The early years of the century anticipated a huge consumer boom. Malls which came up in every odd corner of Mumbai were full of people on weekends, but there were few buyers for the expensive clothes and shoes which were displayed there. The crowds kept growing, and in months security began to restrict the number of people who could enter at a time. Eventually owners re-discovered the magic formula which would allow the malls to make money: add a food court, lots of stalls for snacks, and a movie multiplex. The optimism was slow to die. But now, two decades later, the rotting carcasses of malls litter the city.
The photos which you see here come from one such mall. The metal detectors in the entrance lobby are switched off, at night a single light illuminates some of the structures. The deserted central atrium is eerily lit by a strong floodlight. A palm tree still grows inside. I saw that there are a few guards on the property, they probably keep the tree watered. A couple of stalls outside the atrium were open for people who wanted a snack or ice-cream. There were customers to keep the businesses going. Everything looked closed inside the atrium, but on an upper floor a multiplex still did business, running six screens around the day. I wonder how long it will be before structural faults render the place dangerous. But in the meanwhile, it is a wonderful photo op.