Now a days Pop Corn is almost synonymous with a movie in a theatre, shopping at a multiplex or even may be a short weekend trip at the near by mall which offers a play area for kids. But for those who have been in the Pearl City – Hyderabad during the 80s and 90s, it is no exaggeration that POP corn is synonymous to their very own Numaish or Exhibition for those who are not aware of it. So much so that I still am confused if my addiction for Pop corn is because of Numaish or my love for Numaish is for the Pop Corn. I just hope I never ever figure this confusion out.
As millennials, we are now aware of super and mega sales on Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra and the likes which go on for 3 to 4 days during festival season or at times off season too on all kinds of goods. A little earlier it was the clearance sale at big stores that would excite people. But for me it has always been Numaish, the Baap (Father) of all Super and Mega sales that brings in the excitement. From clothes to shoes, from crockery to bed and bath, from gadgets to handicrafts, from play time to food, you name it and it is there.
It opens on the New Year’s day 1st of January and lasts till 15th of February (a good 46 days) every year. It originated 78 years ago and this year (2019) marks its 79th year. The All India Industrial Exhibition or popularly know as Numaish held at the Exhibition Grounds at Nampally, Hyderabad. I remember as a child, my mother used to take my sister and me to this heavenly place every year and all I ever did was trail along her to all the stalls and shops and take a whiff of the pop corn. And a little while of walking around and being less naughty would mean a whole pack of pop corn, just for me. And then the play rides – the Tora Tora, the roller coasters, the well of death (Mout ka Kua) where bikers would test their talent and fate and the very famous GIANT WHEEL. Most of the kids my age, not to forget, their parents too would get scared at the sight of the wheel. But would get on to it to may be show to others or to themselves how brave they are or just because they would rather not leave their kids with strangers on the wheel. And I used to get on to the wheel only to watch how people react to when the wheel moves up and down. Might sound scary, spooky and a little sadistic, but that’s me.
After I grew a little older, it became more than just pop corn and giant wheel. At times it was a chance to hang out with friends or just a pleasure trip where we get to window shop the world (we have always felt it that way). Also, the umpteen trips to this place all through these years have helped me in improving my skills – bargaining, negotiating, convincing, decision making and last but not the least interacting with strangers. It is an all together different feeling when you walk out of the store with that thing in your hand at the price you quoted. Elation. Ecstasy. Euphoria. If you have ever tried your hand at bargaining, you will definitely agree with me on that. And it doesn’t matter if you actually need the thing or not, as long as you are getting it at a price quoted by you. Naive, you would say. I know. But that is the beauty of the place which one has to experience by oneself.
The most charming thing about this place is that people from all over the nation come here to sell their stuff and to showcase their talent. There are stalls that showcase Kashmiri carpets and shawls, Rajasthani dupattas, Bengali sarees and the Lucknowi Chikan work apparels, Kolhapuri chappal (slippers), Pawadi & Kutch chappal, Nawaabi chappal, Jaipuri chappal, crockery in melamine and glass, artefacts made out of wood, cane, jute and cloth, handlooms from Pochampally, Ikkat, Patola and Bandini, fashion jewellery from all over the nation, home appliances, industrial items, real estate jigs, models of Government projects, local tourist attractions, food stalls that cover a wide range of dishes like Dosa, Dhokla, Chaat, Chole Bhature, Manchurian, Biryani and Haleem (PISTA HOUSE). There is a stall that displays the Forest view of our state – Telangana, a stall that showcases the items made by prison inmates, a stall that depicts the works taken up by DWCRA (Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas).
Spread across 23 Acres of land providing access to approximately 3000 stalls, this exhibition is without doubt one of the finest and largest in the world. With the advent of technology, it has become very easy for anyone with a smart phone to order a piece manufactured not just in our nation, but anywhere in this world with just a simple click. Hassle free. But if you want to feel the forte of the region and get to know a little about it from the manufacturers themselves, then you should definitely pay a visit to the Numaish. It is filled with crowd always, at least in all these years of my visit, I have rarely witnessed this place with minimal crowd. This place can support a floating crowd of about 20 lakh people on each day. Enormous. Gigantic. Mammoth. ‘Crowd’ would just be an under statement. Getting lost in the crowd is the most common thing that can happen if not cautious. Though I have been going back to this place year on year for the past 20 years, I can never say that I have seen it completely. There have been times that I felt that I am just moving in a circle ending up at the same point where I started, which is a visual illusion (though not optical). It would take any sane person at least 24 hrs to see all the stalls put up here, whereas it is open only for 7 – 8 hrs every day. Irony.
