Having finished our business errand by noon, we had some time to kill on our hands. And though Chennai isn’t a place one might call tourist-y, it does have a few interesting landmarks. I still remember my first visit (way back in 1997) when I spent almost an entire day at Mount Road’s Higginbothams. This time around, book-shopping was not at all on our list. And to see the rapidly urbanizing face of Chennai, we thought about going to either City Center or Spencer’s Plaza. Then someone else suggested Burma Bazaar and Singapore Market (Electronics & gizmos); and the movie fanatics wanted to go to Sathyam Cinemas! In the end, owing to the paucity of a private vehicle at our disposal and my apparent dislike towards auto/taxi-wallahs, we decided to hitch-hike our way to someplace nearby…..and thus ended up at T Nagar.
The first thing we searched for in T Nagar was a Saravana Bhavan . It is arguably Chennai’s finest eatery chain and defines South Indian Food like no one else does. If Kamat rules in Bengalooru and Dhabas rule in Punjab, Saravana Bhavan lords over in Chennai. But before we could hit upon Saravana – the eatery, we chanced upon Saravana Stores – the Shoppery! There was this 7-storeyed building on the Usman (?) Road that looked so imposing (and inviting) and we promptly trooped in. And boy….was it a Shopping Mall or what!!! It had almost everything under its roof. Of Course, it can’t have everything in it but close to 90% of a common man’s needs would be available within. Housed within its seven floors were clothes, groceries, toys, stationary, cosmetics, garments, readymades, hosiery, sarees, dress materials, food items, beverages, electronic goods, sports equipment, footwear, party accessories, imitation jewellery, watches, mobile phones, cd’s, music cassettes and whatnot! And all of those at really low prices. Most of the articles were sold at a good 30-40% below their MRP. It may not be as sophisticated or fashionable as the Centrals and the Lifestyles and Shoppers’ Stops but when it comes to value-for-money, nothing comes even close. I imagined how a bunch of shopping-hungry ladies would feel once they’re left free inside this behemoth and had a faint chuckle over that thought. If they excel at the prices and the variety, their biggest letdown is the customer service, which is pathetic to say the least. None of the more-than-a-hundred-staff-members were half as cordial and helpful as those in the other malls. Questions were often met with sharp retorts in Tamil and that too in an un-interested way. But I guess since the sales are so huge in spite of that, they’re choosing to neglect that aspect.
And it was so crowded that the lift (which for some obscure reason stopped at only the odd-numbered-floors) resembled a Mumbai Local train in peak traffic. The one time we did manage to squeeze in, I noticed the insignia read ‘Max 26 Persons’ but I counted 38 heads within the lift…and that does not include the six or seven kids crammed inside it! We roamed for close to two hours within the building and everyone bought something or the other….except me. I came back empty-handed but maybe made up for it with this post . So if the next time you’re in Chennai and are looking to pickup some cheap stuff and also kill some time while you’re at it, you can head over to Saravana Stores.
Image Courtesy: SkyScraperCity