Sunday, January 22, 2006

In Mumbai

Two incidents at the Inorbit Mall in Malad, Mumbai.

Incident 1: I am on the escalator, going up. I am walking up the escalator to get to the top faster, and this security person stops me from doing that, saying its not allowed. Earlier, I noticed that when a bunch of people were coming down on the escalator, the people who wanted to go up were made to wait till all the people coming down had come down. Well, what exactly is the point in having 2 escalators if you are going to operate only one of them at a time?

Incident 2: I walk into the Adidas showroom when this chap asks me if I need some help. I tell him I'll let him know when I need his help and start looking around. The guy follows me everywhere. I don't say anything. After a while, I spot a pair of Levi's jeans that I like, and I check out its size. The guy again asks me if I need any help. He is still standing behind me as if I need some chaperoning. The following ensues.

Me: Dont you leave your customers to look around by themselves?
Him: We are required to assist the customers.
(Fair enough!)
Me: But if someone wants to be left alone, why do you have to stick around making him uncomfortable?
Him: You touched the jeans like this (proceeds to touch the jeans) and this clearly shows that you need assistance.
(Einstein himself couldnt have come up with something better!)
Me: I was just checking out the size, I can do that myself and I do not need you to tell me the size.
Him: That is not the way to talk to a CSR.

At this point, I just walk out of the store.

In both incidents, the people working at this mall behave as if people visiting the mall are totally dumb and need to be told what to do. Like how to use the escalator, and how to check the size of a pair of jeans.

I tried to think of reasons for this behaviour. I remember reading a report about how a child's shoe got stuck at a Delhi mall and the child was crushed to death. Then there was this incident at Heathrow where a woman's sari got stuck in the escalator and the sari just came off! Its understandable if the people at the mall are worried about such incidents. But it still felt like an over the top reaction.

As for the second incident, there are no electronic checks to make sure people cannot simply walk away with stuff from stores without paying. But then the security guards are placed at the entrance precisely for this very reason. The other thing is that despite the prices and sizes being put in prominent labels, many people prefer to ask the employees the very same details. No kidding, I have seen that happen quite a few times. But the continuous monitoring from close quarters was still uncalled for.

Basically, I still have not understood what caused that behaviour. Is it simply a policy of not letting the customer be? I have heard from others about similar experiences, though none of them really minded it. Maybe I am just used to the chilled out behaviour at the US malls. But then again, such incidents did not occur at the other malls in Mumbai that I went to.


Ganesh said...

hai sailesh
U seem to have analysed the situation from an americal angle. Wonder how much we indians change after being out of the country for a couple of months.Understand that in India where ever u have safety rules, rarely are they followed strictly. We only wakeup after a tragedy and try to fix the blame.We rarely give credit to the person trying to implement a safety rule if it infringes on your time, which otherwise u r whiling away in a Mall.Have u ever thought of the number of people who have experienced an escalator for the first time. In America it may be the norm, here it is an exception.Years ago an escalator was insatalled in Girguam Chowpathy in Mumbai for pedestrian crossing. It broke dowm in two months since people used it as a tourist atraction and was always jam packed with guys going up and down.The complaint about only one escalator in operation would have been appreciated if only u cared to ask why ther second one was non-operational.They might have had a real reason. Atleast I am happy given that situation there was someone to control the situation and it calls for an appreciation.
Regarding your comments on intrusive presence of the sales guy in the mall, we in India are exposed to this mall culture only recently.It takes these guys to change their outlook from a retail counter sale where personal attention is a must to a display sale like in a mall where such a thing would amount to intrusion. MOst guys in India would like tp be attended to,probably it pampers their egos. If u r allowed to chill, it would Probably amount to dis intrest in selling.Sailesh ,please get used to be Indian atleast when you return ti India.

Sailesh Ganesh said...

I agree I may have analysed it from an American angle. However, escalators in malls have been in operation in India for a few years now and you would have thought people have seen them enough to stop being over-awed at them. When you talk about a situation that was being controlled, I do not see what the situation is, that requires it to be controlled. As far as I could observe, the people had no problems in using the escalator, and there certainly was no rush of people waiting to use it.

About the sales guy, I did mention in my post that he was probably under instructions to attend to the customer. Sure, go ahead and help all you want and pamper the egos of the customers. My complaint is that when I asked him to be left alone for a bit, he refused to, stuck around like a leech and generally made a fool of himself with the wierdest of comments.

Again, both these incidents were probably one-offs, so that makes it perplexing. I wonder if we are making a mountain of a molehill here, I only wrote this post because I couldnt think of anything else at the moment.

About being Indian, I wonder if being Indian requires one to be uncomplaining about anything. An year and a half abroad certainly does change the attitudes a bit, but I wonder if the small (but mostly irrelevant) changes amount to "not being Indian anymore". I always thought being Indian meant having a sense of pride about the country, respecting and cherising Indian values anc culture, and making an effort to help in the betterment of the country (This, I suppose is a western way of thinking :D)

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