Saturday, November 27, 2010

IITF @ Pragati Maidan

This year is the 30th occurance of the IITF India International Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan. Hailed as the best fair held in Delhi, I decided to accompany my husband who had to go there on a market visit (his company was one of the sponsors of the fair).

Inspite of having sponsor and delegate passes, we had to get into the long queues outside the maidan. The police were reasonably efficient and it wasn't too much of an ordeal. Those who did not have bags went through after a personal check. Those with bags had to pass them through a scanner before gaining entry to the grounds.

The state pavillions all had displays related to their green endeavours. Except UP, this had more pictures of Mayawati, her elephants and the constructions she had carried out and named after her favourite men rather than anything concrete. It was also the most chaotic of  all the pavillions we visited and the only place I felt threatened by the possibility of a stampede. Most other State pavillions had one floor dedicated to green endeavours and another to products crafted in their state.

The Maharashtra Pavillion had a beautiful Ganesh pandal just as one entered.

The Karnataka Pavillion was designed like  an ancient temple and had some wonderful wood work on display.

The Rajasthani Pavillion had a beautiful and intricately worked ceiling covered with mirrors and miniature paintings.

We had heard a lot of favourable things about this fair and how it was a shoppers paradise. The International Stalls are a huge draw for shoppers who hope to acquire something that can be labelled "foreign" especially if they don't possess a passport.

There were stalls from Iran - foods, Pakistan - stone work, foods and fabrics, Turkey - lamps and ceramics, China - accessories. We only went into one of the foreign pavillions, but once I picked up the Pakistani masalas I was looking for, we were done.

The fair is so large that it is impossible to visit all the pavillions, so we had to skip a few. There were entire pavillions dedicated to cosmetics, household goods and the like which we just didn't have the time to see.

By the end of the day, we realised that we had only picked up edible products. Gajak from a small mithaiwala who had come from Eastern UP. Masala Powders from the Pakistani brangs Shaan and Laziza (brands I grew to appreciate when we lived in Dubai), especially the Memoni Mutton Biryani Masala. Bhoot Jholakia (spiciest chilli in the world) from the Assam pavillion. Assorted churans which were carefully selected by my husband after umpteen samplings. Some lovely ginger infused honey which is a wonderful antidote to the itchy throats this weather is causing. Amla laddus which are excellent digestives. Tri coloured Rajasthani papads. Berries and saffron from Iran.
I found quite a few products I had been searching for, for awhile and some new items that were begging to be tried out. The fabrics and handicrafts weren't at all enticing, except in the Khadi Pavillion. They were decent quality but none of the uniqueness of products I saw at the Dastkaar Nature Bazaar.

My favourite of all the pavillions was the Khadi pavillion with traditional hand spun cloth and traditionally prepared handicrafts.
With 150,000 visitors last Saturday and the 50,000 delegates, the area was quite crowded and it was an ordeal to push through which had us more exhausted than we should have been. Most families were in a holiday mood and had carried picnics along with them.

Other than the hard-to-find food items, the other highlight of my day was the 4pm show put up by the armymen with their extremely well trained dogs.

Not a bazaar I would return to, unless I visited during one of the business only days before it is thrown open to the public.

The Food had so many varieites, that it deserved a seperate Blog post of its own. View my Photo Essay on the Food on offer at IITF

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