Yesterday our daughter was celebrating her birthday ( her birthday was on 2nd Jan when school was closed for the vacation. So we decided to do it this weekend). We had all the kids over for lunch after which we ferried them across to see a movie. The movie was at the ESCAPE theatre complex in the EXPRESS Avenue Mall. As the movie was for one and a half hours only, my husband and I decided to wait there rather than go home and come back again. The idea was to spend some time together .while the kids were inside the theatre
But when we reached the mall, we realized that this was probably the last place in the world to spend some quality time with anyone! There was some sort of an event happening at the reception where a girl was shouting into a mike asking people to do “push ups” to win a prize!
To escape that shrieking voice, we tried to run into the food court-which I must confess was more crowded than a college canteen on days when ragging is in progress! There was not a single chair left unoccupied!. We then decided to try the coffee shops- the same ..! They were willing to serve us coffee if we were willing to stand and drink it like in Madras Central Railway station –but ofcourse at the exorbitant Mall rates.
In sheer desperation we went into a rather expensive restaurant just to have some coffee – or should I say some PEACE? My husband felt that the crowd was on account of the holiday weekend. But I have usually found it like this on all weekends! In fact we try to avoid coming there unless absolutely necessary. But as I looked around I found that this was THE place for many couples! I wondered what kind of conversations they might be having in that noise and crowd? The movie theatres there did not seem to be improving the situation either. Each time a show was over we found the crowd suddenly surging with more people!
This thing about Chennai that always puzzles me is the inability to get movie tickets at short notice! I know that this is a city of movie lovers but with movies in atleast three languages ( Tamil, Hindi and English ) one should be able to get some tickets for some movie. I think even flop films run “house full” in this town!
Now this is my theory, ( I may be completely wrong) that Chennai is not a very social place – people here do not really visit friends much or make social calls. Yes they do make those obligatory social calls on relatives but that’s about it! Chennai is also a place where strangers are not easily accepted or made to feel at home. So, for the huge population that has come in from other places to work in the various offices in Chennai, it must be a feeling of complete alienation and loneliness which they can only kill by “hanging out” in malls! Lets face it , a mall offers everyone a relative sense of anonymity along with the comfort of being in a crowd. It is better than sitting alone in a restaurant and eating a meal I guess!
Otherwise I cannot explain the reason for such huge crowds in the malls every weekend. There are atleast five malls in the city and each other has movie halls too but you cannot get tickets easily ( I once kept an alarm and made a call to the Satyam call centre at 1.00AM because I desperately wanted tickets for a particular movie for the next weekend!) in any one of them. Eating at the food courts in these malls is stressful to say the least!
I have been to malls in Bangalore , Hyderabad, Gurgaon and Ahmedabad. I did not ever see this kind of maddening crowd- and imagine this is reported to be the largest mall in Southern India! I just think this is the fall out of being in a unfriendly, conservative city which has limited entertainment options ( sorry, hardcore Chennai lovers!). I think it is about time we Chennaites opened our homes to colleagues and friends so that we can build more relationships and have quality interactions rather than trying to lose ourselves in a crowd!