Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Dark Underbelly

The photos of Ambi Mall in Gurgaon fist picture is of the ceiling, second one is the four floor of retail space, third one is picture taken at evening, and last one is seven floor tower.
They bedazzle you; and they have an intimidating presence which leaves the mouths open and eyes wide. They are huge and are off frightening proportions, anyone visiting them first time can be dumbfounded by its sheer dazzle, and by the time he can gain his better senses, he will be glaring at the mannequins and windows designs, wondering whether he is in the same country. Welcome to the world of ‘malls’.

Though the concept is not new, but in India the phenomenon has just caught the fire. Seldom there is any teenager who hasn’t visited the mall. With advent of foreign brands, it is only to grow. With high disposable income in hand, people are willing to spend, who after all cares about the recession. The entire structure also contributes; it provides jobs, taxes and revenue. So it is win-win situation or is it.

I happened to visit Ambi Mall in Gurgaon on Saturday as my one friend has threw his birthday party there. One of largest malls in India, it houses over 300 stores, a hotel, food court, many restaurants and one beer island. The structure is intimidating, as when you enter the complex, first noticeable thing is the serpentine queue of the cars of every make looking for a parking space. And on entering the building, you are flooded by the sea of bustling humanity who are already there going from store to store whether buying or not. With at least four floors and a million and half square meters of shopping space, it is not much difficult to get lost in the place. Some time it does reminds me about the ‘fairs’ that I used to visit earlier, the only difference is the air-conditioning and class of the crowds visiting the place.

But even though we thought we will have a hell of a time. I somehow felt subdued and angry. I am still unable to fanthom the reason for such feeling. But it was there. Was I got overawed by the giganticness of the structure? Or was I got amazed by the spending power of the country which is supposedly going through recession? Or was it something else, something like some child of fourteen helping in construction of a new restaurant. Or the underage maids who were helping out the young moms to manage their newborns, so that the mom can have some fun with their hubbies. The dark underbelly of the Indian society.

As I moved around in the place, doing what other people were religiously doing, moving from place to place, with my eyes moving everywhere, newest trends to beautiful young women and towards the sexy legs going around in the mall. I was still wondering was it still worth. Although I was having a good time but something has kept pinching me, and is still pinching. I can feel it.

With these structures, we can surely satisfy our materialistic needs, the needs which we feel fulfills us. There is nothing bad in aspiring for something. But can we, as a society, accept that our desires are being met by someone whose age is still to nurture dreams. Every time when we visit such place and we see things like this we tend to ignore it. Can these great structures and this great society have such weak foundations? The question is still open, and it is pervasive, not just related malls.

© Tarun Mitra


Mridula said...

I understand what you are saying. But once again think of it like this, have you come across any parents who would not fund their child's education, particulalrly their son? If these kids are working, there is no way their parents can fund the fee. If we could just put the kid of the maids working in our homes at school so many more children would be in schools.

Tarun Mitra said...

Well Mridula, the answer to your question is yes. I have came across such parents who do not want to fund their son or daughters education (even when it is free). He is one of the sweeper who works in our colony. And when an old uncle made this point to him he just politely shrugged him off. And yes, for putting the the children of maids in the school people do have to get rid of 'chottu plate utha le' attitude.