Sunday, October 7, 2012

Malladaptive Behaviour

A hundred posts and you would think I've finally been cured of the cheesy title syndrome. But then again, what's the point of writing a blogpost if you can't give a Margherita pizza an inferiority complex with a cheesy title?

So yes, if you haven't guessed already, this post is about malls. And how they've completely ruined the simple childhood thrill of going to a local market, turning us into a malladaptive lot.

When I was a kid (not too long ago, as I'd like to believe, thanksverymuch)...I used to hate going to the market. My parents would make a weekly customary trip to Sarojini Nagar to buy vegetables, and I hated going there because the vendors would all call me baby. I hated the squishy tomatoes that rolled off a pile and aided the formation of a red carpet on the muddy floor. I hated the green leafy vegetables glinting beneath a swinging 100 watt bulb from a lopsided roof. I hated the mounds of fresh paneer that smelled like cows when you went near them. I would fake stomach aches, pretend to get lost  in the milieu of crazy-vegetable-fanatics...I even tried getting accidentally locked inside the car so my parents would leave me there while shopping...but all to no avail. Except the ice cream cone that was my bribe to come to the market, I found every second of every trip an ordeal.

And so, when malls entered the country (not unlike the locusts entering Africa in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart), I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Now my parents could shop for vegetables in a fancy store while I could peruse books on the same floor. All was well with this new air-conditioned world and I bid Sarojini Nagar a fervent farewell.

Several years later, when Forum opened up in Bangalore, I was the enthu-cutlet who did a recce of all the half-opened shops. The McDonald's, that HUGE food court....the clothing stores...the multilevel bookstore...I could've died and gone to mall-heaven.

My affair with the malls continued through college, as I wandered from store to store in huge buildings, took many a movie in multiplexes, had every food stall cognitively mapped out and knew exactly where I could buy what. I had turned into the quintessential mall-rat.

Let's cut this love saga short and fast forward to today. I visited this swanky mall that should ideally be my paradise. I stepped into the grand facade, looking at everything awestruck, like a kid (or me, even) in a candy store. Every store had a name that was spelt in one way, but pronounced in another. Shimmering fabric was enveloped in glass cubicles, daring you to come closer to see if it was for real. Shoes were glinting under lights that could have lit an entire village for two months...heck, the cost of one pair of those shoes could educate children from an entire village for two months.

I thought I'd be enthralled at visiting such a was, after all, the king of malls. But I cringed at the sight of frozen, diced vegetables looking sanitised enough to be wheeled into an operation theatre. Instead, I found myself searching for the rustic thatched stalls selling fresh vegetables. I heard the murmur of Burberry-Chanel-Jimmy Choo  around me...but yearned to listen to aloooooo-gobieeeeee-matarmatarmatarmatar. I lost myself amidst the suavely dressed people walking from store to store as if they owned diamond mines...and wished for that corner of my mother's dupatta that I used to wrap around my pinky, while manoeuvring in a chaotic crowd.

I found myself wishing I could go back in time to when I'd begin my stomach-ache faking...tell the seven year old (ok, so maybe it was a long time ago) to take in every sight and sound, that it wouldn't last very long. I'd tell myself to watch that tomato roll off the pile in perfect rhythm to the cacophony around. I'd convince myself that being called a baby as a kid is far better off than being called a babe as an adult...umm...maybe I'm pushing it with this one.

From Gandhi Bazaar to Sarojini Nagar, markets have this charm of bringing back childhood memories like nothing else. Today, as I drive out of the mall on that spirally multi-level parking thingy, I can't help but wonder if there will be a day when I'll look back at that mall with the same nostalgia I have for a market.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sau Far, Sau Good

Five years, four cities, three phoren lands and two degrees later, my blog has finally done a Sachin Tendulkar on the web with this - the 100th post. Again, like Sachin Tendulkar, it took many many attempts to get the post online. As an idealistic rookie in 2007, I was certain that I'd be typing my 100th post that very year. (But then again, I was also certain I would become a geo-political journalist and write my way to a Pulitzer Prize back then.) So today, I'm glad it's taken all of five years to get here. Believe me, you would not have wanted to read a hundred posts on how my life was trippin' back in 2007.

In five years, so many things have changed.

My carrier (as those well-meaning aunties and uncles who intercept you on the way to the dining area in a phamily phunction call it) has taken a blind U-turn...eerily resembling my land up on a new and interesting road.

My parents have taken an equally blind U-turn and gone from Oh god, she's only nineteen! We don't want her to elope with some rockstar dude with facial piercings and indecipherable tattoos! to a contrasting Oh god, she's twenty four! Why can't she just find someone to marry instead of making us search? 

And then again, so many things haven't  changed.

I continue to make friends who are completely ok with giggling like a gaggle of geese (do geese giggle? It just sounded nicely alliterative, though.) They (the friends, not the geese) have been part of some wild adventures (in des and pardes) and continue to inspire the crazy in me.

I still obsess about chick-lit, weird television soaps, certain shirtless gentlemen, MO of serial killers and psychopaths of the creepiest severity.

So, What?

So, yes...these five years have truly been a roller-coaster ride. Beginning in Bangalore, going through Hyderabad all the way up to Delhi, peaking in Germany and Italy...nosediving into Chennai and ending back where it all started. The people, the memories, the adventures, the heartaches, the exhilaration of new beginnings has made this ride completely worth it.

But the ride's only completed one all roller-coaster maniacs, no one can sit on a ride just one time simply have to re-strap, take another deep breath and get started on the adventure all over again...