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They get Bangalored. We get malled.

Some one year back, Bangalore welcomed India’s largest mall, gave it space, electricity, water and land amidst all the aforementioned shortages. In the last decade, this decadent mall culture has crept up and before we know it, every major road in all cities seems to have been bestowed with them. Another avenue for us to do some window shopping in style. As if a mall in the midst of a half dug up road, submerged in a cloud of vehicle smoke and surrounded by retarded motorists adds to the beauty of the moment.

When Thomas Friedman said the world is flat, everyone seemed to nod their heads in unison. And in the last decade and a half, we seem to be in a terrible hurry to import outside influences without raising an eye brow. Major food chains have found their way into our daily existence and some of the fares they dish out are a delight to the palate. In the same spirit, if we assiduously made an effort to also import their dignity of labor and sense of civic hygiene, and lane discipline, our country will be the better for it. Imagine a pot hole free existence and riding without lane discipline. There you go, you’re feeling much better already. While no part of the universe lives in utopia (my congratulations to the playboy mansion for transgressing this reality), countries must import the best from their counterparts and not just what’s easy.

This cross cultural exchange has its pitfalls and calls for a certain amount of restraint in what we import and export. Imagine stepping into Copenhagen and stepping on dog poop. Almost every country has something good we can learn from. Mannerisms, food, common sense, and open minds. So instead of being in this race to import food chains and malls and international brands, we could do ourselves a lot of good by welcoming into our lives even the other good stuff that would in the long run bring us tangible benefits and not just fatty foods, fancy footwear, and Bikram yoga.

When malls first made an entry into our collective existence, the presence of a multitude of pretty young things walking up and down seemed motivation enough pay a visit. While I am no stranger to them malls, none would care to handover a frequent visitor pass to me either. But from time to time I slip in to catch the latest flick and silently weep as I shell out fifty bucks for a pack of popcorn. While the multiplex seats are a far cry from the back breakers in older theaters, I feel a pinch where I place my wallet. And all the good feelings get negated.

In times like this, the wish is for simplicity, some reasonably priced popcorn and ticket prices in double figures. Until then, if you run into me at the mall, consider all of this as just a piece of fiction.


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