People must know the nuances of bargaining; otherwise, they may be taken for a ride

The word ‘Sandhai’, conjures up the images of jostling crowds baptised in consumerist values, in one’s mind. Pallavaram Sandhai or Friday shandy (the word in vogue)…. is like any rural weekly market down south. For Chennaiites, the scene resembles what one comes across South Usman Road.

The air is filled with the buzz of the buyers and sellers; just like Ranganathan Street in T. Nagar. People from south Chennai, Chengalpattu and Kancheepuram throng this place every Friday in order to enjoy good bargains.

The sandhai dates back to the days of Freedom Struggle. Even as early as 1800s soldiers bought animals from traders here but things changed over the years. The produce of the market has undergone a sea change to suit needs of the people. As the sandhai assembles on Fridays, the whole venue, it seems, bursts at the seams, what with the traffic chaos, the cops on duty, the people literally rubbing shoulders with one another. So many goods, though most of them second-hand, sold at cheaper prices. The traders from various parts of Chennai converge here, converse with consumers in a familiar tone, and convince them to buy articles, of course, for a song.

As for the goods, name it, you will get it. From cassettes to cattle; pens to pen-drives; dress materials to DVDs; food stuff to electronic items; table fans to air-coolers and air-conditioners; fruits, fresh veggies and flower pots to furniture; fridges to fowls; TV sets to tea packets; lamps to laptops; antiques to array of household appliances…. Everything under the sun comes at throwaway prices. However, people must know the nuances of bargaining; otherwise, they may be taken for a ride.

 G. Uma, a housewife, says, “I come to the Friday market with my children, to enjoy a pleasant village atmosphere. I came to know about this last year; from then on, I am a frequent visitor. Buying lime sodas and other eatables for my children is a pass time here. For people like us, this sandhai itself is an amusement park.” V. Mangalam, a senior citizen, says, “I come to this market every week for buying vegetables and fruits, as they are fresh arrivals from farms or from nearby villages. The main attraction is the bargain and low prices.”

Murugesan, a trader from Chengalpattu, says, “Every week I come to Pallavaram to buy tools, chargers, home appliances and any other new arrivals. I buy for Rs. 2,000 to 3,000 and sell those items in my village near Chengalpattu. Thereby, I earn a profit of at least Rs.1,500 every week.”  “Though the Friday market is not a match for Pudupet, buying and selling the spares from here does help earn a reasonable profit,” he added.

After having a taste of just a slice of the shopping thrill at the sandhai, I came out of the suffocating crowd and just was about to bump into an old lady whose face was lit up with the lovely glitter of newly bought jewellery sets just bought there (of course, the imitation variety).