If Swami and his friends were to meet up these days, quite likely it would be in a mall. At least if they were in a city like Bombay. (sorry, I don’t like Mumbai that much). This city has come a long way from the time people actually had to queque up and cough some money to just enter a mall- Crossroads, to a time when you can probably sniff a mall in every neighbourhood. InOrbit remains my favourite among them. I don't care much for the shops as much for the food court. Every visit ends with a good gastronomic experience.
Recently I visited Hyper City along with my folks and relatives. It’s not exactly a mall, more like a massive super market and I was blown by the size and spread. Luckily we happened to be there at a decent time. There wasn’t too much jostling and pushing involved and I could actually swing my arms a bit without knocking down anybody’s teeth. Though we landed there solely with the intention of sight seeing, my mom promptly pulled out one of the shopping carts and wove her way around professionally. And when you have a cart, you ought to drop in some ‘essentials’ right. So I dutifully offered to assist in that task. As we ambled along the food section, I was eyeing all those exotic veggies like broccoli, red cabbage, colourful pepper, and the lot. Thought it would be a good idea to trade in our usual potato and baingan with some of that. Though I was toying with idea of picking up something for our cart I knew it would land right back on the racks thanks to my mom. She has a clear mandate for me: decide on a recipe that calls for these ingredients and make it yourself. And knowing very well that it would take a lot more than broccoli to get me into the kitchen, I gave it a miss, rather wistfully.
Not one to give up easily, I headed next to the bakery section. Now this is another favourite. Rows of freshly baked bread, neatly lined along the shelves beckoned to me. So I spent a good 4 minutes deciding on the type of bread and another good 4 minutes measuring the biggest one available for the same price. To the unsuspecting eye I must have looked quite the bread connoisseur. But greed is not always good and so I learnt later that day. Or rather all our jaws did. I had picked a type of bread that was not particularly meant to be soft. The combined chomping of five jaws, trying to push it down our throats would have put any local cow to shame.
Now any of my girl pals would validate the rules of a purposeful event like shopping. It entails that for all the time spent eyeing the goods, you need to spend some amount of time eying your co-shoppers. The stress here being on the female shopper’s attire and looks. And by the rules of the game, the eyer will also end up being the eye-ee. (Ipshi, no points for guessing where these terms came from). And though I don’t personally offer much eye-ee value considering my dressing style is oh-so-standard, I did apparently catch the fancy of a certain family. From the time I walked past an aisle, got on the escalator, and reached the top, I was being closely watched. Just as I thought that I had finally arrived on the Bombay scene, my hopes were dashed. My sister dutifully reported to me that their eyes were brimming with tears of joy on spotting someone taller than their tall daughter. Hmm, and in such ways I go about spreading happiness and cheer.
No shopping trip is complete without visiting the clothes section. While I hopped around checking stuff, my sister kept a wary distance. She’s been scarred for life after buying something off the rack from a mall and bumping into someone who was wearing the identical thing. Repeatedly traumatized by such experiences, she has the simple policy of keeping away from mass produced mall products (whew, quite a mouthful). But I just went ahead and bought a pair of capris. Besides, my aunt generously offered to sponsor it, so then there were no two ways about it.
So I shall be back to Hyper City- to eat and eye. Or maybe if I just wait some more, that empty plot in front of my apartment will turn into a mall soon.