Wednesday, March 21, 2007

ze mall rats



all words as a rule are stimuli that trigger distinct responses. and for me, 'mall' is followed naturally by pavlovian thoughts of crowded escalators, neon lights, bright shop windows, sneakers squeeking on overpolished floors and the general din of humanity. in essence 'mall' for me has always meant - trauma. so why were we traveling some 6500kms across land, water and mountain to rendezvous with pearly j at a mall exactly?



my worst instincts were partially vindicated when at the appointed hour we arrived at the mall. some 8000 people were gyrating to the sounds of o-bey thy master! master! master! curious coincidence. but we'd just walked into the closing act and the ensuing brouhaha of the annual darjeeling carnival.



when the dust did settle a few hours and many misadventures later, i discovered 'mall' according to the dictionary alternatively means a public area set aside for pedestrian walks. in darjeeling they mean this and not that (forum, garuda, sigma, etc. on another note have you noticed the mall special BMTC bus?). here it's a biggish round clearing flanked on one end by a string of shops that show off overpriced trinkets and on the other by a deceptively gradual slope that disappears into the fog. trees poke out of the fog and red cheeked boys and girls run about when not giggling.



the mall is the best place to do the darjeeling do. that would be - nothing. sit around. sip on another cup of tea. hide from the world behind your newspaper. fight for more space on the standard government issue park bench. and think profound deep thoughts as you watch the cutest ever kid discover the simple joys of a skipping rope.





my first and last memory of darjeeling is of the mall. it will forever reside in a special place in my head. it's where you'd dig your hands deeper into your woolen gloves. contemplate another cup of tea in all earnestness. watch the horses trot across with another load of bong tourists. stretch your mountain weary limbs. yawn with the dogs.
you've arrived.




9 comments:

tangled said...

Have I mentioned I love your blog?

lwobbyrh, says word verification.

moonstruck said...

:)
I want to go.

Robin said...

ahh.... this is what a mall was meant to be.....

what say? another round of the favourite local sport, chickseeing?

Robin said...

p.s. i like these minimalist doses

duende said...

i'm game for another round. anytime. :) and bhutan soon....

Megha said...

never been
to darjeeling :|

nice :)

duende said...

bleargh! i want to go back. i left a momo behind.

roheen said...

aaaaaaaah......im LOCCAL....

Sylvan Goddess said...

Hahaha I left a momo behind! I feel your desperation to go back duende. I really do.

It was a really beautifully written post. It gave me a flavour of what that experience at the mall would've been like.

The hills in the North have malls too. They're usually long winding roads aptly and simply called "Mall Road". Ever since I saw those, I scoff everytime I pass by an "Ansal Plaza" or a "Kemp fort" or whatever it is. :)