Mother China

Published Aug 11, 2015 06:02pm

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Women buy jewellery from a Chinese vendor in Rawalpindi’s Raja Bazaar | Tanveer Shehzad, White Star
Women buy jewellery from a Chinese vendor in Rawalpindi’s Raja Bazaar | Tanveer Shehzad, White Star
It is quite late in the night but Rawalpindi’s China Market is still swarming with customers. An array of shops in narrow alleys selling imported Chinese goods next to the bustling Raja Bazaar, the market is stuffed with all kinds of merchandise, leaving little space for the tired customers to move around. “Be careful; you may break the vase. It is expensive,” a salesman in a crockery shop warns a little girl trying to feel the smooth surface of a vessel on display.

At another shop, a woman is haggling over the price of what looks like a Versace handbag. She knows it is a copy – a good one though – and wants the shopkeeper to give her a hefty discount on it. “You are demanding a lot of money for a copy,” she politely reproaches the man at the counter who reminds her that it is a “first” copy and not just an “ordinary” bag. But then he agrees to give her a handsome discount.

Able to buy the copies of branded luxury goods, which look as good as originals, and at prices that are within the shopping budgets of most middle-class households across Pakistan, customers in the country have much to thank traders in China Market for. “The best thing about these goods is that our middle-class people can now afford to live in style,” says Noshad Sheikh who runs a shop at China Market. “[Shopkeepers selling these goods have] brought international brands within the reach of local customers who, otherwise, would see those brands only in movies and on television shows,” he says. “Of course, I am talking about copies and not the original products,” he adds with a smile.


This is an excerpt from the Herald August 2015 cover story, to read the complete story in print subscribe to Herald.