Saturday, April 03, 2010

Confessions of an unshopaholic

‘There are only two things which are certain in Dubai – malls and mallus’. Have you heard of it? I’m guessing not, since I came up with it, only a little while ago. Let me substantiate by dwelling on the former initially, before narrating an interesting anecdote about the latter.

Nowhere in the world is retail therapy practiced as much as in Dubai. There are malls located all over the city, and outside. All of them have a large number of glittering, well-lit, well-designed shops stocked with a bewildering array of goods. Just to make matters interesting, each mall has a different theme - one has a ski slope, one is Pyramid-shaped and one has a Tower of London replica. In fact, the world's largest mall (located near the world's tallest building) has the world's largest aquarium, where you can interestingly practice your mall-dives.

To give you more detail about the shops in a mall, let me detail the shops found in the world's largest mall.

There are
• 34 fashion, accessories - If you imagined a small, box-like shop selling bangles and such-like, perish the thought. Think Louis Vuitton. And 33 other high-end names.
• 55 fashion, children
• 23 fashion, arabic
• 2 fashion, bridal
• 16 fashion, lingerie
• 2 fashion, maternity
• 26 fashion, men
• 7 fashion, tailors and textiles
• 71 fashion, women

And just in case you hadn’t found what you wanted, there are still
• 94 fashion, general showrooms

In addition, there are
• 47 footwear
• 55 watches and jewellery
• and 167 gold shops.

Bear in mind these are not your Palika bazaar type small shops; these are large shops of the biggest brands, in the most contemporary of designs. And yes, these shops are generally buzzing with activity.
To elaborate how big the opening of a shop is, listen to this story.

Two weeks ago, as I was randomly walking around the mall, I noticed a huge crowd of cheering, hooting people in front of a store. They were craning their necks, trying to look ahead, and many of them were taking photographs and videos. I questioned a few people around me but nobody had any idea what was happening. A security guy told me it was a store opening but didn't know anything more. I was extremely intrigued and wondered what store would get a huge crowd like this, and pushed forward. I asked some camera guys what they were taking pictures of, and was met with a shrug of their shoulders.

There was this pretty but not very intelligent-looking North Indian Female a little behind me, and I decided to ask her, not imagining she would know, but hoping that perhaps this could lead to coffee, my hotel room, etc etc.

Imagine my surprise when she said "Iconic store is opening"
"So what does Iconic sell?"
"Splash" With a look that said Duh! How could you not know that
"And what's splash?"
"Clothes" Followed by another look that said Duuuuuh! Don't you know anything

Just then, an old Indian businessman entered the area, surrounded by security, and he got a rock-star like reception. He looked to be the VIP, and went on to open the store.
Curious to learn his identity, I asked her. With the alacrity of a Mitesh Agarwal identifying a big biz dude, and the air of erudition of a Navin Jayakumar, she replied - 'Micky Jagtiani.'
"Oh ok" ( Knew him, but couldnt recognize)
"... , of Landmark Retail" She walked away with a frown, evidently considering me to not having the most basic knowledge in life.

I beat a hasty retreat feeling very mall indeed.
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And now to get to the other burning issue of the day…

I often pass a restaurant called Pathan's, quite close to my house. With a name like Pathan’s, I had naturally assumed it served North Indian cuisine, replete with Red Drapes by the Dozen, Ghee by the Gallon, Buttermilk by the bucket and Dal by the DLF maximum. Never being in the mood for anything so rich, I had always opted for the slightly more distant Sangeetha or Saravana Bhavan. Incidentally, why do all north Indian hotels here have a red d├ęcor? Something to do with the higher literacy levels, perhaps? Higher literacy levels, so their hotels are red. But I digress.

The other day, as I passed Pathan’s, I read that it served vegetarian south Indian. I went in, and ate a good dosa with the most amazing thakkali chutney. I asked the receptionist, a mallu down to the last olan, kolan and rolan of his being, why the name Pathan's?

In all seriousness, he replied "It's a shortened form of Padmanabhaswamy'

What an awesome name origin!