So recently, I went to the mall.
You can stop rolling your eyes now.
For someone who’s currently entrenched in a quaint, archaic sort of land with 1920’s architecture (No, not Goa doofus, Kolkata..what were you thinking?), with weekends spent trying to decide between the YouTube video of an orang-utan juggling peanut-studded poo or getting off bed to make Maggi before my internal organs go on a Rath-yatra, this was kind of a big step.
I mean, you men-folk can just thrown on a pair of boxers (um..you do wear those right? Right?? NO??!) and jeans and do the whole Axe-waala-X on your chest thing and bounce out. But a woman?? Noooo…She, cannot step out of her homestead without transforming from a ganji-clad gauche goat who would attract flies if she stood in one place for 5 seconds or more, into something that just walked out of Vogue. Or at least, tried her damnedest to look so.
So yeah, after 2 auto rides that would give Skywalker chronic nightmares, I find myself in a prominent mall lovingly nick-named ‘The Square’. They might as well have called it ‘Enormous Quadrilparallelmazeogram’.
Dear Reader, have you ever noticed that when mall-hopping with your lunatic friend-gang, you don’t give a makkhi’s ass where you’re going? On more than one occasion I saw pimply teenage BFFs do a whole pradakshina of the place only to find themselves end up where they began, do the whole fake-laugh-so-loud-they-wet-themselves “So silly Yaaaaaaaaaar, phir se yahaan pahunch gaye LOL ROFL” and happily proceed to do the whole thing all over again. But yours truly got hopelessly lost so many damn times I wouldn’t survive 2 minutes into the ‘Wrong Turn’.
And for the sake of Satan’s Holy Bananas, there should be SOME sort of education given to dingbats who believe a girl strolling around a mall alone is like a menu board advertising ‘Chicken Kathi Rolls at half-price!’. Or maybe we could pass a law on the maximum duration a stare can last. (More than 8 seconds and you earn a stuck-out-tounge. More than 15 and it’s a knee-to-the-groin. Yo, this might just work.)
So since you’ve successfully read this far (How jobless ARE you, anyway?) allow me to present the ‘Complete Snapshot of Solitary Mall-walking’ based on my day.
- Young couples dotted over the landscape gazing soulfully into each other’s eyes over Momos and Jaljeera, which is waaaaaay tougher for the poor bastard who also has to struggle to ignore Ms. Mini-skirt-and-stilettos that just breezed past. I feel for you, dude.
- You see that Adonis at the table across? The one sitting there with two Cokes and an inviting smile? Yep, he’s waiting for his girlfriend. She will sweep in, sit her Cosmo-worthy- figure down, lay perfectly manicured fingers on his shoulder and simultaneously throw a monkey wrench into your reverie of two kids and a house in Indiranagar. (I kept within the 8-second rule, mothergodpromise.)
- Aunty-ji, go ahead, be my guest, grab a chair. You are perfectly entitled to share a Food court table with a girl who’s eating alone. But if you come back with shopping bags that could house Dharavi’s population, 2 horrified kids, one harassed husband, one asthmatic saasu-maa and 3 cocker-spaniels and arrange them all in a circle around me to stare embarrassingly until I leave, I must inform you that I, am also perfectly entitled to order a samosa and nibble it for 15 minutes.
- Speaking of nibbles..tell me Good folk of the world, is there a rule that states girls are not allowed to eat more than the width of their palm? Must we carry around little weighing scales to balance our food and derive calorie-equations before we order? Is there a dictum in the Scripture that states that “Thou shalt not consume an entire Sizzler if thou doth not own a pee-pee, and if thou shalt lay eyes on a woman that doth, ‘tis thy duty to pelt the harlot with disapproving glances until she repenteth and orders a Caesar Salad.’ ??
- And sincerely, supermarket-owners, if one more of your staff tails one inch behind me with a creepy plastic smile for more than 5 mins while I try to discreetly compare prices of deodorants and/or pick out canned food, so help me God, I will throttle her with trip-wire and leave a note beside explaining why she hated her job due to employer harassment.
But the whole harrowing experience taught me one truth of life that I have seen from Kashmir to Kanyakmari (I can say this since I have actually been to both places, holymotherofBatman :O) You want to place a finger on the pulse of a city in a day?? Forget the whole “Walk the streets and eat roadside food” drivel you’ve heard all your life.
Go to the nearest mall. It is a glorious cross-section of every quirk, every namoona, every item that inhabits the city all packed into ‘2 lakh sq.ft. with fully aircondition’. Plus, you get Sizzlers.