Malls Malls Everywhere Not a Library to be Seen!

By Mridula Dwivedi August 29, 2005 28 Comments ,

The Mall Culture is comparatively new in India. When I was in college there were no malls in most of the cities. Today, the big cities boast of one too many. On a 2 km stretch of a road in Gurgaon (quite close to New Delhi) you can count four malls. There is the Metropolitan Mall (with a multiplex movie theater called PVR), the City Center Mall (that has a multiplex called DT) right across the Metropolitan and a place called Arcus. The funny part is there is no passenger subway or over bridge between the Metropolitan and the City Center malls and pedestrians always have fight with the motorized vehicles to cross the road.

Initially, these malls held some attraction for me. I used to enjoy the visits. They are colorful and a good distraction but now it seems that was at least a century ago!

A Mall in Gurgaon

I still like going to the movie sometimes in these malls but on a weekend they get so horribly crowded that all the fun it taken away from the visit. On the weekdays, one has to always weigh the option having fun/sleeping late with feeling sleepy throughout the day in the office.

But otherwise, I have completely lost interest in these places. Why? I find the stuff sold there so overpriced and the hype generated around them huge (I realized this and much more through an excellent book called No Logo by Naomi Klein).

When I realized that more than half the product price inflation comes from advertising and not production costs (Kareena Kapoors and Shahrukh Khans and Michael Jordans of the world get million bucks deal and you and I pay for it) I decided to move my shopping to less glamorous places. I also find the glossy images very boring after a while particularly in conjunction with the girt and grime of my daily life.

Still, malls are here to stay in India. In the same Gurgaon, you cannot find a decent playground or public library. But I guess it is a matter of demand and supply.


28 thoughts on “Malls Malls Everywhere Not a Library to be Seen!”

  1. I don’t like malls much either, but at I can usually find a library or a playground here; the malls haven’t taken over everything. There are some malls here that put play areas in the malls, and some of the big ones have amusement park rides (Notably the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At least it had one last time I was there.)

  2. Until I moved to Chicago I was a “Mall person”, but those places lack the character found on city streets and now I prefer non-mall shopping. It’s nicer being outside, and I’ve noticed the new trend in the U.S is to build outdoor Galleria style Malls. I guess that Malls will always be popular in extremely cold or extremely hot climates though.

  3. Interesting to see Malls in India through your pictures. I, too, hate the mall! I rarely go anymore. And the prices are outrageous! the funniest part is that malls are so sterile looking. Really, these photos you have could have been taken anywhere in the world. There is really not much to show cultural or national distinction. Also – How sad that there are so many malls, but NO PUBLIC LIBRARIES!!! Wow! … I am sorry to hear that! I hope that will change soon.

  4. That is so true Mridula. This is exactly what I felt about Gurgaon when I visited last November. Crossing the road between Metropolitan and DT was a nightmare. Who came up with this idea of having 2 huge malls opposite each other with no crosspath ? Plus such narrow roads that the traffic is crazy. I am so not used to it – I had to hold my sister’s hand everytime I wanted to cross. She stays in Gurgaon and hence is more accustomed to all this.During our last visit, we (Sunit and I) actually thought that when we return to India, we will open a library. We hope to do it someday. There is so much need for it.I think if the Govt. is not taking the initiative, it would be a nice cause (a continuing project) for some school or college to take up. I would gladly donate books etc. for such a project.

  5. As a teenager my friends and I spent hours at the mall; it was a social center. Now I only go if there’s something specific I need and get in and out as fast as possible.Our town has a new library with comfy chairs in seating areas with lots of windows and plants. I would take the library over the mall any day!

  6. Teri, when I was in college (and it was one of the few colleges that has such facilities) I was used to swimming pools and other good facilities but now out of it I can hardly find anything that is reasonably priced. Crystal, the mall phenomenon is comparatively new in India so they were not there when I was in my teens. But the outgrowing part, both of us have in common.Mo, I too thought that the pictures do look like coming from anywhere. And as Deepak was saying the only worthwhile library, in Delhi region is the British Library and it is so far away from my home.Pooja, sometimes I too dream of starting a library at a small scale. But till date, I have not gone beyond that stage. I will keep you in mind for books if I can ever do it :)Lily, how I envy you for your good library!I agree Deepak, and it is so far away from my home that going there is a project in itself. And after driving for five days a week to the office, both my husband and I do not feel like driving anymore. But we buy a lot of books and have friends who read a lot. So, I borrow books too.

  7. Gulnaz, if we think about we will be hard pressed to name any decent library apart from British Council and American ones. And thanks a lot for stopping by.

  8. Mridula,I liked the idea of this post’s title…yeah..mall culture is growing rapidly…here,in Hyderabad too…We can find a Mall in the vicinity…but hardly find a library…really a pity!nice post…

  9. Well, I tried posting a comment earlier, but it didn’t show up. Hmmm. . .I feel very fortunate to have such a nice library, especially in a town as small as the one I live in. I always get the urge when I walk in to start at one end and try to read every book on the shelves.Mridula, what kinds of books do you like to read?

  10. Ganga, that is so true of all the India.Lily I read anything that I can get. I like Calvin and Hobbes, I recently completed Love in Time of Cholera and just before that the latest Harry Potter. You can call me a scatter brain!Avik, I thought Kolkatta still has a stronger tradition of reading or is it just a myth?Tony, I went to your blog. So enjoy your cokking.


  12. Now that the mall culture is here to stay… I think the govt should have some stake with private companies (running these malls) to have say at least one library in every two malls they build. I’ve always had this belief tht there are enough policies out there, question is of proper implementation.

  13. I agree with you – Malls seems to have indeed taken over Indian shopping culture. In Hyderabad, where I live, a new mall seems to be coming up every day. I was in the US for a couple of years, and one of the amazing things I discovered about this place was the public library culture. I would spend hours in the library and never realize time run by. Sadly, that is till missing in this country. I am sorry I haven’t been able to come by and reply to your notes as well. Just been too busy, and things on mind. I still have that mail to write to you, but have not been sitting on it because we want to do the Leh-Ladakh trip sometime next year. But I will definitely write soon.

  14. Uma, I totally agree with you.Mustang that sounds like a good idea. Om book shop in Metropolitan Mall experimented with chairs in the shop for a while but they have disappeared.Emma, take your time, sort out things that need your attention and we will have our chat leisurely.

  15. a book person that i am … hate the fact that finding a decent library is such a daunting task in India.. One thing I liked about US is the public libraries … they are FREE…you can take upto 50-75 books in one go …and the books are in great condition.. !!! if you don’yt find a book in one library get it from the friends library !! great concept !

  16. Thoughts, when faced with lack of resources, we have to trade books, it would be such a waste not to do so? That is what friends are for.Tarun, there are so many other things that are not in my city, still, yeah jo desh hai mera… after all the country is still mine, with all its faults and treasures.

  17. You have pointed out a very important thing that’a amiss in our towns and cities. I spent close to 17 yrs in Gurgaon but never quite missed a library since our school had a gud one.. Later during my engg. in Jsr we had our own and a very good public libray maintained by TISCO. Now when I finish my MBA here.. I would surely face the same problem as u are facing.. *sigh*…

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I am Mridula Dwivedi, I love to travel! I started my travel blog in 2005. I have been going places since! For more details do check out my media kit! In another life I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur. I was a professor when I quit my job in 2015.

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