Tradition demands you visit this fair at least once when it's in town. And if
you've been to Numaish more than once, you'd wonder why. It is more or less the
same every year. But the true Hyderabadi shopper knows that what Numaish lacks
in originality, it adequately makes up in the huge, almost obscene, quantity of
products and discounts.
An important rule in the First-timer's Guide To Numaish is that there are two
kinds of rates at any given stall - bolne ka daam and dene ka. Anybody
who knows the basics of bargaining will know that the bolne ka daam is
usually close to twice the dene ka daam. So haggle without mercy. Rest
assured that they're ripping you off anyway.
Not all stores are deal-friendly, though. The Kashmiri tradesmen, for instance,
do give you a discount, but their rates are not as negotiable. This time, apart
from the usual row of dry-fruit stores - which, by the way, are quite successfully
selling saffron honey for Rs. 160 per jar - the Kashmiris have dress material
for Rs. 450 and thereabouts, but unfortunately there's nothing new in this category.
What is new are the lovely Kashmiri embroidered bedsheets (Rs. 800 single, Rs.
1,000 double), which are one of the fair's highlights this year. At the other
end of the spectrum, you will also find bedsheets for Rs. 150 a pair, at the expo
stalls toward the right of the exhibition entrance. There is a whole row of these
stalls, and it's a good idea to stroll for a bit before you buy anything, because
the choice does get better.
There's also some choice, although not too much, in the apparel section. What
you won't find here are one-of-a-kind pieces, but you will find every color of
the rainbow and then some. The ubiquitous chikan work stalls have some delicately
embroidered dress material and saris (both for Rs. 650 each). The Rajasthani stalls
have some new tye-and-dye material in some pretty outrageous colors (at Rs. 475
If mass-produced goods are not your style, then perhaps Numaish is not the place
for you. But in the midst of all those identical wares, you will have a couple
that stand out. The students of JNTU have put up a stall where you can buy some
cool hand-painted shirts for Rs. 175. Or you can bring your favorite top and have
it painted for Rs. 75.
Another interesting store is Sudhar, run by the state's prison welfare body. You'll
find some good deals here, all produced by the inmates of various central jails.
Plus you'll be aiding a cause. The fair is, of course, partial to the female of
the species. Rajasthani printed saris cost Rs. 150, and the latest at the Kolkata
stalls is the hand-painted pallau (Rs. 580). Most every sari comes with an attached
blouse, so all in all, it's reasonable. Kashmiri tussore silks, Rajasthani zari-threaded
work and the kanta embriodery are still hot favorites.
Shoes and bags are also everywhere, and it's heartening to see that the footwear
is actually practical and even quite trendy. All the styles have been borrowed
from the best stores in town, so you can stay with it at a fraction of the price
(average - Rs. 150 per pair). The bags are quite zany, some of them. The college
slingbags and the brilliantly colored totes are very cool. One absolutely mad
hot pink air bag, can be yours for as little as Rs. 130.
Winterwear is reasonable at Rs. 800 for a king-size waterproof jacket, and snuggly
blankets in the softest of fabrics will cost you anything from Rs. 1,500 to Rs.
350. Also check out the exercise gear at Tollywood Fashion Mela - some good track
pants are available at Rs. 175.
Numaish is fun for children, only if you head straight for the joyrides and leave
them there till the end. Drag them along with you to see the entire sprawling
fair, and you'll have one cranky toddler on your hands by the end of it. Entertainment-wise,
Numaish has the usual giant wheel, tora-tora and others. And food is also another
big hit here - you'll find anything from chaat to dosa.
The one great thing about Numaish is the mammoth variety you have there. Everything,
from casseroles for Rs. 65 to snazzy coffee-percolators, is just a few steps away.
And that's another thing; as you walk around taking in the sights, you'll never
realize how many miles you've clocked. It only hits you when you're all done and
have your arms laden with the best bargains Hyderabad can give you.