Mall culture: A new way of life

Sunday, 18 June 2006 - 7:31pm IST

Civic problems apart, malls are inspiring a definitive culture among the youth and strongly influencing their growth, says Sandhya Menon.

With malls around every corner, our lives are ready to take an about turn


Varkha Lobo, 27, has boycotted malls, especially the one near her house in Malad. “I used to go to Inorbit for the smallest of needs because the supermarket is so convenient,” she says. However, ever since this budding model’s car was damaged in the parking lot and the mall took a completely indifferent stand to it, she hasn’t gone back. 


“We have taken every possibility into consideration before we went ahead with the mall. Sometimes, you just have to ignore things like increased traffic and excessive heat generated by a mall building,” says an employee of the promoters of Inorbit Mall, who prefers anonymity. “People are willing to forgive all this because of the convenience a mall brings.”


But Lobo’s is not an isolated case. The recently opened Atria Mall in Worli saw much protest from road-users and residents alike just before it was cleared for opening. There are many who believe that malls — with their glamour and avenues for passing time — are the worst things to happen to residential areas. 


“Parking hassles and noise are the smaller problems,” points out Shekhar Ravindran, president of a housing society in Mulund, near Nirmal Lifestyle. “Water problems, terrible traffic jams during the weekends and robberies have increased because of malls near residential areas,” he says.


However, most mall promoters point out that plans for the malls are approved by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation only after they have taken civic problems into consideration.


But civic problems apart, malls are inspiring a  definitive culture among the youth and strongly influencing their growth. “I don’t see too many youngsters playing outdoor games these days,” says Meenakshi Lakhe, who lives close to Infinity Mall in Andheri where she runs an interactive study group. Her students, she says, prefer to spend their evenings hanging around the malls. 


Then of course, is the entirely unrelated issue of the irresistible temptations  of well-stocked shopping  havens. As Anushree Lad, an editor with a production house, says, “I end up going to the mall for little things that I could just as well buy in a corner shop. As a result, I end up spending more time and money than I should.” 


For malls, the path to redemption is clearly not unachievable. Delnaaz Paul who lives opposite Hypercity and Inorbit Mall says the basic problem boils down to the traffic jams. “If that is taken care of, then I don’t see a problem with malls near your home,” says Paul.  Dittos actor Deepshika, who lives in the same area: “It’s the crowds that really create trouble for residents, rather than anything else.” 



Ups and downs


What’s good:


  • Great resale prices on property

  • Everything is next door, including high fashion brands

What’s bad:

  • Security risks with food courts and cinemas staying open till late

  • Parking/electricity/water shortage

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