Whatever the excuse (a transportation glitch, meeting that gets over early, hunger pangs), finding yourself in a shopping mall on a working day with all the shops pretty much to yourself (and kids not around!) can be a fun experience! In my case, I’m not adept at shopping alone and I’m certainly no fashionsita, but window shopping I enjoy a lot! And people watching too!
I did end up buying footwear though, since clothes were out of bounds (on a diet, can’t buy clothes till I reach my target weight!). Here are some pictures I took using my iphone.
Someone I met in Pune commented in a derogatory tone about Gurgaon’s mall culture. I remember when we first moved to Gurgaon in 2004 or so, all of Delhi, especially West Delhi descended on the MG Road malls every weekend in a senseless parade of flashily dressed giggly wide eyed consumers.
Now malls have mushroomed in several parts of the National Capital Region and it’s no longer such a big deal to hang out at one any more.
Our rather impromptu jaunt this evening was to the set of malls in Vasant Kunj. I distinctly recollect the clash between environmental activists and the government when this stretch of land was proposed to be developed back in the ’90s. The land was a part of the Delhi Ridge that is a significant stretch of the ancient Aravalli range and a designated green belt in the city’s master plan. The move was opposed and the government was accused of profiteering at the expense of biodiversity and the future health of the citizens. I remember Arundhati Roy talking to us students at SPA at the time. As an alumnus of our college and a firebrand, attractive lady, she made quite an impression!
Today, we played arcade games with our kids, window shopped and ate at the malls built on that controversial piece of land. Life goes on, people forget, commerce and profit takes precedence over every other consideration and even us aware and responsible citizens must accept the changing nature of cities and the price we pay for development!
All that said, little Myrah’s birthday (she is one if Aadyaas closest friends) was well spent in simple pleasures and genuinely enjoyable conversations!
As I watched the superbly skilled Vidya Balan in ‘Kahaani’ tonight (film highly recommended), I could not stop admiring the way Sujoy Ghosh has romanced Kolkata in the film. Portrayed in a suitably old world tint, every frame captured the worst of Kolkata and converted it into an endearing visual. Poverty, entangled wires, hand riksha pullers, the jerky motion of the tram, the roadside tea stalls, the winding alleys, the decaying buildings, the traffic and ceaseless mass of humanity. Faces creased with worry, faces that smiled, faces that wore indescribably expressions. I wanted to go there immediately and lose myself in this great city, all by myself, with a sketchpad and camera. Kolkata has been hitting me for the past few months through books, articles and visits by friends and family; it’s beckoning for sure!
Mind still filled with images of lovely Kolkata, what a shock it was for us to step out of the exit into a stairwell that had a ceiling not even 6 feet high! As we walked down the exit stairs, we were met with the most extraordinary amount of filth and litter. One landing had rotting vegetables, presumably supplies that the banquet hall on that floor hadn’t consumed for the wedding dinner they were hosting. Another landing had piles of rubbish. Another had spit stains, yet another had used, discarded plates with wasted food spilling out, another had mattresses piled in it! The stairway was barely lit (anyone could have slipped and fallen), the exits back into the mall were locked, so no one could leave the smelly stairwell even if they wanted to.
Nearing the end of this horrendous journey, I started to take pictures; believe me, these tell only a small bit of the tale (i was unable to go against the flow of traffic to capture the real gems!). Perhaps the romantic street scenes of Kolkata, when met in the flesh, may not seem so beautiful, I realized, as I filled with rage at the irresponsibility of SRS Cinema and Omaxe (this was in the Omaxe Celebration Mall on Sohna Road, Gurgaon). How could they let an entire movie hall full of audiences, who paid hard earned money for tickets to be subjected to such a humiliating experience. The least I could do was document this and here are the pictures to tell the story.