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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Winter Remedy

December 19, 2007

The Indian Rxpress
Sunday, December 16, 2007

The photograph of Dalai Lama stands tall, gently looking over the
Tibetan woolen clothes' sale here at Ravindralaya lawns. This photograph
is placed strategically in an entire stall devoted to him. Every winter
season, between November and February, Tibetan refugees from all across
the country come to Lucknow to sell quality woolens at subsidised rates.
There are about forty-five stalls packed with sweaters, jackets,
mufflers, caps and shawls, straight from factories of Ludhiana and
Simla, among other places. Clothes displayed here are not entirely
factory-made as a few stalls exhibit hand-knitted woolens as well.

In words of a local buyer, Amit Srivastava, “Woolens sold here or in
main markets of Aminabad and Hazratganj are similar in terms of style
and variety. But here, one can be sure that only fresh stock is sold
every year, unlike in bigger shops, where even old clothes get displayed
like new ones. So a buyer tends to get duped in bigger markets.” Says
another buyer R Ayash, “The quality of clothes is much better here than
in other woolen stores but I wish they would still sell saris, like they
used to till some years ago.”

If one is to go by sheer number of people thronging this place, every
stall has at least 5-6 customers at most times of the day. Says Tenzin,
a Tibetan refugee selling woolens here since last thirty five years, “I
am happy as sales have picked up now as compared with last few years.
Uttar Pradesh is getting colder and people need to buy more quality
woolens.” "I am glad most of them are coming here," he gleefully adds.
Full sleeved sweaters at most stalls are priced anywhere between Rs 140
to Rs 700 while caps and mufflers cost anything starting from a measly
Rs 50. For good quality woolens priced so reasonably, it is not
surprising that Tibetan market is attracting hoards of people. Right
from the middle class buyer, who wants just a few sweaters in basic
colours that would last him an entire season, to hip youngsters, who
just want to grab a couple of chic jackets to enhance their wardrobe.

“What I like best about this place is the reasonable cost for woolens
one can't afford to buy from a Monte Carlo showroom close by,” remarked
Deepti, a regular buyer. Another customer, Archana, begs to differ.
“Clothes are costlier here this time than they were last year,” she
laments. There are few more buyers who seem to agree with Archana. But
stall owners have their side of the story. One of them, Yangdon, a
single 30-year-old woman says, "We have to pay rent for availing
Ravindralaya lawns, which rich people book for weddings otherwise, so we
must make up for that money. Besides that, we have to pay for boarding
and lodging, for as long as we are selling clothes here. Also, for rest
of the year, our family depends on earnings from this sale. That
justifies the cost we charge, which is minimal anyway."

Tibetan Union President Sonam, enthused by first-rate sales this time,
vouches for the superiority of woolens they bring here annually. "We
have good winter clothes for everyone. If you buy clothes from us, I
assure you they will warm you not just for this winter but for many more
seasons to come."
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