A visit to a mall is therapeutic. No wonder they call it retail therapy. The noise, the music (it seems as if they play the music to drive people into a frenzy of spending), the eating, the displaying of clothes, the soft lights, the dressed up mannequins (some of them so life-like), the well-fed round bodies putting the thinner ones to shame, the display of nonchalance as those gorgeous beauties with straightened hair and made-up faces sashay towards you. Oh, it's such a different world, as if paradise has been re-created in this country. Nobody even thinks there's a recession on. Everyone is happy laughing, smiling, joking, flirting, fooling around.
I go to Raghuleela Mall in Vashi to buy a pair of shoes as the old one is falling to pieces and no amount of repairing by the cobbler is making a difference. This time I would like to buy a Woodland as the tough brand seems to understand Indian roads and walking conditions. There's a discount. I buy something I fancy. Rs 1370 gone. Inside the store a woman stares at me. Have we met? I don't know if I am famous or something, or I am out of place, but she stares as if she has seen a ghost. I know I am a bit unusual-looking, however, I don't think I am so unusual as to be stared at. I would like to ask her if she knows me from somewhere, or, if she knows I am a writer, poet and blogger. But I am not so confident in public, I am diffident, so I don't.
I buy my shoes and then I see them. They are sitting facing a chair, three of them, waiting to massage customers. The chubby boys and girls don't look around, they seem to be meditating, looking steadily at the chair in front of them, concentrating, as if their lives were in peril if a customer didn't come to them. One thing about recession is that you can get people like them to work for you.
I buy corn at Rs 45, a lot of masala added to it. I buy a kurta. I like kurtas. I am wearing one. Is that why people are staring? I don't know. As I exit, a youth stares at me. His face is oddly familiar. I don't know if we have met. Is he my son's friend? He has a tiny beard on his chin as has my son. Again, I wonder if I am famous, or something. Should I start wearing dark glasses to escape attention? Not likely, because bloggers can't be famous. They don't make much money, you see.
Out on the street there are imitations of famous brands of shoes on sale selling for Rs 75 each. Corn on cob sells for Rs 10, lime and masala rubbed on it for taste. Inside burgers sell for Rs 50 and outside vada-pavs sell for Rs 8. There's no music except the plaintive cries of the vendors. The night is dark and it's raining.
Retail therapy! Nobody cares there's a recession on in the world. Even I don't. There's plenty of money to splurge. We all fall into the deep chasms of our own making.
I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.