Sunday, January 15, 2012

THE MALL MADNESS


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!

21 comments:

DeEpAK KaRtHiK (420) said...

Chennai has got very few leisure places and Malls are inevitable in that list, EA is a great place to hangout(not for purchase).. with my friends we will roam several hours just to have a cup of coffee :P
Chennai is not great social place, well said..
one night I had a snake in my house and am struggling to get rid of it but all aunties and uncles out there were watching like day and night match and adding comments " hey don't hit it and get curses :P" chennai differs from other parts of TN a lot !

yet another excellent post and good topic to discuss :) :)
-DeepaK

KParthasarathi said...

You are very right when you said that "Chennai is not a very social place – people here do not really visit friends much or make social calls."But this malaise is catching up in other cities as well as the kids do not enjoy such social calls and prefer to be left alone.
Unlike the malls in US, ours are all built in smaller places with limited area and that makes them over crowded and stifling.The crux of the problem is we are too many people and growing faster than our cities would permit!!

L KRUPAA said...

A good post. I feel visiting a mall stressful, the surging crowds, the packed food court, the price tag at stores prohibitive. From what i have seen, it is all window shopping and no serious buying. I havent visited malls at other places but thought malls at Bangalore more so Mantri Mall was crowded.

Rahul Bhatia said...

Meera, as this is a new phenomena, the trend will continue!The malls are the 'new Mecca' today!

anindita said...

Meera, I have a similar story about food courts in malls of Navi Mumbai. I personally do not like hanging out in mall but then at times we have to these places. The crowd has been so maddening with no single chair available. The scarcity of courtesy is even more than the scarcity of chairs, even when I asked a person to just allow my baby to sit for a while until we find a place for her or may be feed her, people refused. Space is a rare commodity and the food just does not do justice to the cost.
And well, I actually do not enjoy window shopping, I am very fast shopper…so expensive malls are no-baba-no…

Bikramjit said...

I can say yes about being friendly, visited a few times ..

but this rush in malls is common now dont you think, people dont go to each others house anymore ... also as the above comment too much population tooo :)

Bikram's

rama said...

It is really sad about the Malls being crowded, though I have not been to a proper Mall in Chennai. In Bangalore too it is becoming crowded. However, I can spend hours in the Mall visiting the shops alone, not even buying anything, and reach home feeling totally refreshed.
I think for some quality time, the best place has become home these days

Meera Sundararajan said...

Yes Rama it looks like home is the best place to be in for getting some quality time. I agree with Bikram about people not visiting each other's homes.Yes, looks like this is the effect of population that we are experiencing!

Jack said...

Meera,

I feel what you say may be right to an extent. However I find malls crowded even in Delhi or Gurgaon with many persons there just to while away time, including ogling.

Take care

Tomz said...

So I learned one thing. if you ever want to make a film, make it in Tamil. Even if your creation is a silly one, you will get your money back..Thanks..

Meera Sundararajan said...

@ TOMZ, you are spot on! Tamilians only want to watch a movie- they are interested in whether it is good or bad :-)

Jack maybe the crowd thing is a matter of perception. You are right about people wanting to while away their time!

Rachna said...

I don't know which malls you've been to in Bangalore, but the malls I've been to are all always packed during weekends. The worst nightmares are the traffic and the parking woes. Then there are contests going on during different festivals. I try to go to the Mall during weekdays preferably.

Cloud Nine said...

Definitely a post to ponder on. Loved the last line, Chennaiites ought to open up their homes to friends and colleagues. And movies and Tamilians are Made For Each Other- They survive on each other;)

Vaish said...

First time on your blog and hit the wrong post I guess! I'm a proud chennaiitte - love every bit of it for what it is. Very true about EA, and I did not like any of the new malls! and LOL! at comparing it with college canteen. oh Yes...making obligatory phone calls - and how I hate that! People had been conservative, and now slowly changing . But I have never found them unsocial! I lived all my life in chennai and never came across any problems, may be I was too busy in my school, college and friends!

I think malls in every other city in India is crowded, let alone Chennai. But that said, crowd and chennai go along together! That's how it has been all the time. Started noticing this paradigm shift in people's behaviour and in chennai itself for the last 5 years. People's outlook is changing and they are trying to come out of this conservative shell. Coz, earlier when we used to wear Jean and T, people/oldies used to stare! But not these days! Good post though!

Meera Sundararajan said...

Vaish welcome to my blog!Chennai is a very conservative city. If you have grown up here you probably have your own circle of friends. But migrants like me are not so easily accepted. It is that aspect of Chennai that I do not like. However as you say, it is changing.

development said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
development said...

Meera,
During my college days, whenever I felt home sick, i used to go to the most crowded place in my area and spend a few hours there. Believe me or not... I felt better after doing so!

sathiyabama said...

During my college days, whenever I feel homesick, I just go to a marketplace crowded with people and spend some time over there. Believe me or not... I felt better after doing so...

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

Surprising, I didn't know that it was so difficult to buy film tickets at short notice in Chennai. It's not the case in Delhi or Noida, I can vouch for that.

Happy Kitten said...

First time at your blog..

Your post reminded me of Kuwait and it's malls... the most crowded place in this small country.. and the reason being the same.. a conservative society and not a social one.. so the only place to have a sense of belonging are the malls. The malls are already filled to the brim with the Kuwaitees and the expats just try to fit in.

But then from the comments, I gather that Chennai is not any different from other cities.. so I guess this is becoming a universal phenomenon. We have no time for the those geographically nearer to us but would rather zoom away to some far away place.

Rhapsody B. said...

Blessings....
Though i cannot weigh in on the Mall in Chennai i can say that it sounds similar to the bigger malls here in and around Toronto especially The Eaton Center and Scarborough Town Center, generally they are crowded especially on the weekends. I seldom visit and when i do I tend to do so in the midday during the week where there is less crowd and hassle.

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