This is a weekly column centred on the city’s youth — what they do and don’t, how they spend their time, the trends they ride in on and those they let go of
Last week, when Meghana Susarla, a resident of Kilpauk, decided to get started on her wedding shopping, the first thing she did was post an array on questions on various Facebook pages. “From the best mehendi person for Arabic designs to the DJ who plays retro music in the city, people came up with many suggestions and numbers. I now have a lot to choose from,” said the 24-year-old who added that she even selected her wedding lehanga online after wading through over 100 suggestions.
Social media is increasingly more than a space to share photos and videos. It is a community which users fall back on for advice and information. The Chennai Food Guide on FB has over 30,000 members. The discussions range from “where does one get the best pani puri in Chennai” and “whether drinking barley water is advisable everyday” to exchanges on instagramed pictures of delicious-looking kozhukattai, recipes of tamarind sevai or chole bhature, and information on hotels serving vegan food.
The story is the same when it comes to finding services as diverse as photographers, hotels for children’s parties which also allow pets, or recently-launched clothing lines. Arpan Thomas, who came to the city two months ago, said he chose his gym based on suggestions on the Chennai Fitness Guide page.
Suvarna Rao, a mother of two, said she has been depending on Facebook for ‘purchase decisions’ ever since she posted a question on an ‘After school group.’ “Parents came up with the best piano classes for my son in my locality. It is better to trust fellow parents than advertisements or vendors who often exaggerate their products or services.”
But nothing is ever going to chase the essential shopping experience away, is it?
Gawking at glass windows, feeling the texture of silk between your fingers, sniffing the aroma of some heavenly body care products: no, that will definitely continue to exist, and give pleasure.
And when you have malls, that too, as many as this city has due to the boom over the last few years, it is easy to satisfy that craving. Couple that opportunity with a neat disposable income, and the mall hoppers emerge as a tribe.
Weekends have become days meant purely for outing for youth with malls being their favourite haunts. Come Saturday and Sunday, the numerous malls are filled with shoppers, mostly comprising youth.
B. Aishwarya is just out of engineering college and was recently hired by a bio-medical firm.
Her weekend is incomplete without a trip to the malls. “I go out with my friends mainly to watch films, eat out, and window shop,” she says.
Clearly, she has more entertainment opportunities than her mum’s generation, and the best part is they are all at one place – the mall.
But it is not just one mall for the weekend, it is often a couple of malls at least, quite the family version of ‘pub hopping’.
Only in a mall, Aishwarya says, they feel much safer.
And since they have been there so often, it feels nearly like home, she adds.
A spokesperson of a prominent mall in the city said that footfalls are more during weekends with some shops giving discounts.
His statistics tell him that on most days, the crowd is usually a combination of families and youngsters.
(Reporting by Vasudha Venugopal and R. Srikanth)