Urban villages fill the gaps precisely because they aren’t zoned! Amid pots and basins in Sikanderpur – May 4, 2012

A few days ago, mum and me did the the rounds of Sikanderpur, an urban village in Gurgaon that has a concentration of building material stores, especially hardware, electricals, lighting and all sorts of other knick knacks. In the NCR, urban villages are the default location for all things messy. Except for the few villages like Hauz Khas and Shahpur Jat and perhaps parts Khirki and Lado Sarai, that have become gentrified and accommodate eclectic tastes in art and food, many urban villages consist of a winding maze of streets crowded with miscellaneous goods that service the zoned, usually higher income, residential and commercial areas in the vicinity. Often, some of these markets, like Sikanderpur in Gurgaon and Kotla Mubarakpur in Delhi, specialize in certain types of goods and serve a larger urban area.

Planned development in Indian cities has not been able to accommodate many essential components. I write often about planned development not catering to low-income housing, but I observe that small retailers too are being pushed out of high-income areas where shop rents are unaffordable for them. Urban villages or illegally using residential property for shops are viable options for them, especially if they sell something as unglamorous as pipes and wires!

In Sikanderpur, we realized the posh bath accessory stores did not exist. They were located in DLF Phase I and similar colonies where moneyed people went. These swank stores displayed foreign brands like Grohe and American Standard, while it was the back alley in Sikanderpur that finally satisfied my search for a Hindware dealer!

We had a good time choosing pots and washbasins and kitchen sinks, as you can see from the pics below!

Mom in pot heaven!

The vibrant market thrives even as the Metro soars up above: Kind of parodies India’s paradoxical, interesting development and growth, doesn’t it?

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