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Home > Discover Mumbai > Sight Seeing > Mumbai > Christmas Spirit

   Catch Mumbai's Christmas spirit on Bandra's Hill Road  

The crib at the Art Gallery . Price Rs 3,500Christmas is a state of mind. It can make even the hot, polluted metropolis of Mumbai bask in romance, ring in the festive spirit, and send one and all on a shopping spree. Come to Hill Road at Bandra to relive the Christmas season year after year. From red Ponsettias to cuddly Santa teddies, real Christmas trees to fibre optic ones, red nosed reindeer to shiny angels, silver bells to sleighs and even Santa Claus costumes - Bandra's Hill Road has them all.

A beautiful Christmas  tree The Archies Gallery at Bandra is all dressed up for the occasion. Teddy bears dressed as Santas, Raccoons peeking out of Christmas socks, and stuffed Santas of every conceivable variety greet you at the entrance. It's hard to resist temptation at this point, because even the prices do not put you off. You could take home a stuffed Santa for Rs 60/- or Rs 500/-, depending on how hard you want to tug at your purse strings. Or even better, pick up a cuddly Santa bear for Rs 100/-. "Our products are only about 5 to 10 per cent higher than the unbranded ones available on the roadside," says Raju Deora, proprietor, Archies Gallery. Deora added that Christmas sales had been increasing by 10 to 15 per cent over the last three years. Archies at Hill Road normally sell between 4000 to 6000 Christmas cards each year.

Santa Claus at Wax HouseAmong the more popular Christmas music albums that Archies stacks are 'Superstar Xmas' (tape cost - Rs 125), released by Sony, featuring world famous artistes such as Backstreet Boys, Tony Bennet, Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey and Frank Sinatra. The traditional Jim Reeves Christmas album is among the all-time favourites. Archies also has its own release, 'Magic of X'mas' (tape - Rs 50, CD - Rs 225), featuring Indian artistes. Archies Music generally releases 4 to 5 CDs every Christmas. While Mumbai retailers cannot boast of as high revenues during the season as in America, where 70 per cent of retail sales happen during this holiday season, retailers in Bandra still find at least a 15 to 20 per cent increase in sales during the X'mas season.

Santas on display at Archies Gallery"Last year there was such a hype created about 2000 being the Millennium year, hence sales were great," says Smita Dhanuka, who has been selling Christmas decorations since 1972 at Wax House. Christmas trees and decorations at Wax House cost from Re 1 to Rs 500. Smaller Santa Claus caps sell at Rs 25 each, while the larger ones cost between Rs 50 and Rs 100. Christmas trees cost from Rs 25 (artificial) to Rs 5000 for real ones. "Decorations that cost between Rs 10 and Rs 100 sell the best," says Dhanuka.

A very cuddly Santa Claus bear at Archies Gallery. For shoppers who still believe 'Pardesi' is the best, there's the Art Gallery in Bandra that sells Taiwanese decorations. If you want a good bargain, this is just the place for you. The smallest trees are 4 feet in height with large ones as tall as 10 feet, costing from Rs 900/- to Rs 2950/-. More exotic fibre optic trees are available for prices ranging from Rs 1300/- to Rs 6,000/-. Tree decorations in the form of angels, silver and gold bells, candies, coloured balls, golden trumpets and harps cost anywhere between Rs 45/- and Rs 200/-. Sales reach into the region of Rs 4 to Rs 5 lakhs.

This Christmas spirit sure is infectious.Maria Menezes' store is the place for most resonably priced handmade decorations. You can even watch the artists and craftsmen in action here. Maria, who has been in the business for the last 22 years, is confident that she will be able to sell out everything at the store before Christmas. Here the colourful thermocol decorations are priced between Rs 15/- and Rs 150/-.

So, now that you are done with most of your Christmas shopping, just let the season get to you and join the revellers. Remember, 'tis the season to be jolly!

By: Patrick Coelho & Anupama Vinayak
Photographer: Vinayak Prabhu

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