With just a day left for Deepavali, hectic shopping continues along the narrow market lanes of the town. But for Nagapattinam's not-so-spoilt-for-choice-citizenry, what the shops offer is what they get.
In the wake of price rise, hiked costs and the line up of festivities, The Hindu stops by for their take.
As for E. K. Selvaraj, who runs a mess which boasts of a steady clientele of office-goers and scribes, the upward prices of commodities is a greater discomfort. Yet, he has not pruned down on his purchases.
His rationale is this; “Deepavali comes once a year, and generally one would not want to cut down on celebrations then. Last year, I bought just the crackers for Rs.800, and now the same quantity costs Rs.1,500,” he says.
Other shoppers and shopkeepers echo his sentiments. The prices of crackers and clothes have gone up to anywhere from 10 per cent to 20 per cent.
That is not all. For Geetha, a homemaker, shopping in Nagapattinam is only hard on the pocket, with no aesthetic satisfaction.
“We usually shop from Chennai or Tiruchi before the festival season, but this time, travel was not possible. We spent the same money, with limited choices,” says Ms. Geetha.
For some who have managed to make purchases from Tiruchi or Chennai, varieties and choices have proved money's worth if not a money-saver.
But for Ravi, taxi driver, who had gone to shop in a high-profile garment store in Tiruchi with his wife and three-year-old son the week before, “The towering showrooms of Tiruchi fleece more than the petty shopkeepers of Nagapattinam.” “I knew this would be the case, but one has to satisfy his family,” Ravi's grudging acknowledgment.
The general consensus was that with increased costs, line up of festivities, and the ever rising human needs that has blurred the fragile line between luxuries and necessities, what has gone down was household savings.
Interestingly, even the shopkeepers are not a happy lot. For them, the thriving cities pose competition and the general cynicism has affected their sales. “People talk of prise rise as if they do not affect us. Our costs have gone up to, and they expect us to throw away goods as if nothing has changed.” And the debate continues.