There's something about the New Year that makes the staunchest of hearts go all
wistful. Perhaps it's the symbiotic association with the idea of starting afresh,
a second chance, maybe even a twenty-second one that appeals to the bungling idiot
in most of us. Something happens to people around this time.
For one, the media feels it is obliged to go all soppy, philosophizing about the inevitable passage of time and other trivia. And then, the New Year is also the time when one is bombarded with a barrage of products and services, all proudly sporting the 'all new' tag.
It's barely three weeks into the New Year, and you have every Tom, Dick and Haribhai, who is into anything from manufacturing ball bearings to trading in plastic buckets, falling over himself trying to get you to buy his stuff. And now they are all here in the Hyderabad Exhibition Grounds at the All India Industrial Exhibition - 2001. It is presumed, it seems, that this brilliant promotional tactic will instantly catapult their two-bit outfits into the Fortune 500 list.
And they may yet be proven true; if the hundreds of visitors, with contented smiles, clutching packets brimming with newly acquired items, are anything to go by. Blame it on the enthusiasm of the New Year spirit, but it is happening.
And cashing in on this spending spree of the Hyderabadis are industries from all over the country. From Kashmiri shawls to shell-work off the shores of the South, from the chikan work of Lucknow to the bed sheets of Ludhiana, from the Kantha saris of Bengal to the dry fruits of Gujarat and much more, some 300 shops of varying shapes and sizes beckon at the willing customer, offering just about anything under the sun. And with prices not touching the sky, the shopping crazy Hyderabadi is only too happy to oblige. Though the range of prices is wide stretched, the average item is priced with the middle-class pocket in mind.
With shops, side-panel to side-panel, lining both sides of the pathway, you might end up with a sprain in the neck from all the turning that it has to endure. But they are selling ointments and medicines here, too, so that shouldn't be too much of a worry. The stalls are mainly divided by the type of wares they have to offer - garments, leather, household items, art, electrical/electronic appliances and more.
And there's no need to shop till you drop, because all you have to do is to go to where you have these food stalls offering munch-ons to sumptuous meals from the regular pani-puri to Mughlai khana. Strategically spread all over the place are the popcorn and cool drink stalls.
And if your little one is giving you too much trouble, there is a horde of rides and games to keep them happy as well. Most of the rides are priced Rs. 10 to Rs. 15, and deserving special mention are the giant wheel and the toy-train takes you on a complete tour of the fair.
Among all this small-scale industry stuff are quite a few bigwigs too - KenStar, LG and India Lights to mention a few. Offering information along with a functional display of their product range, these stalls steal your attention with their remarkable stall arrangement and design. Notably imaginative among them are the ones of Medimix - a mountain with a waterfall - and Sundrop Refined Oil - a replica of the Lotus Temple.
Surprise entries came from a few over-ambitious dotcoms which, true to this cyber city's fame, have provisions of browsing the web from right there, and keep requesting people to register on their sites. But the crowd is too busy sending emails and e-cards to friends.
Another wild card is this computer generated art, retrospectively called The Third Eye, which is a sheet covered with splashes of color and weird designs. But you have to stare at this bizarre piece of art for 30 seconds to see the actual picture - in three dimensions - evolving out of the background.
So whether it is a gorgeous Rajasthani lehenga or a humble scrubber to keep it clean that you want to buy, this is the place you should be to. As long as your New Year resolution is not to avoid overspending in impulsive buying, that is.
One final piece of advice. If you are taking your wife to this asylum of temptation, make sure you're carrying a thick wallet. You, otherwise, run the risk of taking back home a dissatisfied spouse.