Thursday, February 25, 2010

Supermarkets in Delhi. Do they Exist?

As far as I have checked, there are no proper supermarkets in this city. They are mostly kirana shops and markets, where you buy packaged goods at one shop, lentils and rice at another, fresh vegetables at another and meat at yet another.

I walked into a shop in Khan Market (read - expat oriented) the other week to pick
up some shampoo and I picked up a bottle to check the price (normally printed
under or behind the bottle in India). The shopkeeper called to me and said "Madamji please mat chuiyega, kuch chahiye tho batao, hum denge" (Madam, please don't touch! If you need something, tell me, I will give it to you!)

After 10+ years of picking up products comparing price, weight, brand, manufacturer, fragrance, freshness etc, etc, this was a rude shock.

Then a Delhi veteran, told me that a couple of supermarket chains like Spencers had opened, slightly away from the main markets. I went into one today to stock some basics - bread, milk, eggs, rice, onions, potatoes, oil. It did have trolleys and reasonable space to walk around without bumping into anyone else, so I did my shopping, deciding I would not go back here for either meat or vegetables which did not look fresh enough.

At the check out counter, the cashier asked me for my bags. I asked him "what bags?"
He said - the Delhi Government has prohibited us from using plastic bags, so customers have to bring their own bags! They did not even have an option for me to buy cloth/resuable bags from them (like Carrefour/Spinneys do).

Fortunately my Indian brain was working, I told him to get me one of the packing cartons which manufacturers send their products in. Otherwise I wonder what I would have dropped first if I had attempted to carry it all in my arms.... The eggs, the milk, the bread, the oil?

Then I carefully put everything occupying my hands into my purse, my cell phone, the bill, tissue etc. So as to have both hands free to carry the box. As I took a few steps from the counter to the exit door, the security man at the door who had been observing the entire bagging/boxing issue from the door as I was the only customer in-store, demanded to see my bill!

The ground was definitely not clean, there was no table nearby where I could keep the box, while I freed my hands to search inside my purse for that elusive slip of paper which must have already found its way into the recesses, so I gave him the box and told HIM to hold it while I searched for the bill. Know what? With the box in his hands, he wasn't that interested to look at the bill once I'd found it!

I used to love grocery shopping, but this is bordering on ridiculous! Any other tips from anyone in Delhi are welcome. But, I refuse to shop at Big Bazaar though. Every person on the staff treats you as though you are a shoplifter from the moment you even approach their store!

Looks like my only solution to avoid this madness is to do a weekly run to Gurgaon which is about an hour away from our current location. Tips on your favorite Gurgaon supermarket and address are also very welcome.


sangeeta said...

laughed a lot reading this...
hope you get used to all this madness.
I shop at Big Apple outlet near my place n am used to the security man now who counts the number of items only ,the shoppers actually do shoplifting and part of the blame goes to them too.

For veggies n fruit shopping try to locate some weekly markets around your place , you'll get a lot of fresh produce and tremendous variety ....much like farmers markets .

Kim said...

Thanks for this SAngeetha. The Big Apple near my house- I havent been satisfied by the stuff - it doesnt feel very fresh.

while I do visit the Malviya Nagar or INA market for fresh fruits and vegetables, I do miss being able to shop for everything that I need in one place with a shopping trolley.

sangeeta said...

yes...the idea of a supermarket has to wait here i guess..

Michelle Peters - Jones said...

Lord yeah!!! The stupid security men... that's one part of shopping in Indian supermarkets I definitely don't miss. Drives me mad that they stand and watch the billig process and then demand to see the bill. No politeness either.

And Kim, deffo agree on the Big Bazaar experience. I conducted an experiment in the Mang store once, went in in my rattiest clothes... and one of the staff followed me ALL THE WAY around the store and checked after every item I picked up. I deliberately picked up everything and put it down and picked up more stuff... drove her nuts!!! In the end, I walked out and walked into the Adidas store where I proceeded to buy a pair of shoes (the woman was STILL watching me and swung the bag about as I walked past her :-))

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