Where Have All the Sabziwalas in Chandigarh Gone?

Aloo, tamatar, gobi, gajar, matar lelo…

Chandigarh early risers might not have rooster’s morning crowing to wake them up, but for late risers (like my dear buddies) this lavish sabzi menu used to be a wake up alarm, not to forget a real irritating one for sleeplovers!

However, now we all wonder where have all the sabziwalas gone?

No wonder, the city streets are missing these thellas. These thellas were not just selling vegetables but they meant more than that… a feeling of personal contact which is the ultra modern globalised world is losing. 

But, the question where have they all gone remains unanswered? The oblivion, definitely not!

And, when does a poor man’s voice get heard? That’s the feeling among these sabziwalas. They seem to be at the receiving end. 

I do miss these sabziwalas for more than one reason and that made me to investigate deep into the reasons of their disappearance.

Are people flocking to the Apni Mandis?




The answer is: A definite Yes!

Recently, MC has brought about few changes. Every sector in Chandigarh, even Mohali and Panchkula, has its own Sabzi Mandi. This is definitely one of the reasons for the disappearance of these thellas.

Nowadays, the buyer of the house believes in picking up bags and going to the nearest Sabzi Mandi and doing some tol bhaav with the sabziwalas there and choose the best from many options all at one place. From consumers’ point of view, a win- win situation, however what about the sabziwala thella?

Don’t the sabziwalas have a chance?


Just like the autorickshawalas stand no chance against Ola and Uber; and the nukar wala grocery store is losing out to supermarkets, these sabziwalas seem to be no competition to Apni Mandis and air-conditioned veggies superstores.

Let’s dig deeper and take a look at Apni Mandis vis-a-vis the Sabziwalas and see how the consumer is benefited at these mandis.


  • Well, it’s just convenient to buy vegetables for the whole week then waiting for a thella everyday. And, it makes more sense too, does’t it?
  • And, the stock for the week definitely comes at cheaper rates in these Apni Mandis.
  • The consumer feels that the produce at these Mandis is also fresher and more in quantity than at thellas.
  • Further, more variety of fruits and vegetables is available in Mandis.
  • The produce is no doubt from local areas.
  • And, there is more competition which is better for the customer.

But, are consumers making the right decision?


A chat with few sabziwalas will help put things in perspective for us.

Let’s look at the other side of the coin.


  • The Sabziwalas argue that they sell the stuff at consumer’s doorstep.
  • And, where do they get them from? From the Apni Mandis only!
  • Agreed, the mandis sell the goods at cheaper rates but don’t they arrive at convenient times like in morning before starting the day or in evening right before preparing dinner. Yes, the surely do.
  • But, what about the money they charge you extra? Oh! they work hard and push the thella full of produce for few kilometers. So, they certainly deserve a pat on the back.
  • Moreover, they opine that the consumer saves on 2 or 3 hours on weekly basis. After toiling for the whole day, no one looks forward to dragging oneself to the Apni Mandis. And, doesn’t saving time mean saving money only? Yes, of course it means the same.
  • The poor folk also give the Dhania, Hari Mirchi and of course the carry bag for free, don’t they? Aren’t they justified at taking a dig at Reliance for charging  for the bag ? They are!
  • It’s just way more personal, the consumer develops a friendship with them for sure. And, they get to chat with others in the locality and stay updated with all the local news!

What else makes these Sabziwalas better?


Distance to travel and hygiene issues at Apni Mandis!

And one more thing, the sellers at Apni Mandis can form a cartel among themselves and decide not to sell the produce at competitive prices.

So, did one benefit at the end? No. Nobody!

And, does the consumer think about the travel one needs to do back and forth for long distance with one’s bag full of purchase?

So, someone who doesn’t own a vehicle has no option but to walk with the heavy bags.

But, where do the Sabziwalas have a fallout?


Higher price and doubts on freshness of fruits and veggies!

Recently, they were selling cauliflower at Rs 25 a kilo while the same was available at Mandis for Rs 9 a kilo.

Aren’t they just duping people?

Seems like they are!

And, the stock of vegetables and fruits at these thellas is not fresh. Also, the stock doesn’t sell quickly and they keep sprinkling water on it to keep it fresh. This is definitely a big put off for the customer.


The debate is definitely never ending.

It just boils down to comfort and economical. As a consumer on these parameters, sabziwalas thelas are definitely losing the battle. 

Still, my heart goes out to the beautiful tradition of buying vegetables and fruits from our very own Rehriwala Bhaiya. 

My callout to my own local Sabziwalas that drop the prices to be more competitive and no one can beat your door to door service. We definitely miss that morning honking and evening chit chats around your thela.

Ah! I am surely missing that feeling of being connected, aren’t you?