I’m Uninvited at the Shopping Malls (and how we can solve this)

Shopping malls can be as boring places as happening they were intended to be. “Seasonal Sales” in clothing section is what makes them boring for me. I know, right? Do you have raised eyebrows and twitching forehead at the blasphemy I just blurted?

 

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This is not me at a shopping mall, but it is pretty close. The only reason I don’t have a similar photo of myself is that there is no one to click it for me. (Also, because I don’t have a kid yet).

Now before you decide to close this tab cursing me under my breath, let me explain. I shop for things when I need them. Neither before, nor after. While this keeps my spending in check (and I could care less about that), it also gives me the sense of using something that we like to call “common sense”.

For instance, a month ago, I needed a pair of denims, so I went to this shopping mall, walked over to 34 inches section, picked up three pieces, tried them on, selected one trivially, and went on my way. The most time consuming process was the payment counter. Don’t get that wrong, there is nothing wrong in buying stuff that you don’t need, but the minimal person that I am, it becomes a major offence for me. What makes matters worse for me is the fact that my roommate Vikky is a big shopping buff.

How big, you ask? Here’s something for you feelers. If Vikky is confused between 3 trousers, chances are, he will buy all three to resolve the tiff (no exaggeration here). But that would be fine with me if he had not spent about an hour debating about the pros and cons of each with me, and with people over phone.

So, we have a shopping mall five minutes walk away from our apartment. There is this whole section of clothing in the mall, which I like to call the “Black Hole” because once we go in there, we are there for like forever.

I have nothing against shopping malls. But I always go to the malls with company. I would like to spend more time at the food court actually eating, rather than browsing clothes that my eating habits would not allow me to fit in. I would like to spend more time browsing gadgets and contemplating how many dinners I might have to skip before I can afford that 100-inch “LXD” TV (although I cannot skip any). I would like to spend more time OUTSIDE the mall where I can get some non-recycled air.

I recently bought a smartphone (and launched a mobile app as well, but more on that later) and it has tremendously helped me survive ordeal I spend at these places. But, Indian malls don’t have a lot of sitting space other than at food courts. Apparently, they don’t want people to stay there for long. They want people to quickly browse through stuff, pick up what they like and get the hell out. Why else would they not have lots of chairs for people like me who hate having to stand purposelessly? So, although I have the luxury of doing what I like anywhere, I cannot do it while relaxing as comfortably as I would like to.

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I dread my future wife might leave me to deal with similar situation, so I have made myself familiar with some good smartphone activities, mostly games and surfing the web. This person still looks pathetic, though.

The crux of this post is probably the most irrelevant of any post I have written till date, but it really expresses what more I would want out of shopping malls. I would summarize them in following brief points.

 

3 Feature Requests in all Indian Shopping Malls

 

– 1. Brain Activity Scanner and Segregator (BASS) at the Entrance –


This device is handed to the person who hovers metal detector over your body at the entrance. (S)he hovers a coil over your head which suggests if you are a shopper or not. If you’re not a shopper or not particularly in shopping mood, you’re immediately seized and made to enter an X-Ray-Machine-resembling entrance of a portal. Your shopper mates go the normal way. Non-shoppers are led into this place where they have lots and lots of chairs and couches, books, and mobile-tablet charging points.
Potential Benefits: Number of people avoiding shopping malls will come down. If non-shoppers like a book or two, they might buy them. The shoppers can actually spend more time shopping.
More sales, check ✔
More people, check ✔
Happier faces. check ✔

– 2. Comfortable Seats Everywhere –

Technical glitches happen all the time. I will believe that our systems are flawless the day I have spent a year in my office without a single JVM crash (or the day my girlfriend stops complaining about how slow her smartphone is, whichever comes first). So, our immaculate ‘BASS’ system is also subject to flaws. In the unfortunate incident that a BASS terminal basses out on me, I would like to have comfortable seats where I can even take a quick nap when Vikky decides to max out all the credit cards that he and I collectively own.
Potential Benefits: Same as previous point.
Reliability, check ✔

 

– 3. Asynchronous  Random Response Generating Hoop (ARRGH…!)-

This one is the best! There might be times, when you want to be there for your friend when he decides outfit for his first date, or when your spouses buy dresses for their family weddings, etc. The ARRGH system lets you do that without having to!

This revolutionary system does just what its name suggests. It’s a hoop you put around your shoulders, and it generates random affirmative and exclamatory responses for you without you being bothered by your shopaholic friend. There would be ARRGH booths at all floors; you can simply pick one up, and put your head into one of those sweet transparent rings, and forget about anything else. Here is how a sample communication would go.

Vikky (to me): You think this tee-shirt is worth a buy?
Me: *activates the ARRGH and it takes over the conversation*
ARRGH: (taking over the communication, nods) Yeah, it looks cool, man!
Vikki: How about the pink one with yellow stripes we saw earlier?
ARRGH: Go with it!
Vikki: But there you said it was cool! I’m asking about that one.
ARRGH: Yeah, man, totally!
Vikki: Do you think it makes me look gay? I’m straight, and I don’t wanna look gay, buddy!
ARRGH: Of course, go for it!
Vikki: Wait, are you wearing one of those ARRGHs?
ARRGH: (detects the usage of the word ‘ARRGH’ ) What? Are you kidding me? (brilliant AI, quick response)
Vikki: Thanks, man! I’ll buy that, and the skinny shorts you recommended an hour ago!
ARRGH: It totally suits your taste!

Vikki out.

Potential Benefits: Friends offer you good advice, and ARRGHs offer you even better! Shopaholics will end up buying things that look funny, thus giving rise to a new trend in the fashion industry. I can already envision the best Bollywood designers buying ARRGHs to make their color scheme decisions for them.
New trends, check ✔
No hassle, check ✔
Friends remain friends, check ✔
Increased sales and faster decision-making, check ✔

So, there you go! Better shopping malls in Three Easy Steps

________

Serious side-note (although it appears at the bottom instead of appearing on the side)

Technology, I believe, has the potential to solve the most complicated of problems. Being an engineer and a problem solver at heart, I like to take up random problems I face every day, think of hypothetical solutions to them, and see how it goes. If I do come up with good solutions, I turn them into inventions. If not, I muse about them here.
In our lives, we have to make many trivial uninformed decisions, each alternative of which can be highly consequential. 50% of the times, the decisions might go wrong, since they were trivial to begin with in the first place. I have seen people blame themselves for trivial bad decisions. Let us understand that there are no bad decisions, they become wrong only in the hindsight.

It would be great to have an ARRGH system to put blame on for those!

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