Friday, September 14, 2007

Not quite risen from the ashes

Went out to the oldest "mill-turned-mall" -- High Street Phoenix, formerly the Phoenix Mills -- for the first time tonight, for beer and dinner. I was expecting something that looked more like a mill (sort of the way Tate Modern still looks like the old power station). But at least in the dark (courtyard poorly lit), it looked to me like a cross between a strip mall and a maze. I feel they should have kept signage and lighting in tune with the maze/mill look, and stayed away from the strip mall look. True to Mumbai, much of it is still/again under construction and/or makeshift-looking. Just boggles my mind how no project is ever completed in Mumbai. And how we have not yet mastered the basics of landscaping and construction, so that even outside the Nine West and other fancy global stores, a simple kerb or corridor will be shabbily paved -- steps are uneven, surfaces are not aligned (there is suddenly a very low step or a "speed bump" at, say, a corner, where none should be, and the corner is preferably dark, to improve the chances of customers breaking their necks or at least pulling a hamstring), a sign pointing to the restaurant you're looking for will lead you to a creepy-looking corner (dark and under construction, of course).

I'm not saying a shopping mall should look like a modern art museum. I'm saying a building or complex must be sensitive and true to its past and present. Phoenix Mills could have been so fantastically Mumbai, but it isn't. Instead, it's Generica-meets-Lajpat Nagar.

The main entrance to the Tate Modern, the turbine hall of the old power station.

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