“MALL”, in my view, stands for man’s affair with leisure love. America has the final say in entertaining and wooing consumers. An affair is usually short-term, so a Mall must constantly innovate. Leisure is no longer a by-product while consuming; so a Mall needs to package the leisure theme well.
Shoprite, Bed-Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, Staples, Beejays, Target can as well be names of family and friends. We talk about them as much and with same passion. Possibly legacy of the cave man who always dreamt being surrounded by plenty. Maybe legacy of the Imperial Era so fond of accumulating the world products, now in the avatar of globalisation. I enjoyed the activities at these household places and made it a point watching people and their passions for things.
I got my stationery from a grocery giant and with a little perseverance, the Asian exotic food too. I got a wine decanter from Bath & Bed seller and looked for lamp fittings but was surprised with food books at a house builder. A specialist these days does some odd generalisation also.
And then at Staples, I like those odd things in corners at almost ready to give away prices. I feel guilty buying my favourite things, at first and like many, go back and buy after shoring up enough conviction & courage. Its becomes a fun game now and I’m sure the camera at the store must have captured my reactions the first time and predicted how soon I would return.
There is this leather cap that I have left for next time; maybe the vender saw me encircle it several times and thought the deal was inevitable. But he miscalculated my patience; the deal could have been closed with a bit of bargaining which I left for some other day. Hope I see it again and not miss that other one last time.
The Newport Mall nearby was a treat. Multilevel with multi entry-exits, theatres, eating places (my special Cheesefactory), kids areas and lounge/massage chairs for the regulars and those compelled to accompany the shoppers. Macys, Kohls, Sears, J.C. Penny were like guard towers and a host of Sketchers, HNM, Dollar Store were splashed all over.
I loved the walk to the station through the Mall, especially on early mornings and late nights. It always welcomed you with music and lights. Like the movie “Terminal”, it gave you a sense of a temporary home. The newness of the Newport area of Jersey city raises hopes for the deteriorating state of US infrastructure (awarded only passing grade by association of civil engineers). I would like more greenery among the concrete structures though.
Sitting on a bench outside the Mall with a coffee , I watched the regular office-goers ; the evening rush reminded me of the humanity (me included) rushing to catch trains at the Churchgate and VT stations. With nostalgia and freedom, I saw them; most with earphones and Starbucks in hand, learning, experimenting meeting deadlines and forming opinions and relationships.
Young mothers, old parents and transit-tourists lined the malls during odd hours. They had their regular places and many kept company and exchanged notes. There were many “discount and special offer” storytellers circulating with a few chipping in with goings-on in Manhattan and New Jersey stores, too. Memories of bygone sales and Black Fridays were related with passion and soulful tears .
I envied the job of the Mall’s security supervisor; with open eyes and ears, he could capture the greatest experience of an urban village and mingle with the minds of young, ageing, addicted, lonesome with diverse activities, colours, occasions and at leisure, wonder at the designs and doings of mankind.
And I liked our own D-Mart and Patel Brothers competing; in their unique way meeting the needs of those who have settled so far away and preserved their identities .