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One of my earliest childhood memories includes visiting the video cassette rental shop in the then green and shaded Rana Market. We would pay a mere seven rupees per movie and then happily amble over to a small ‘desi’ confectionery shop to buy sweets. In the 1980s, in addition to several small ‘mom and pop’ stores that served the daily grocery needs of the residents of Sector F-7, these were the main attractions of Rana Market.

Rana Market then and now… The Market was established in the 1970s and over the subsequent decades, the number of Rana Market’s ‘crowd pullers’ increased at a slow pace, and included Paul Dixon, a hair salon, and Siddiq Sweet House, a well known confectionery shop that began life as a tiny milk and yoghurt shop. It has now metamorphosed into one of Islamabad’s popular foodie outlets, boasting of desi treats including samosas, gulab jamuns, jalebis and gaajar ka halwa. Despite this, however, the Market could not compete with the popularity of Islamabad’s newer and snazzier commercial areas.

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Piping hot jalebis

Newer attractions… Recently, a clutch of new establishments have opened in the Market, contributing to its increased popularity. These range from retail spaces (such as Stone Age and Outfitters) to several shops that sell frames and wall art, as well as Crescent Art Gallery, Hardee’s and Depilex Spa.

Still a neighbourhood market… Rana Market continues to serve the daily needs of the people living nearby. In this regard, it has all the requisite services including general stores, fresh fruit stalls, frozen food outlets, butchers, pharmacies and hardware stores.

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Plenty of framers

Charming nonetheless… Rana Market has its own charm; although perhaps lacking the pizzazz of Islamabad’s more chic shopping areas such as Jinnah Super and Kohsar Market, it has some gems that keep the customers coming back. A testament to this is the fact that if you go there on a weekend you will be lucky if you are able to  find a parking spot easily.

In a nutshell… Rana Market is mix of old and new, older businesses and buildings standing adjacent to new ones. While spots like Hardee’s and Stone Age attract Islamabad’s younger customers,
old-timers frequent it for a healthy dose of nostalgia. n

rana map

– Fehmeen A Khan

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