A few days ago, I decided to park in the basement of a new, large mall in Gurgaon. When I say new, I guess it must be a year old. We give retail spaces a long birthing period here in Gurgaon now. Earlier, no sooner than a mall opened, shops would mushroom inside and it would become the latest hip destination for people from within and outside the city to hang out in, mostly without purpose!
So this ‘new’ mall, which is called MGF Mega City Mall and has Lifestyle as its anchor tenant along with SPAR Hypermarkets, looks like this…..
Here on Sohna Road, where I live, they continue to build retail space. A short stretch of about 3 kms now has 4 malls, only one of them with any decent level of occupancy. Its a depressing situation and I avoid going to malls like the plague (except to watch movies, because there is nowhere else to watch them!)!
Last Friday, a few of us families took our kids to the set of malls at Vasant Kunj. We did the very mall-y things like rides in the kiddie amusement center, spent time at the play area, walk around aimlessly, eat, check out the loos! I have to admit it was fun, mostly because of the company and because the malls had open shops in them, and people! Duh!
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!