I love shopping. I wish I didn’t, I would be able to travel more. I inherited a deep need for retail therapy at a young age and can’t seem to shake it. After 6 trips to India I’ve experienced a number of different shopping venues along the way and I thought I’d do four part series on my second favorite pastime. In this article, I’m concentrating on malls.
The rise of malls in India has been fast and impressive. When I first visited Noida (a fairly large New Delhi suburb to the East) in 2004, their was one big mall in the area. On my last visit to Noida in 2009 those were 3. By 2013 my family had relocated to Mumbai and we must have visited 5 different malls in Mumbai alone.
Malls in India are expansive and can be far superior than what you might experience in the US (except maybe the Mall of America, but that’s another story). Malls have grown to fulfill the growing wealth of the middle class and have become an attraction for the whole family.
No mall is complete without food. You can usually find an extensive food court along with several restaurants inside. Again here you see Western brands, but the menus are uniquely Indian. A favorite of mine is the McVeggie at McDonalds while my husband loves the Paneer pizza from Pizza Hut. And we might sneak in to Mad over Donuts or Cafe Coffee Day (India’s version of the ubiquitous coffee shop ala Starbucks, including the free WiFi).
But what really makes the malls an experience is the attractions and amenities. One that pleasantly surprised me was the multiple (yes I said multiple) mother’s room locations. Rooms dedicated for a mom to change their babies and feed in private. Or simply for a pregnant woman to have a comfortable place to sit for a while. In the Mom and Me store, a new chain in India catering to mom and babies, they had a nursing room with My Breast Friend and Boppy Pillows for use, and a chart in the wall with instructions in different nursing holds and how to get the baby to latch properly. The mall mother’s rooms had private attendants who cleaned the changing table right after you used it. Anyone who has had to change their baby on a sketchy public changing table in a mall in the US would agree that this is an amazing feature.
Most malls have a play area (which is not always free). At the InOrbit Mall in Vashi (in the Mumbai suburb of Navi Mumbai) we went into one that had several Cozy Coupes, a small play structure with trampoline and a small slide. For the cost of $1, my son laughed and ran around for 1/2 an hour. Oberoi Mall in Goregoan East, Mumbai had a giant trampoline with a harness for flips. It also had a train that went around the top floor. (Though the train ride was strange, pumping in child friendly techno music). Several also have rides, video arcades, and plenty of toy and book stores. (Warning Western toys are very expensive. We had a giant meltdown when I walked away from buying a $30 plastic Thomas).
The mall is also great for people watching, especially in Mumbai. You really see the rapid rise of the middle class and westernization. My husband and I had a fun time spotting those who were on dates, seeing the teenagers shopping in groups , and the young families.
So, while the mall is the priciest place to shop, for high quality goods, entertainment for the whole family, and an amazing bird’s eye view at a society-at-large in transition, the mall is the way to go.
(To read the entire series check out the tag, Shopping In India)