Pune needs to stay awake later – at least, its commercial establishments do. Even today, after Pune’s shrugged off its ‘retirees’ heaven’ tag, most shops close between 8:30 to 9PM. For someone who’s spent two decades and more in Mumbai, this is shocking.
The other day, we decided to visit Pune Central (article about Pune Central’s launch), Pantaloon’s latest mall here. A lot of native Punekars had recommended this place highly. Well, we pulled up outside Pune Central about 8:55PM. There are three entrances and one exit. The entrances were blocked by red tape (no, really, red tape!), leaving only the exit open. When we asked the guards where the parking lot was, they pointed to the exit and told us that the mall doesn’t take in shoppers after 9:00PM, and closes at 9:30PM! We couldn’t believe our ears!
I mean, Pune Central is a decent-sized mall. Smaller than R-Mall at Mulund in Mumbai, but still fairly large. And it’s very brightly lit up and all that. But why bother with all the lighting if you’re going to shut down the moment it’s dark? In Mumbai (or for that matter any major cosmopolitan city), crowds would start coming in by 10:00PM. A mall like Pune Central ought to consider closing by 1:00AM or so.
The people of Pune are now prepared for the onslaught of ‘new-age’ commercialism, of the kind that hit Mumbai about 6 years ago. But clearly, Pantaloons doesn’t seem to have realised that – and it isn’t the only one. Given the opportunity, there are enough yuppies in Pune to continue to throng its malls, shopping arcades and parks well after midnight. So why shut down at 9:00? For God’s sake, that’s when most of the young working population returns from work! Wake up, Pune, and stay awake longer!