Parking lot outside the shopping mall.

Shopping mall

Malls in India are
far from your typical American shopping experience

Dr. Joseph, our guide, wanted us to experience an Indian mall today. I must say that it was an experience. More or less, the mall was just an enclosed marketplace. You are still expected to negotiate a bargain when you purchase something. Nothing is marked with a set price. I always feel terrible when I get a good deal because I cannot stop thinking about how much more the vender needs the few extra Rupees than I do.

I was surprised how many Westernized stores there were. The Indian culture is full of such variety. You see someone dressed in Western attire walking side by side with another person outfitted in traditional Indian dress. I think that this speaks to a rich diversity accepted and cherished nationally by many.

There was a food court at the mall which we ate dinner at. Being that I could go for some non-Indian food at this point, I thought Subway would be a safe choice. Let's just say that it was not quite what I was expecting. The meat choices were very different. They were mostly in some sort of paste form. There were also veggie spreads and other unidentified substances too.

The power kept going out as usual. It was so strange to be in a huge mall in the dark. No one except for us seemed to give it a second thought. They just went about their business as if nothing had happened. It was a reminder that even in such a Western atmosphere, I was certainly still in India. I wonder if it is because of these constant power outages that there were so many security guards. I must add that the guards were dressed in funny, adorable uniforms complete with a hat and tall white boots. Maybe they are there to prevent shoplifting in the dark.

We were accompanied to the mall by Mrs. Gopinath, a professor at Madras Christian College. It was so neat to talk with her. I have a very different perspective on Indian women now. Stereotypically, I have always thought of them as very submissive and quiet. She, however, was very educated and had many opinions. We talked about her children, her teaching career, and even her views on politics. Although I recognize that Mrs. Gopinath is somewhat of an exception in India, this does not change the fact that there is so much potential in so many people. It is devestating that so often this potential is underestimated, ignored, or completely forgotten. Everyone could benefit greatly if we listened to everyone and allowed them to take pride in their own voice.

Barbara Koehl

University of St. Thomas

St. Paul, MN 55105

Links checked Dec. 12, 2009

Copyright © 2009 Barbara Koehl