The Lulu Mall is a glitzy monstrosity spanning 17 acres of gleaming marble floors and unearthly quiet. After weeks running around in the heat, grime and incessant lawn-mower groan of a hundred three-wheeled rickshaws all suggesting a ride, it was honestly a bit eerie to step into the air-conditioned peace of a mall. It’s only been open since March, and the whole thing feels as brand spanking new as the fancy watches and gold-encrusted saris for sale.
Along with a nine screen movie theater, a bowling alley, a small amusement park, and an ice skating rink, Lulu’s features a huge hypermarket. Hyper doesn’t describe just how over the top enormous it is. Maybe I just haven’t been inside an indoor grocery store in awhile, but I was overwhelmed by the 25,800 square metres (278,000 sq ft) just full of stuff people eat.
|Last shot before I was told no pictures allowed. Not even of produce.|
The durian was easy to spot through the crowds, although it seemed sorely neglected compared to the unripe guavas next door. Nobody even took much notice of the foreigners shaking and sniffing the fruit, something that would usually draw a crowd of disbelieving onlookers. We did get a few stares, and the produce manager told me not to take any more pictures.
We picked out our durian, a sad looking specimen from Thailand. The most interesting thing to me, besides the fact that there’s a demand for durian in India at all, is that the durian was fresh, not frozen. I’d never tasted a fresh imported durian. At 529 rupees a kilogram, the durian cost more than three times what we pay for a hotel room. Was it worth it?
We didn’t bring a knife, so we improvised with the key fob from our hotel room. Luckily we have plenty of practice getting into a durian without a knife (Check out Seven Ways to Open a Durian Without a Knife).
Somehow, two foreigners opening a durian in the food court of a very posh mall still didn’t draw any attention. Anywhere else, we’d have security guards rushing us to the door and a crowd of well-wishers reminding us to not drink alcohol.
But then, we were right next to the ice skating rink. Watching grown up men try to skate for the first time is probably entertaining enough. I thought it was amusing.
It was by far not the prettiest durian in the world. The shell was mottled pink with some kind of weird mold. It wasn’t fresh. But it was a durian that tasted nice. Not strong or dance-in-my-mouth delicious, but smooth and creamy and nice. And sometimes, that’s all that matters.
That, and being out on a date with my favorite person.