Tuesday, August 9, 2011

City Centre Mall in Kathmandu

In a recent post I shared our experiences of going to see a movie in Kathmandu at City Centre mall, which is located near Dilli Bazaar, about a 15-minute walk from our home.

I had been in Kathmandu for months before setting foot in City Centre, and I was really surprised when I did. Before seeing the mall, I was not aware that Nepal had anything quite like this yet, and by "this" I meant something that looks lifted from suburban America. More and more places with this kind of modern feel are cropping up in the city, but for now it is worth noting that City Centre is an anomaly in Nepal.

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The mall is anchored by a large, open atrium, though the first thing you will notice is the pumping air conditioning, a rare treat in Kathmandu.

The second thing you will notice is the trampoline just inside the main entrance. Giddy kiddies line up for their chance to jump for joy (while safely in harness, of course -- I suspect some American-trained lawyer added this precaution).

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Escalators snake up to the food court, movie theater, and bowling alley on the top floor.

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Throbbing with pop music and Indian MTV on flat screens, the food court itself looks like something out of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, especially when bustling with the young and beautiful on a weekend night.

These photos not taken on a weekend night

The dining options might throw you off, though. This is not your typical American food court lunch.

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For those of you left unsatisfied by the impressive conventional movie theater housed in the mall, try the Fun Factory's multi-sensory 6D theater.

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Not enough? Check out the 8D.

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I won't be joining you due to some discomfort with imagining what an eight dimensional movie experience might entail. I only have five senses. That I know of.

In the restroom there are some helpful pointers posted above the men's urinals.

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I will go ahead and venture an additional etiquette suggestion: no taking photos in the men's restroom (yes, the room was completely empty when I did so).

As an American, I was only slightly offended by this advertisement:

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Fair enough. Most stores in the mall, however, are not "American Standard." In fact, the only name I recognize is United Colors of Bennetton. There is a knock-off Victoria's Secret, but otherwise the mall is filled with a mix of unfamiliar international brands and local Nepali stores. There is a self-proclaimed Australian-style cookie stand that sells really disappointing, charred, overpriced hockey pucks. If Nepal has accurately replicated your cookies, Australia, I feel bad for you!

The stores may not all be the same, but City Centre has nailed the American mall feel. As the husband of an urban planner, I am not thrilled at the thought of American malls as our export to the world. On the other hand, I am glad to see the presumed prosperity it represents in Kathmandu. Income disparities and other economic and social issues aside, seeing that there is enough disposable income in this city to support City Centre cannot be a bad indicator.

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