In today’s world, malls are an inseparable part of a city’s ever-changing landscape. There was a time when shopping in India meant a mandatory visit to the bazaars or ‘haat’ and although that is still prevalent, mall have now found a permanent connection with the shopping experience. In fact, now malls are not even a place to just shop,they are where people go to rejuvenate, socialise and entertain.
But most importantly, malls are a superb representation of a city’s culture and ethos and are woven deeply into its local fabric. For a person who has newly moved to a city, a visit to the neighbourhood mall spells comfort even as it gives a stark glimpse of the city’s local culture. Food – the hallmark of a city’s identity – holds a pride of place in malls and is a big draw for outsiders new to a city. More and more mall food courts add local eateries to their repertoire in addition to popular fast food chains. This emphasis within food halls on local restaurateurs is because outsiders turn to malls to try local fares. Malls give them a feel of the city by offering the best of eclectic local dishes all under one roof and in delectable varieties.
It’s not just the food. Malls are also one of the best places to gauge the trends in local fashion. Even brands that satiate the wants and luxuries of shoppers from different walks of life give immense importance to local flavour and malls are the best setting to understand how this works. A visit to retail brands and stores inside malls can give a subtle glimpse into the preferred fashion, choice of colours, styles, clothing trends etc from that region. The best way for outsiders to understand a city’s fashion is to visit the nearest mall and look at what’s on offer. Many malls also provide space to local entrepreneurs who sell their creations – a lot of which is locally-inspired.
In other words, the new breed of malls is integrating so seamlessly into its local surroundings that it is one of the best places for an outsider to visit and connect with the city. Malls are also a great setting to give an outsider a feel of local festivals and the celebrations that mark the character of a city. Most malls hold special events during local festivals, put up sprightly decorations and create a happy and cheerful atmosphere. For outsiders, festivals are one of the best times to visit malls and adapt to the local culture, taste local delicacies and soak in the festive spirit.
Malls are also great spaces that give a peek into the diversity of a region with the presence of diverse retail options, competent infrastructure capable of actively engaging a visitor’s interest and events at regular intervals. For people who move to a new city from another city, malls are not just a shopping destination, but an alternate choice to amusement parks, public parks and even a community hub. They visit malls to spend time with their friends and experience a home away from their own homes.
Food: For outsiders who move to a new city, malls offer a beautiful glimpse of the variety that makes up the local cuisine of that place. They become a go-to place for a newcomer to try out new local dishes and enjoy sumptuous meals to their heart’s content.
Fashion: Malls are also a great place to check out the latest fashion trends that dominate the local tastes of a city. For an outsider, a visit to the nearest mall can give a correct understanding of what the city likes in terms of fashion.
Festivals: Every mall celebrates local festivals and occasions with great fervour and enthusiasm. For outsiders who often miss their own families during festivities, malls become a warm and welcoming place where they can visit to be a part of the fun.
Diversity: The diversity of a region finds solid representation in malls through the range of stores, brands, retail outlets and even entertainment options.
Shopping malls are like a mirror that give a clear glimpse of the local culture. They are community spaces and emerging public spaces that are ideal for spending time with family/friends and establishing a local connect.