Shopping in Bangalore

Bangalore has a new shopping mall. Much to the joy of the high-street shopper, Phoenix Market City in Whitefield, the Gurgaon of Bangalore, brings well-loved brands like Zara to the city for the first time. More important, its well-planned 11 lakh or so square feet of retail space could change the way we in Bangalore shop.

Unfortunately, malls in this hi-tech city are neither high on tech nor on design. In their claustrophobic confines, you could go round and round and up and down looking for a store and never find it. And God forbid if you have to go to the bathroom. (And no, the rich-and-ridiculous Greco-Roman corridors of Mallya's UB City don't qualify as a shopping mall to anyone who doesn't own a cricket team.)

Phoenix changes all that--with its thoughtful nappy-changing rooms, concierge services and information desks, its somewhat preposterous eight-screen multiplex, and most of all, its horseshoe-shaped structure whose balconies and façade lead up to open, green, outdoor spaces with fountains around which shoppers can relax, chit-chat and grab a bite. Which, believe it or not, is unheard of in Bangalore, the so-called garden city of India.

"Don't bother pushing any doors. It's someone else's job," says a welcoming advertisement at the mall. "With nine atria to cover, make sure your stilettoes don't hurt," says another. A particularly pompous one claims you would not have heard of most of the brands here, and then some. Despite its pretensions of grandeur--on one of its gleaming corridors, a pianist entertains with a soothing melody; on another, a fish spa welcomes you to try its services--Phoenix Market City isn't really for the Gucci-and-Prada-toting clotheshorse. It's for the working man or woman in Bangalore who no longer has to suffer the drudgery of shopping at a poorly-planned mall.

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