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  • I went to the mall to watch a movie with my friends. While, there isn't much I can say about the film itself but suffice it to say that we rushed out in the interval to get some strong coffee. As I approached the counter, I kept waiting for the display screen on top to show the complete menu. It was impossible to read the entire menu at one go before the screen flipped to advertise some fancy new item they were trying to push. Luckily there were two others in front of me that eventually let me get a quick glimpse of the entire menu. There wasn't enough time of course for deliberations, so when our turn came we just blindly ordered 3 coffees, two cold one hot, and popcorn. He rang up the bill which came to some 900 rupees. As I took my wallet out to pay, I couldn't containing my curiosity and abruptly blurted out more as a statement than a question “how can coffee be so expensive?” He replied without batting an eyelid that each cold coffee was 250 rupees. I jokingly asked a little aghast at his rather matter-of-fact-ness “it’s just milk right?” I wasn't looking for an answer but then he replied almost mockingly, that it was “Starbucks, it’s a brand” and added quickly “we don’t make the prices”. This completely threw me in a fit.

    I realized that he thought it was okay to shrug his responsibility by pawned it off as someone else’s. After all he was the one charging me for the coffee. I demanded trying to appeal to his conscience “how can you charge someone 250 bucks for a coffee, no matter what brand it is?’ I must have made him a little uncomfortable as I repeated it four or five times, the pitch of my voice steadily rising each time. Immediately, a manager appeared and offered that he could give me another brand “Georgia” that wasn't so expensive if I liked? I was just a nuisance, someone the manager wanted to quickly and quietly get rid of by any means possible. I didn't want to give him a chance to clear his conscience so lightly. I stuck with my order.

    I realized that nobody complained, a man was paying 4000 rupees for a tray full of food, probably to feed his family. By entering the theater we had waived off our rights to any kind of protest. It struck me as odd that we were allowing ourselves to be robbed blindly and unquestioningly. I wondered, if this man would pay the street vendor his asking price without a bargain.

    The ludicrousness of the situation just left me empty and feeling terrible about coming to the movies. The entire experience was so taxing, starting with the heavy traffic on the street entering the mall, the FULL signs at the parking entrance, forcing me to find a spot on the side of the road running the risk of being towed away, negotiating the stampeding crowd all the way through the shops to get to the theater and finally being locked inside a hall where you couldn't even bring a bottle of water, to then be at the mercy of the food counter all just for the simple pleasure of watching a movie on the big screen. The canned bottle of coffee left a bad taste and it really didn't help that the movie itself was mediocre, amateurish, pseudo intellectualism that lost the plot 2 minutes in, leaving me completely dejected and drained.

    I visited the market the next day and noticed that people just ambled along and bought vegetables without any complain, the old days of aunties haggling for every rupee worth and trying to get something extra were missing.

    Our conscience-keepers have vanished, we have opened the doors to immoral greed and everyone is too busy picking up their share to waste time complaining. Our acquiescence is our license to further our indulgence. A tit-for-tat game we are so engrossed in. We have created a secret society of the greedy and our congregation centers which we reverently call “the mall” are going “house-full.”
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