Throughout my first week I got braver and more and more used to my surroundings. One day I decided to take a rickshaw to a shopping mall called Ishanya Mall that I’d seen on a map that I had. It is a about 2 miles away in an area called Yerwada, which is very near to where Tom works.
I crossed the road outside the apartment and walked a short way down the side road opposite and to a small auto rickshaw rank where about 10 drivers wait and chat in the shade of the trees.
I explained where I wanted to go and after some debate with them and by repeatedly showing them where it was on my map, the driver agreed to take me and told me to get in. I insisted on him using the meter though before I did.
The ride was lovely and cool; you get such a nice breeze, which is great when it’s hot and stuffy. However there were a few scary moments! We came on to a huge busy duel carriage way and had to turn right across all the traffic. The driver didn't seem to wait until it was clear, he just went, beeping his horn at all the other vehicles on the road! Some of the cars and bikes that we pulled out in front of had to screech to a halt and a few of them stopped about half a foot away from me! I was kacking myself!
The mall was brand new, massive and surprisingly situated on a suburban street in the middle of residential area. You would never have expected it to be there.
I journey was only 28 rupees but I gave the driver a 50 note and said to keep the change. Looking back I should’ve realised this was a bad idea because I now didn’t have any small change to get a rickshaw back, but at the time, I thought I’d just buy something and get some in one of the shops inside the mall.
All around the mall complex there was building works going on and it didn’t really seem that finished. I walked in through some large glass doors and discovered that the inside wasn’t finished either.
The mall was split on four levels so I decided to start at the bottom and work my way up. All the shops were selling furniture, paintings and / or soft furnishings; there was no sign of a clothes shop at all. The whole place was really empty as well, it felt like I wasn’t supposed to be in there. I was really disappointed because I was expecting a shopping complex like Lakeside or Brent Cross, it seemed big enough from the outside.
After looking in all the shops on the ground and basement floor, I decided to go up in the lift and see what was on the 2nd floor. I had seen a sign for a food court area and wondered if it was maybe up there. When the lift doors opened, I was greeted with an empty building site. Nothing on the floor was finished; there was rubble, tools, bricks, metal and wood everywhere! The thing that surprised me was that it was unmanned and I could've just walked out right into it all. If a kid had got into the lift and got out on this floor it could've been very dangerous, it was a health and safety nightmare! The 1st floor was exactly the same. I don’t know why they allowed the customer lifts to go up there if it wasn’t finished.
I eventually found where the food court was, you had to walk out a large side entrance on the ground floor down a short covered pathway to another section of the mall. When I got there, I was expecting lots of restaurants and cafes that you could sit in, but in reality there was one small cafe and a few drinks and snacks vans. It seemed to be all occupied by builders who were all sitting and chatting amongst unfinished buildings and on piles of rubble.
My experience at the mall was all a bit surreal; it was weird that there were shops trying to trade in the middle of an unfinished mall that was practically a building site. I don’t know how they make any money.
When it came to going home, I realised I didn’t have enough change for the auto! I’d have to walk back, or to the nearest shop! I was kicking myself for giving all the money to the driver and I had to walk for a good 25 minutes until I found a shop that could give me change. It doesn’t sound like a long time to be walking, but in the heat, it is a long time, even if you are trying to walk in the shade as much as you can.
I finally managed to get an auto back and it took only about 7 minutes which was good as I was dying to get home and out of the sun for a bit.
I learnt two important lessons from my experience at the mall; one was to not bother going back for at least a few more months, maybe until it was a bit more finished. The other was to always make sure I have enough change for an auto if I go out exploring far because it is not much fun walking a long way in the heat of the middle of the day.