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Malls

2022-06-20

I recently went to a mall after a long time. After living in a mostly rural area for about two years due to COVID, this was my first visit to a city. Obviously I was hoping to catch up with old friends and acquaintances during my visit. What I did not think of was the fact that they too were all back to their native towns. The whole city was empty, from my perspective. Naturally like any small town guy visiting a city with nothing to do I went to the mall. Movies, food, shopping, what’s not to like right?

Wrong.

It just made me more aware of how I was being scammed. The moment I walked in, a security guard stopped me and asked me to wear a mask. Of course, I did not have one since the mask mandate is long gone and I am vaccinated but you could not enter the mall without one. Luckily, the guard was selling masks for five rupees each. You see where I am going with this? After buying the mask (the quality of which indicated that it cost more than 10 times its value) I entered the mall to be greeted by smells of fast food and new clothes and air conditioner and shoes and everything that was not for free. Except the air, the air was free. I noticed a lot of people just like me who were there to escape the heat outside. These are the few things that struck out to me during the two and a half hour visit I had in the mall.

The escalators were placed in such a way that to get to the top floor where the most interesting things are (food court, cinema) you had to move through a series of escalators. One would be on one end of the mall, and then the next one at the other. So if someone wants to get to the top floor they would have to walk by all the shops on every floor. I suspect this was purposefully made so as to attract the most people to the showrooms on every floor. Which brings me to my next point.

The showrooms. Every shop is supposed to be selling something. Some shoes, some clothes. But every single one of them was definitely selling one other thing, luxury. Dreams. The marketing inside was so much more effective than any TV or billboard ad. Each clothing item made you feel like it would make you the star of the world. Shoes that would help you run marathons, clothes that screamed lushness and barbershops that would make bald man have waves of jet black flowing from their scalps. And the worst thing of all? Everything was overpriced. I don’t blame the shop owners, they have to pay the rent for the expensive mall space. But that is the point! Malls should be obsolete now. Why would I go to a crowded place to buy clothes at 1.5 times their MRP and a lot more times its actual value, when the same product is available online at a discount! I guess this is what happens when brands matter more than quality.

The barbershop had barbers wearing suits cutting hair with gold plated scissors. Did they have more skill than my village barber? I think not. They both probably trained at the same Javed Habib academy that every other barber trains at. The suit does not make him more skilled, but it does make him more aesthetically pleasing and about ten times costlier. The movie theater was the same like any other except the popcorn and cold-drinks were more expensive than the food at other movie theaters. There was a book store, a big stationary brand in there. The shop was selling all books at very expensive prices. Plain notebooks worth 500 rupees and the paper quality the same as any other regular notebook. Right in front of that one, another book store which claimed “BUY USED BOOKS 85% OFF”. I went there to see the difference and the books cost the same. Same woman, different makeup.

Now you might start thinking that the gist of this post is everything expensive but its not. The point is, what value do these things provide over other alternatives? The whole deal felt like it was a big scam, and everyone was in on it except the small guy. He goes in and buys a T-shirt worth 4000 bucks, which he could have used for buying three pairs of clothes. And Guess what? It is usable for the same time as any other 400 buck T shirt in local shops. I am not talking out of some random place, but this is from experience. I have been on both ends of this stick and the mall end is just too damn costly. I suggest you, the reader, keep these points in mind before going to a mall the next time.

Also, I did not buy anything in case you were wondering.

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