There are different kinds of mall in this world. Firstly there is ‘The Mall’, the one which is large and dominating, casting a long shadow of “western culture” over these impoverished lands, you know, the one with controlled environment (read: air conditioned) and boasting such brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton et cetra (read: whatever you won’t be buying anytime soon). Then there are what are called “Strip Malls”. Also reviled as the “Park Malls”, sheltering myriads of bargain stores selling chinese products and cheap imitations (you know, the one where you end up buying things from). And lastly, the Discount Malls or the Hypermarkets (if you so prefer). I’ll be talking about them in the rest of the post.
So the other day, my dad declared that we will be going to a mall. When my dad says “Let’s go to a mall” it normally means we go to this posh mall, and window-shop for two to three hours, eat out and return home. I consider these “outings” a rather pain in the ….ah, well…eyes for one thing, watching all those branded items costing an arm and a leg and more if they choose. Hence I usually end up in a Crossword Store with a book in one hand and an ice-cream in another just to escape the window shopping ritual.
But that day it was to be different. That’s because it was a Sunday, for one thing, and we don’t go to Inorbit or anything but to an archetypical HyperMarket. You know, hypermarket is like those 7-11 stores or those Big Bazaars mushroomed to the size of a very large mall. And it was a Sunday. The hypermarket had taken the form of a rather obnoxious human ant-hill. The whole place was swarming with people (mostly women) trying to make use of the obscene discount that was being offered in the place (on a socialist note, the same ones which were driving the poor vegetable-sellers out of business). It was kind of ironic to see all those ladies , manicured and dressed up in western style (branded), screaming, jostling and fighting to lay their hands on discounted beans; and swearing like pirates while they were at it. I was unfortunately standing lost, near the vegetable counter, when this fat lady comes and nearly knocks me down. I was holding my ground ( quite literally ) and look up to realize that she probably didn’t care as she was too busy putting the potatoes in the basket, all the while competing with other women, who were surrounding the counter like a swarm of hungry piranhas. Of course there was a 30% discount on potatoes that day.
My parents were obviously not immune to the charms of heavy discounts, and so we end up buying a bunch of things that we did not need. And whenever we buy something in a mall, it’s a tradition that it is I who end up in the queue in front of the payment counter. And that day, the queue was SO darn epic, that its epicness was solely matched by its own epicness. I stood in the queue for more than an hour.
My family members were kind enough to leave me in the lurch, to go look “whether they have forgotten to buy something”. I am left behind wondering who would be paying if my turn comes up. Luckily, that never transpired.
So now, over thirty minutes pass and I am in the middle of my line. In front of me, there’s this Gujju family with their three year old daughter, exchanging words in rapid Gujarati and behind me was this little bald guy. Definitely not the kind of company you would prefer to pass an hour with. But Fates have a way to make things interesting.
A hot lady (Note to Stein: she was in her twenties ) walks up to our line pushing her trolley. The queue is pretty long and discouraging. But so are the other queues. She pushes her trolley and brings it close to the Gujju family. She looks around, and spots me looking at her suspiciously. She gives me her most winning smile. What the hell am I supposed to do? I melt. The little girl (the one with the Gujju family) was in the meantime staring up at the woman and bursting spit bubbles. The Hot lady bends down in front of the girl and says, “I am leaving my trolley here, okay?” the little girl bursts another spit bubble. Her parents don’t notice anything, being too busy in their conversation. The lady walks away, leaving her trolley behind.
Okay, now what? What the hell am I supposed to do in this situation? The woman is trying to cut in. I was in the queue for past thirty minutes or so. How can I give away my place to an upstart? But then, it was a pretty face that I would have to give way to. And we wonder why Adam ate the apple…..
I spend a while arguing with myself over this, when the lady in question returns. She walks in to the line. “Hey, hey,” I said. “you are cutting in.” I tell her. She looks at me with a perplexed expression. “Am I? “ she asks, smiling in a pretty way. The way she was smiling …..was so pretty, so pretty ……that it was downright devious. I took a moment to realize this but it struck me that the woman knew people thought she was hot, and also knew she could manipulate them. To say the truth, I felt kind of angry that she tried to manipulate me (of all the people). “you obviously DID notice that there’s quite a substantial bunch of people behind me .” I said.
The people started noticing. The lady took on a confused look and said ,“I was always here, why don’t you ask the little girl.” She turns to the girl and asks,” wasn’t I always here, child?” Everyone around stares at the girl. The little girl bursts a spit bubble.
I laughed a rather overly-mocking laugh and tell her “ You are asking a little girl who obviously does not understand what’s going on? That’s low.” Everyone around goes rather quiet.
The lady senses the hostile gazes from the people in my queue and acquiesces. Tucking a strand of hair behind her delicate ears, she played the martyr. “Okay, so it seems you are in a hurry, fine then, go ahead.” I must put in, she looked really cute while doing that. Everyone turned and resumed their conversation. Then when no one was noticing, she gave me a rather venomous look, full with hostility. It was only then I realized that I was grinning at her like a village idiot.
And that, as they say, is that. I won the Battle at the Hypermarket, all thanks to the little girl who preferred bursting spit bubbles like a retard and did not bother answering the hot lady and of course, thanks to the middle class Indian crowd which does not like girls in low-neck Ts and tight jeans (rather preferring to portray such specimen as villains in soup operas). I for one realized why I was so unpopular with girls of around my age.