May 25, 2015

Boycotting Malls?

A good friend posted on my FB wall that they feel sad/hurt/guilty... or whatever... when they visited malls - because Malls do not allow "Eashwaramma and Sasi and Kavya", who were depicted in an attached photo, to enter malls. 

How many of you will put up your hands on this one? I rarely go to malls. But if I do, I can never get this post off my mind.
Posted by Sangeetha Sriram on Monday, 25 May 2015

From what I could see in the picture they looked like they were villager/farmers... maybe even urban poor.

It set me thinking... some thoughts that struck me, as I replied, with the message below.

Malls have a purpose... like farms/villages do. They are both not the same.

Mall-ers rarely visit the farms so that evens it out in a way, I guess. I would rather that they do not visit farms. It would be too much for them to comprehend - I heard that one kid remarked "Damn! Grandpa, you torture your cows to get milk out of them - our milk comes in packets!",when he saw how cows were milked at his grandfather's farm.

Like someone mentioned above most hindu temples do not allow 'non-hindus' to enter - they have a huge board that says so. Most Mosques do not allow non-muslims. So what? Every place has it's 'members' and that is how things are. There are villages/towns/countries in India (and around the world) that do not allow people of other race/community enter... whatever the law may be - the complexity is in the practical enforcing of these laws.

If Gandhi (the original one) could change the perception of upper caste hindus and get them to allow 'harijans' into the temples... maybe it's time to have a 'sit-down' with mall owners and create awareness. I'm told that some farmers have more disposable income than IT professionals... Such 'statistics' from some 'world bank' report might convince mall owners!

Visiting a mall is not all there is in life... that is not the ultimate 'nirvana'. But, if the farmer/villager wants to visit a mall i'm sure he can ask some of the good-looking', 'well-to-do', nice folks in forums like this to accompany them... i'm sure the watchman will not stop them. I've seen lots of 'untouchable' looking people in malls. They just need to be dressed appropriately. After all these days 'looks' are everything.

It's easy for 'city slickers' like us to boycott malls... we have visited them at some point... and we've seen what they are all about... and we can think it's nothing, just a waste of time!

We can very easily take a stand to boycott it because we have 'been there done that' - but how is that going to address the aspiration of the villager/farmer?

I remember one farmer near Salem saying to us "It is easy for you to say that you do not like the city - you have lived in it's comfort all your lives. We want to live in the city too... where water comes out of taps... where 'current is there' (sic) all day... where colour-colour clothes are available!". All this came out of him when I said "I hate the city... I want to move to a village like this... the fresh air, the water from the 'pump-set', the colour of the earth... the flowers... the greenery!"

Like they say - "the grass is always greener... on the other side"

And lets not forget that the people who go to malls are the ones who have the money to buy the farmer's produce... along with their LED TVs, washing machines and smartphones.

Everyone has a purpose, everything evolves out of a need.

Go to a mall.... go to that organic store in the mall.... try and take a friend from the village with you (not every time... maybe every 3rd visit or so) so that he can experience everything that life has to offer... after that it is his call to aspire for it... or your call to boycott it!