In the 1980s, when Nehru Place was built, it was meant to be a hub for industry. Today, even though it is still growing in that direction, the place has emerged as one of Delhi’s most hectic commercial hubs. Indeed, Nehru Place has become a symbol of post-Independence Delhi.
Exploring the maze of shops, one discovers an entire subculture of piracy, entrepreneurship and hi-tech barter. The USP of Nehru Place lies in its ability to evolve and adapt. While the higher floors in the high-rises continue to serve as offices, most of lower floors are shops and showrooms.
Think of a technological commodity, and you can buy it here — branded and officially released in India or otherwise. So, HP and Compaq showrooms rub shoulders with the likes of Sharma IT House and Chopra Technologies. Those who cannot afford rental space open shop on the paved plaza. The most fascinating part is the true spirit of bargaining that wins its way here, and often you find people fighting their way to the best deal possible. If one salesman asks you for Rs 500 for a product, the next one is sure to dangle a lesser offer. This is a mecca for the tech-savvy generation — hordes of schoolboys look for pirated video games and college students hunt for spare parts for their engineering experiments.
The market also attracts those who are there simply to eat and have a good time. The restaurants and coffee shops are generally crowded at all hours. Most of these originally opened to cater to the lunch demands of the usual office crowd in the area. Today the clientele is mixed — you find a fair sprinkling of couples, families, college students and schoolchildren.
Helping business are the movie theatres. The good old Paras cinema apart, Satyam Cineplexes has opened a fancy new multiplex just across the road. As I left, the charm of Nehru Place became clearer to me. It’s a peculiarly heterogeneous as Delhi itself.