It is not just about the variety platter that is being offered which matters, but the fact that the spirit of the manufactures and stall bearers keeps going up year by year. All through these years they must have seen many highs and lows and withstood many obstacles. One such thing was the cash crunch which hit 2 years back in 2017 due to the demonetisation. To everyone’s surprise, it did not falter their spirit but on the other hand, raised it by making them get a step closer to technology and digitisation. It definitely takes courage to come to a place away from home for 45 days and make it feel like home for lakhs of people who come there. There have been few who have been taking part in this exhibition through generations too. But as I said earlier, it has always been synonymous to the whiff of fresh pop corn for me. Such a welcome whiff, that can mesmerise you so much so that even a certified lethargic like me can walk around for 3 hours at a stretch without a halt. At times when I feel that I am lost in the crowd, I stop, close my eyes and have a deep whiff of the pop corn and viola!!!! I am lost no more. I know exactly where I am and where I have to go.
Pop corn there is now being offered in various flavours – Chocolate, Caramel, Cheese, Schezwan, Tomato, Butter, Plain salted and Masala. My all time favourite being the ‘Masala pop corn’ with which I survive through my bargaining stints, window shopping and not to forget the long walk across the ground. If you are a local here you would know that too. If you are visiting Hyderabad during Jan – Feb, make sure you don’t miss this experience. The feeling of discovering oneself amidst a crowd. The feeling of bearing the torch to those who follow you into a stall unknowingly and get benefitted by your bargaining skills. The feeling of having had the best food ever with strangers around. The feeling of being an ace at deciding on what to shop and what not to (which by the way has rarely any connection whatsoever with the utility of the item). The feeling of taking away very little out of this huge shopper’s paradise. The feeling of having been a part of a walk marathon and mostly watch others shop around. The feeling of being there and having done that. Our visit to this place would always end on a sweet note – the sugar candy which we would carry back home as a prized possession and then compete on who finishes it the last. Crazy!!! Not really.
Place – Numaish, Exhibition Grounds
Location – Nampally. With the Metro now, it has become easier to commute. Just get down at the Gandhi Bhavan stop and walk straight into the Exhibition grounds.
Duration – 1st January 2019 to 15th February 2019
Timings – 3:00 pm to 10:30 pm on Week days & 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm on Weekends
Entry Fees – For Adults (anyone above 5 yrs of age) Rs. 30/- per head. Senior citizens, children below 5 yrs, persons with physical disabilities are exempted of the entry fee.
Eateries – Outside food is strictly not allowed except if it is for kids below 5 yrs. There are many food and juice joints within every 2 kms of distance inside.
Lessons from my NUMAISH visit:
- Have a list of things you need to shop for but don’t be surprised if you end up getting more, in fact things which you might realise later you don’t need at all.
- Most of the stalls are equipped with PoS machines, but it is better to have some cash in handy for smaller purchases.
- Make sure to carry your own water bottles if it is not a burden. Might help in lessening the litter around.
- Do make use of the litter bins put across. They are not for show off, they have been put there for a reason.
- Take care of your belongings (mobiles and wallets) especially if you are visiting with kids. Beware of pickpockets.
- There are places for radio announcements and police patrolling stops after every 2 – 3 kms. Do not hesitate to make use of them if need be.
- They have also provided for toilets after every 5 kms. There are a few with kids care section and for the disabled too.
- If you are into a little fun, do try out the train ride which takes you around the whole ground from middle of the road with the crowd staring at you.
- Bring back as many memories as possible some in the form of purchases, some in the form of stories to tell your kids and their kids. Make the most of your visit.