It is a well-documented fact that Khan Market is amongst the most expensive places to rent real estate for retail in the world. Going by what I've seen over the intermittent visits to the place over the last couple of years, I can add two other metrics in which Khan Market probably tops the rest of the country - the maximum number of hep aunties per square foot of retail space and the maximum number of stores selling overpriced bric-a-brac within a single complex (in fact, the density of hep aunties peaks in the bric-a-brac stores, so one might even be able to construct some sort of combined metric based on that). South Mumbai might come close in terms of absolute numbers, but Khan tops in density. It's almost impossible to walk around the place without seeing at least one woman somewhere between the ages of 30 and 45 in oversize shades, heels and tight jeans on her way into or out of a shop with scented candles in the display window.
Of course, this was not always the case. Many years ago, back in the mid-90's when liberalization was still in its first flush, we used to live in a government officers' colony a few kilometers down the road from Khan Market (more on that in a later post, hopefully). Back then it was a quiet, little market, with a sprinkling of bookshops- Bahri Sons, Faqir Chand etc - some random sari shops, a bunch of grocery stores and a couple of bakeries and small restaurants. A treat would involve eating Chinese food at China Fare or picking up pastries from Pat-a-Cake. Most of the crowd there would be other civil servants and their families, occasionally punctuated by the odd expat or two coming around to pick up meat and breakfast cereals and stuff and, for the lower rung expats, a cheap haircut at the saloon in the inside corner. By the early 2000's, when I was in college, the boom had just started in Khan market, with international franchises setting up shop and the civil service crowd replaced by what seemed like people who had turned up because they couldn't find parking at the M-Block market in GK.
And now it's come to this - hep aunties all over, more faux continental cafe/bistros than you can spend a moderate monthly salary in, and kids who look like they went to sleep with wet gel in their hair so the just-out-of-bed look has additional hold. I suppose it could be worse, though. They could have torn down the whole place and turned it into a mall.