From Madras to Manila

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to SM Mega Mall

Realising that 6 hrs of unadulterated (pun unintended) Desperate Housewives was beginning to make its impact felt in the form of rigor mortis in our eyeballs, Sandi and I decided to take our Desperate Limbs out for some exercise and fresh air in the climate-controlled environment of a nearby SM mall.

Shopaholics Delight

The SM Mega Mall is one kilometre of concentrated shopping mania that currently holds the record for being the largest mall in the Philippines and the third largest in the world. I say ‘currently’ because rumour has it that the Mall of Asia, under construction, is tipped to be about three times the size of this one!

That these malls, each about the size of a medium-sized asteroid, happen to be in this country is no accident. They are tribute to the average Filipino’s insatiable thirst to acquire anything and everything that is not actually bolted down and they are willing to pay in cash, by card or through direct debit to have the privilege of doing so.

Most Filipinos seem to have several cards, each with a truly mind-boggling credit limit, and are maxed out on all but one of them. The remaining one is to tide their family over till next payday - which is about 29 days away - when they will pay the minimum dues and promptly rush off to try on new clothes and mortgage a few family members.

[Note: Any Filipino will tell you that a revolver is a bad thing, but then they’re thinking about guns, not their credit line.]

The SM Mega Mall

The Mega Mall is an infinite expanse of ever expanding masses of gaseous matter where distances are measured in light years and time and space combine into a single four-dimensional continuum that… oh, sorry, that’s the universe.

But the Mega Mall is no different. It consists of five floors of shops, department stores, food chains, movie halls and entertainment venues with an ice-skating rink thrown in for good measure.

You can spend the day walking about its many bylanes and alleyways and still not find the appliances shop you were looking for, though you will come across Dairy Queen at least four times, of which it will be the same one at least twice even though you’re sure you are on a different floor. You can also spend many happy hours staring at a little ‘You Are Here’ arrow on the floor maps that seems to be in a different place each time even though you have returned to the same map.

And, depending on their marketing arrangements with SM, some of the shops pick themselves up and follow you from place to place, popping out when you least expect them till you buy something, anything, just to make them go away.

The SM Mega Mall is also an anti-gravity environment, in the sense that it seems to be against the idea of gravity and does not understand its effects on the average muscular system trying to cope with 22 kg of packages. There isn’t a bench, chair, stool, bump, raised mound or even an anthill in all the miles and miles of shiny corridor space they’ve provided. Even if there were, you’d probably be trampled to death by the crazed, lost, tottering, teeming masses milling around in the area. So perhaps the lack of seating isn’t such a bad thing, after all.

Still you soldier on in the hope that the promised appliances shop is just around the next corner till, dazed and exhausted, you drag yourself to the Food Court, staggering under the weight of all the useless merchandise you’ve purchased to exorcise the spectral stores.

And then, the circle is complete. Before you know it, the Food Court has taken over your mind and you’ve chewed, munched and sipped your way through a burger, fries, two Cokes, a Blizzard (large) and fudge cake and are reaching for popcorn till you are brought up short by the realization that

(a) you have no money left

(b) your wife is threatening to leave you if you stay any longer because the $%&@# appliances shop will probably never be found and she is #%$&^ if she is going to look at another $#%&@ map to try and locate it

Next time I’m bringing the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide!


  • Ha Ha ...maybe next time you just hitch-hike

    By Blogger Sumit, at 10:55 AM  

  • I am glad you got your priorities right and let go of the find-appliance-shop idea :)

    Next time, why dont you get yourself an electric scooter before setting off on such a jaunt ?

    Where would you get the scooter ? At the appliance store in the mall of course !

    By Blogger Vibhu, at 6:20 PM  

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