Over the past few years, India’s big cities have sprouted malls by the dozen. And, in the absence of interesting live performances, stage shows or outdoorsy events to keep families busy in our cities, especially in our brutal summers, malls have become the must-do Sunday outing for most families.
On most weekends, visiting these malls is a test of patience that requires one to suffer impossibly inconvenient parking spots, inefficient air conditioning and multi-generational family groups that overrun your favourite restaurants. It’s a place I avoid like the plague on Sundays. But, I made an exception this Sunday to validate a gut instinct I had.
As Madhav mentioned Monday, Delhi Police put the nation’s capital region on high alert this weekend, saying intelligence intercepts had suggested terrorist groups were plotting an ‘imminent’ attack in Delhi’s crowded markets. Several swanky new malls are supposedly on their target list, and the US and UK have issued advisories asking their citizens to stay away from popular hangouts.
Terrorism is a real, not paranoid threat in India considering most of our critical urban centres, such as Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad, have repeatedly been victims of bomb blasts. But, it’s a fear I knew couldn’t keep crowds away. A popular mall in Noida, a Delhi suburb, which I visited was teeming with people (and policemen who diligently checked car boots and frisked bags). But, other than the more-than-usual police presence, little else was amiss.
I was proved right. Scaring us off isn’t all that easy.