-based suppliers and sells them at a decent margin.
His clientele mostly included college girls.
“They bargain a lot but they also are ready to experiment with new styles of jewellery,” he laughs, admitting however that business is a lot slower than it used to be, “MG Road was the shopping hub of
the city when I first set up
business. Now there are malls all over and people prefer going to them.”
Another thing that has affected him is the moving of the airport from HAL Layout to Devanahalli, “I lost a lot of my foreign customers when the move happened,” he rues.
Despite his problems, Sathyan is remarkably cheerful and at peace with himself, “I make enough to make ends meet, see lots of good people every day and I am happy. My wife ekes a living as a cook and both my daughters are studying. The older one is doing a bachelors degree in commerce from Christ College and the younger one is doing her tenth standard.
Although I am not educated, I ensured both my girls were and I am very proud of them. I am nearly 50 now and I may not be able to work for long. But I know both my girls will find good jobs and do well in life,” he says, handing over a little packet containing my purchases.
And do his daughters ever wear the jewellery he sells?
“Not very often even though I tell them to,” he laughs. “They prefer smaller things.”
(A weekly column on men and women who make Bangalore what it is)