Roaming in the main market in Leh, the capital of Ladakh we spotted this curious signboard on the shop selling souvenirs. We were quite amused and decided to take a photograph. I have not figured out till date what ‘Useless Wali,’ and that too Regd, means. The curious thing was, we saw the same sign ‘Useless Wali’ on another shop too. Maybe ‘Wali’ means ‘road’ in Ladakhi? I am not sure. Even if, ‘Wali’ means road, why Useless? I wonder if anyone who has been to Ladakh has a better clue.
I have a few other such photographs and will post them here later. I somehow feel such signs rather than being odd, added to the charm and mystique of the place.
21 thoughts on “Useless Wali: Now What Was That?”
That’s a funny picture! And the message is a mystery to me.
Hi Mridula! I think maybe useless wali might refer to odds and ends or touristy type stuff. Does that make sense? It’s stuff that isn’t essential.Jan
Maybe Jan is right Mo. Wali is a Hindi word and it seems to go with the interpretation that ‘come for useless things, trinkets.’ How could you come up with it Jan?
Wali is not a Hindi word. It’s a Muslim name. Probably Shia.
Yes, it is a big maybe Avik, if it is a lane why uselss? Interesting, isn’t it?
The shop sells stuff which is useless to the locals. The merchandise consists of cotton Kurtis which have been purchased from Sarojini Nagar market in Delhi, and some outlandishly priced woolen items sourced from Kulu in HP. Those Kurtis can never, never be worn in Leh, not even in the warmest season.
Useless is FUNNY though!!! Most people wouldn’t consider souvineers or trinkets “Useless” because that word makes it sound like you wouldn’t want to have it. Maybe frivolous would be a better word? Or just souvineers! LOL!
there is needless alley where i am from. a useless seller seems very apt.
Mo I agree,on second thoughts why useless? Needless alley! wow Ladakh has some competition. Free Spirit, try searching google ‘Useless Wali’ and you will find there are others who are as clueless as us.And thank you all of you for stopping by.
In commercial English “Regd.” is just an abbreviation of ‘Registered’ as with a Company name or a product name.Sometimes written as R with a circle around it.
Hey Gordon I know Regd. is abbrevation but it looks all the more funny in connection with Useless Wali? Getting something useless registered! That is what I thought was funny. Thanks for stopping by. If you write on the web why not leave a link?
I first saw this shop in 1991, when I got posted to this sector as a Captain. It appeared to be a fairly old joint even in 1991. Perhaps it was mandatory to get firms “Registered” in those days of Licence Raj. It may come as a surprise to you, but in the 60s and 70s even bicycles were registered, and had to display a brass token as a proof of that. All radio sets including transistors had to be registered with the local post office and have a license as proof thereof.
I am clueless too. I should check with *A*’s bro though, he is stationed in Ladadkh. He might be able to find out. Is it any place near Leh? Cos that is where he is.
Sanjay, this shop is in the main market, Leh. If you have time do check it out that would be fun! And if you search ‘useless wali’ on Google, you will find the term has caught attention of other travellers too.
nice blog. must see gohoto.in
My wife and I visited Useless Wali in 1985, and bought a magnificent partial silk carpet from him, after negotiating for five hours. Wali is the guy’s name. Useless is just the way he gets your attention. Regd is British commercial practice to indicate his name is copyrighted, or some such legal protection. It is probably just an affectation in Ladakh. I liked the guy. He gave me a fair price inasmuch as I had to waste his time for five hours to get it, so he wanted me out of the shop. The carpet is still hanging on my wall.
Thank you so much for sharing this story, it made my day! Do you have pictures from that trip? It would be interesting to see how Ladakh looked in 1985!
I bought a nice carpet from Useless Wali in 1985. It is still on my wall.
Thank you for sharing your tale. Some comments go in moderation on my blog, so it took a while to look at the queue. But I am so glad you shared your story. It made my day.
This shop caters mainly to foreign tourists who are looking for a memento to take home. As an Indian, I found it frightfully expensive. It is owned by a person from Kargil.
I have passed in front of this shop several times during 1991-93. Walking up the road from the Army transit camp to Leh market and back was a part of our acclimatisation schedule. It is really intriguing why it has been named Useless Wali.
Another thing which catches attention is the monstrous sized turnips and radishes being sold on the sidewalks of the market. These giant vegetables are supposed to have been grown in the local FRL, ie Forest Research Laboratory.