Mob mentality in Madras

Pardon me for a really pathetic title that besides alliterating on M, is a bad pun for the rest of the post. Which leads me just perfectly into the post.

If you get around in the city, you probably would have seen this enough times. Streets devoted to one trade, mindless aping of trends, similar looking signages and more.
For instance, in the north of the city, in the famed Georgetwon area, streets after streets are filled with different businesses providing essentially the same goods. Anderson Street is devoted to stationery, Rasappa Chetty street sells hardware, Nainiappa Naicker street deals with perfumes & chemical supplies. When I say streets, I mean a whole street, filled with tiny shops that have space to seat only two people, doing business and closing deals.
Take Gen. Patters Road. The entire stretch of the road is filled with shops dealing in Auto parts.

This grouping works in two ways – Prices are standardised across shops, and to a certain extent cheaper, because of the competition. You know exactly where to go to, when you need to buy something. Though, as the city grew, some of these shops and trades moved out of their homes in North Chennai.

A current trend in the Chennai shopping sector is the mushrooming “Singapore” shopping complex-es. You probably would have seen five already, especially if you live somewhere towards the west of the city.
These shops are pretty much identical – they have names like “Singapore Shoppe”, “Shopping Singapore”, “Singapore Plaza”, “Singapore Customs Shop”; blue neon signages on white tiles, and one or two floors of customs-notified goods that are laid out rather uninterestingly.

A Singapore shoppe is where you will get little fancy gadgets, stationery, “foreign scents”, wallets and pirated audio CDs. What’s cool about these shops are that they are no fuss, no frills place that turn an indolent eye to piracy, fake goods and other such legal stuff.

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