Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Shopping in Bombay
Big Bazar was one of the first malls to be set up in Bombay a few years ago, in the area which used to formerly belong to a whole row of cotton mills which closed down. (Phoenix Mills compound as it is still called). At the time it was something to marvel at because it was one of the first supermarkets with trolleys like they have in shops in Europe. Till then shops tended to be rather poorly stocked and one had to depend on one’s visits abroad or to catch hold of friends going to Europe or America to bring back stuff you needed. But in recent years all that has changed and most of what is available outside India is also available here. You could saunter around for example, gazing at a variety of products ranging from kitchen ware to cosmetics and food. Our cook Asha was very impressed by it.
Today Bombay is crawling with malls and Big Bazar seems like a poor cousin compared to the fancier ones like "Atria" which Asha and I visited the other day, for kicks. Simbly. If nothing else we got an afternoon's worth of exercise strolling around the arcade. Much of it is still unfinished and whatever stuff is on sale is horrendously expensive. A lot of it was clothes. Jeans and tops and salwaar kameezes. The number of clothes shops never fails to astound me, for example around where I live there are hardly any good restaurants, hardly any good stationary shops or places to get down to earth stuff but - there are millions of shoe shops and clothes shops. You sometimes get the idea that in India the upper classes don’t eat food, they eat yards of silk and georgette and spangled jhig-mig saris.
Well, walking around Atria, Asha and I came across a store selling chairs. Reclining massage chairs. We decided to walk in and find out how much they cost and discovered that the cheapest one was like Rs. 90,000 and the price went up to Rs. 300,000. When the salesman tried to persuade us to just "try them out" Asha and I burst out laughing and slowly but surely backed out, saying we would definitely visit again. Like hell.
On the way down we joked about it. A small apartment in the suburbs would cost that much, we figured. I said to Asha, maybe we could turn the chair into a small portable apartment, you know, two people could squeeze themselves in the space under it and two could sit on it. It might just about hold a family of four. Asha loved that idea and cackled loud and long.