If you have an eye for detail, an eye on your pocket, and need a pair of spectacles, head for Ballimaran. Deep inside Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, this street is for those of us who suffer from poor vision and also those who have a penchant for trendy shades.
Whatever pleases you — tortoise shell; titanium; or plastic and metallic frames in a multitude of colours — they’re all to be found here and for a fraction of what they cost at upmarket opticians’.
Ballimaran, which is India’s wholesale market for spectacle frames, sunglasses, contact lens and associated paraphernalia like spectacle cases, contact lens cases, cleaning and soaking solutions, and of course that little scrap of yellow fabric which comes with every pair of spectacles.
Ballimaran has roughly three grades of every product being sold. In Delhi lingo, the first is the quality that sells at Karol Bagh and Janpath on the streets, the second is the kind stocked by respectable colony opticians in Lajpat Nagar, Rohini, Patparganj etc and the third is the quality to be found only in malls and posch shopping centres like Khan Market and Greater Kailash I.
Ibad-ur-Rehman, proprietor, Prime Optics explains, “the difference is in the the finish and accessorisation”.
Ballimaran stocks both indigenously produced goods and those that have been imported. The prices depend largely on your bargaining skills.
The rule of thumb is, pay only about 50 per cent of what you would pay for it outside and if you’re looking for premium stuff, most shopkeepers will not part with it for more than a 40 per cent discount on market prices.