Way back in 07, a few months into Japan, I wrote a bit about missing the familiarity of a New Zealand supermarket while getting used to the ones in Japan, which obviously contained completely different products. Something somewhat similar happened when I visited Mumbai at Palladium Mall, a ather opulent (at least by Indian standards) edifice in the CBD. I had expected something quite different, and found myself comparing the experience both to my (glorious?) past experience of malls in NZ and my preconceptions of an ‘Indian Mall’.
Upon arrival, my charming host needed to do some toy shopping for a children’s birthday party, so she suggested I go for a wander in the main mall while she waded into the crush of Hamley’s opposite. Off I went, into“Mumbai’s most luxurious retail destination centre”, and what greeted me was a cavernous space rising up three floors, ringed with exclusive outlets on each level. Everything sparkled and looked very expensive, all brand names and price tags, and the biggest impression of all came from the fact that it was nearly empty at lunchtime on a weekday.
I instinctively whipped out my cameraphone and started taking a few pictures. A security guard came hurrying over. “Sir. No photography.” I apologised and put my phone back in my pocket, then started to meander up the escalators and into the abyss. I wasn’t allowed to capture the moment, for whatever reason, but in a way there was nothing to capture – it was this bizarre, static world of exclusivity and nobody actually buying anything.