For the past seven years he has seen the heart of Chandigarh continuously beating with happiness and welcoming everyone with the same charisma. But he gets sad when he rarely finds the same amount of crowd around him. The parking area where he has spent many years of his life no longer hears the same sound of horns.
Like every August, his duty hours in the scorching heat are the same but this August is different for him. Madan Lal, 42, who issues parking slips to visitors, is a familiar face at the entrance to the parking area of Sector 17 for years now. "Pichle kuch mahino me bahut fark pad gaya…kehte hai koi badaa mall khula hai (There is a huge difference in the past few months... have heard that some mall has opened in the city)," he says with just hope left in his eyes.
When you ask him the reasons behind Sector-17 market losing its sheen, he shares, "On weekends the footfall has decreased to 50%. Everything has just happened in the past three months. We used to get crowd before that. Everyone says that it is the newly opened mall where people prefer to go now."
Adding, his mate Joginder Singh says, "Many factors are adding to it. Malls are fully air-conditioned, and in summers that's what people prefer."
Admitting the loss the city's heart has faced, president of Traders' Association, Sector 17, Kamaljit Singh Panchi says, "The opening of malls or summer season is not the sole reason for decrease in footfall. From the time the district courts have shifted, there is a decrease in number of people visiting the area. Earlier, whosoever used to come to the courts would make it a point to visit the Sector-17 market. The shifting of bus stand has also made a lot of difference."
Adding to it, Darpan Kapoor, owner of Kapsons who has 14 stores in Sector 17, 18 stores in Elante Mall and eight stores in DT Mall, says, "There is a culture in the city that residents do get lured to any new place which opens here. But after sometime, they return to the same place. Also, a lot of changes are expected to be made in the Sector-17 market. The Business Promotion Council is planning to start various activities such as Sufi nights."
When mostly everybody is talking about the change Sector-17 market has witnessed, Neeraj Bajaj, owner of Sindhi Sweets with stores in DT, Sector 17 and Elante, says, "Nothing can affect or has affected the market. It's just the weather change. There is a particular clientele who will still prefer Sector 17 over malls. Nothing can divert their love for the place. Indian minds don't change overnight."