Usually any location that goes by the name 'daaru mall' will be off limits for women, especially in Delhi. But Star City Mall in East Delhi, right next to DLF The Galleria, is being discovered by more and more women, thanks to one liquor store that stands out from its competitors. Glass walls, fancy interiors and a comfortable-looking sofa aside, there is a large pink strip on the outside that reads “Exclusive section only for ladies". Yes, this is a different take on a 'theka' (as a liquor store in Delhi is known), of which there are at least a dozen spread over these two malls in Mayur Vihar.
On the ground floor of the Star City mall, next to Pizza Hut, it's unmissable as one enters the mall. Opened in October this year, the store is slowly being noticed by women who are looking to buy alcohol without being groped, sexually intimidated, shoved around or be stared at by men. “Girls can be intimidated at most liquor stores because guys try to letch or just look at you in a weird way," says a 29-year-old media executive who heard about the shop from a friend a month ago and is now a frequent visitor, preferring not to be named. “I do prefer going to (the ladies-only store) because it's not crowded at all and you can look around." Though men are not allowed in the women's-only section, they can head to an adjoining section of the same shop, which is open for all.
Despite being marketed as women-only, couples make up the bulk of its customer base. Store manager Umesh Chandra Saxena says that's because “not a lot of people know about the concept". Enhancing its women-friendly image are female security guards and a 28-year-old sales representative Beena Sharma, who feels more comfortable knowing she only has to interact with women. “Lots of women come here looking for vodka, wine and champagne. Some buy whiskey as well. Sometimes if they come with male companions they buy beer too. But girls generally prefer tequila," she says, adding “tequila shot" with a wide grin on her face.