Tanya Thomas discovers the shopper's paradise that Besant Nagar is...
In what started out as a quiet residential area, Besant Nagar has become quite the shopper's paradise. The shopping here is mostly concentrated in three pockets: the bifurcating roads opposite the beach, the road opposite the Church, and Besant Nagar Main Road (follow the sound of traffic; the first two spots are relatively quieter). All three focal points feature a healthy mix of brands, bargains and binge joints. And, yes, it comes with beach and bajji thrown in. Word of advice: devote entire days to discovering each cranny here because there are a lot of great buys you'll find hard saying no to.
Reebok, Upper Crest, Fabindia, and now Puma. Just like the many others in town. If you're willing to really shell out for unique and upscale, you'll want to check out stores starting with Purple for party wear, Thy Chillies near the beach for designer ethnic wear, or even the recently launched The Palace next to Giorgio/Naturals Ice-Cream. Shopaholic, bang opposite the beach, stocks for the bold and beautiful at throwaway prices. It's got that in-your-face element, if you're game. They also have chunky jewellery, belts and accessories you can pick up for unbelievable rates to complete your look. Then bag the look at Dora Bag Mall, on the Church Road.
Now we're talking! Any small store with ‘Fashion', ‘Casuals' and/or ‘Girls, Men's, Women's wear' (alternative spellings included) somewhere in the signboard is what you're looking for. The main road has Fast Fashion and Fashion Park, and further along near Theosophical Society, Fashion Folks for everyday outfits. Most of these places stock the export surplus of neighbouring brands; so raid, but check carefully for flaws before handing cash over. La Belle and Heels (you won't miss them as you walk down) have a pretty neat variety of footwear at different price ranges. There's also this little nook near ICICI Bank for cotton material where most of the bargain frenzy happens. “Tailoring available.”
The beach has another host of shops, like Wow, Extremes and Cape Kazuals. It's all pretty much the same from store to store; so it could be repetitive and sometimes quite disappointing too. On some days, you can walk in and out in under three minutes with nothing catching your eye. Cool and Cool is what a friend recommends for long, loose, branded-looking (Pape for Pepe) gym tracks and tees. And if you've done the requisite walking, it's impossible to miss the gypsies selling beaded chains, bracelets, earrings and other trinkets at real reasonable prices. Bargaining may not come easy, unless you're their regular customer. But hey, no harm in becoming one!
Bessie's range of stomach sutra is part of the city's culture. Crowds flocking here after 7 p.m. block out entrances at Mash, Giorgio, Pupil, Eden, Karaikudi, Anjappar, Once Upon a Pirate, Murugan, Cozee and even Planet Yumm. Emilios, Jelly Belly, and Cool Cats add to the dessert scene. For tired feet, there's also the Senza Spa and something like a roller skating-rink near the beach. But if you're done with the day's splurging, remember — for every Vishranthi, there's always a Hotpoint. Post-bargaining, sore throats can seek the lime soda rush or even a Bloody ‘Marry' (Amma's, Near Pupil — Not great). But nothing really beats ice-cream from a Kwality Walls pushcart as you stroll down the Elliot's promenade with the breeze ruffling your hair.
Tanya is a III Year B.Com. student at Stella Maris College.