Sunday, September 25, 2011

Who needs to go to the Mall?

Sometimes I am quite amazed by what I can buy within walking distance (and I'm talking a very short walk here) from our house. These little shops on the side of the street are jam packed with merchandise and the owner knows exactly where to find everything very quickly.
The "fancy" stores sell a wide range of miscellaneous items - gift wrap (small selection and small pieces but it works!), hair clips, bangles, cricket cards..........The seller speaks good english and when I asks for something goes immediately to the right box/drawer/shelf.

The stationary shop, a tiny dark little cavern which has provided the necessary for a neuron cell poster (Ads), winter season poster and decorated recycled goods project (Wills) not to mention glitter, glue and marker pens.
One of several pharmacies within walking distances. The cupboards are packed with boxes containing hundreds of different meds, and there is a computerized index system. Anti-biotics come over the counter here. This is not only a pharmacy, but also a prescribing service. If you can mime a sinus infection you can get the meds! Luckily they have reasonable english so there's not too much miming necessary for any family gastro-intenstinal problem! If they don't have what you need they will order and deliver - no additional charge.
Clothes Indian style in all those wonderful colors - all you need is the tailor a little further up the street and you're away. There's even a small market selling psuedo-western clothes a  few yards further on.
Nilgiris is the local small grocery store where you can get most things, though a small selection - (a bit like a very very good British corner shop if they still exist!) The boys are pretty partial to Nilgiris as they have a good supply of Cadbury's and a baked section with samosas and chicken puffs. In true Indian style it is very well staffed. There is security at the entrance to relieve you of any unnecessary bags you may be carrying and exchange them for a token and another one on the exit to check you have a receipt which they will punch a hole in. The door is in good sight and close proximaty to the cash desk but that is not the point! As well as the staff on the 2 check outs there must be at least another 5 employees re-stocking or tidying and dusting the boxes, bottles and shelves, cleaning the floor etc.etc. What will happen when mechanisation takes over or these little shops are replaced by Target/Walmart or equivalent?
 Of course food is never far away, cooked to order or fast food?
We have our local KFC look-a-like. And what does the B stand for. I'd have guessed Bangalore or Basavanagar (the name of the road) but no, this is BIG BOY FRIED CHICKEN!!! - no comment!
Fresh produce is available on all corners 7 days a week. No excuse to eat unhealthily here! These little shops go on and on. In fact in Bangalore there must be thousands and thousands of them. I can also walk to get paint matched and made up, buy electrical goods, get a new watch battery, a phone charger for the car, dry cleaners and tailors, the newsagents who delivers our daily paper, hair and beauty salons for men and women etc.etc. If you want to buy you need an ATM. There are 2 very close by, both have their own security guards -even when they are not working which is all too often the case!
The ironing guy's place is also close by. As we walked passed taking these pics we could see a pile of Indus pants and shirts all crisp and ready to wear which arrived on the doorstep later that evening.
This is not however where I buy our meat. Next door to this store is the chicken store - as the chickens are still tenuously hanging on to life,  I prefer to buy mine, very dead, washed and wrapped at the grocery store!

So why do I go to the Mall? Well, sometime the local charms become a bit exhausting. Although I am getting better, crossing the road still takes a long time. The last stop before we get back to Vista is Tasty Bites, a chai stop and hang out for the locals, rick drivers and autos. I'm sure they stand there laughing at the length of time it takes us make the last dash into Vista! The endless stream of motorbikes, pushbikes, ricks, cars, trucks, carts all at different speeds, with unpredictable behavior patterns, many on the phone or chatting to their passengers make it seem like a life threatening operation to get across. If we are in town and Shankar is coming down the other side of the road from where I am waiting he will signal for me to stay put while he goes on to make a U-turn as he knows it is way quicker than waiting for me to cross the street! Also the incessant horn blowing, the smells both attractive and yucky, the uneven pavements and roads surfaces, the stray dogs, the trash, the open waterways......Sometimes the air-conditioned, cleanliness, order and relative calm of the Mall beckons!

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