For most of the day, bargain-hunters are confronted by rows of locked shops in Fancy Bazar. This nearly 200-year-old market was home to many bargain-hunters. It is the largest city in India’s remote northeast and offered low prices until the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although April’s lockdown restrictions have been partially lifted, shop owners complain that the 1 p.m. curfew makes it too early.
To escape the heat of summer, shoppers prefer to shop in the evenings. There is no business at the market’s thousands of small and large shops in the afternoon.
My shop is only open for a limited time, so it’s difficult for us. Bhaskar Jyotikalita, who sells Assam Silk, said that sometimes, he doesn’t have one customer.
Kalita, 43 years old, stated that he must support his parents, wife, and two children. He said, “It’s very difficult for our family without any sales.”
Fancy Bazar was founded by a trader who came from western Rajasthan after he had sailed to Assam in 1828.
There are many shops that sell exotic silk fabrics, handcrafted toys, bamboo products, and cane- and bamboo products. This is also a wholesale marketplace for rice, lentils and fruits, vegetables, flowers as well as medicines.
Gauhati, Assam’s capital city, is India’s main trading hub for the eight northeastern states. It has a population of 45 millions.
Rupam Gosawmi (chairman of the Assam State Chamber of Commerce) said that although business has been severely affected by the pandemic restrictions in Assam, the priority is to save people’s lives. He said that the infection rate is decreasing and that he expects a further relaxation of restrictions by mid July.