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One common feature between all of India’s metropolitan cities, towns, and trying-to-be-cool “smart cities” is that they all have what is considered to be the sign of PROGRESS- a Mall.
The Cliché of Cool
Indian kids who grew up on America teenage sitcoms began to think that hanging out at a mall was the height of cool. I used to be that way, too. In middle and high school, birthday parties were a much-anticipated visit to the KFC or McDonald’s at a nearby mall with “the gang.”
Now, thinking about it makes me cringe.
The Convenience Aspect
Yes, malls do have their uses- they have everything under one roof, be it shops, food joints, cinema theatres… Going to a mall to get all your shopping done in one building does make the life of a shopper significantly easier. They also provide loads of employment to people from lower income brackets, as sales people, cashiers, and janitors.
More of a Status Symbol
However, what I don’t like is that shopping at a mall has come to be seen as something “cool” to do, a kind of status symbol.
I personally don’t see what’s so great about riding aimlessly through the floors on strategically-placed escalators, clicking selfies against the shop facade of H&M and Zara (and other places where you don’t ACTUALLY buy anything), and ending the trip with a carcinogen-doused meal from a foreign multinational.
What happened to shopping for the LOVE of it? As someone who is quite fond of shopping, it gives me so much more satisfaction to visit a standalone shop dedicated to a particular product, or a bazaar, where I have millions of products at cheaper prices to choose from.
The Indian Shopping Experience
It’s also my opinion that the Indian shopping experience is killed by malls. Seeing brightly coloured fabrics, heavy silver and brass jewellery, and embroidered footwear hanging outside the stall in rows is a delight in itself, as opposed to the monotonous and mind-numbing appearance of the swanky shops in a mall.
I believe shopping is a combination of both the experience as well as the things you buy. The culture of a place comes out in its bazaars and individual shops, and as a tourist, I would get bored out of my mind to go to a new place just to visit a mall and see the same shops that exist even in the malls back home.
As someone who finds anything that apes the west irritating, I feel that malls are just another facet of modernisation that offers convenience, but also train the shopper to turn into a clone of other mall-goers throughout the world.
Image Credits: Google Images