August 01, 2004

Greenhills: In the Belly of the Beast

In Thailand, there is an open market called Chatuchak. It is famed all over SEAsia and probably all over the world in which tourists, young and old, rich and poor, go there to purchase cheap knock-offs and overuns and to rub shoulders among the natives. It must be one exhilarating experience to enter and be devoured into the cavernous maw where your senses are frequently assaulted with exotic sweaty smells, colorful sights, raucous noise and the temptation to dive into the fray and haggle with the merchants. There your budget is on the red and if your common sense does not reign in your impulse, then your wallet can go bye bye sooner than you think.

An experience in Greenhills is probably as near the one in Chatuchak. The only difference is the air conditioning. I observed there that the place was set-up according to the merchandise. The atrium was filled with clothes of every kind- from sarongs to printed T-shirts, from pants to socks. The place was so jampacked that you have to squeeze yourself right through the crowd. I even stepped on the foot of one of the saleslady- that's what she got for wearing open-toed sandals. The mezzanine meanwhile is filled racks upon racks of cellphones of every brand and color. This is compounded by Muslim urchins prodding you to buy bootlegged DVDs harking "DBD, boss? DBD?" In another corner, there were countless stalls of cheap jewelry- most of which looked like plastic beads anyway. Most of the sellers are Muslims. I don't know why that is so though. In Virra Mall side, the whole place is full of CDs, pirated software of any kind, computer parts, and collectibles which can bring anyone with the shopping bug into virtual orgasm. Everything your imagination desires is here.

The whole place looked like a big termite colony. You can see flow and counterflow, traffic sans altercations and bumper to bumper congestion. A claustrophobe nightmare. The funny thing is that there were a number of foreigners haggling over bags and jackets, trying on rip-off Nikes, rummaging through the clothes and rubbing elbows with the Filipinos. It's as if they turned our shopping playground into another secret tourist destination. For adventurous "National Geographic" tourists and foreigners out for a bargain, then, this is the best place to be- all in one roof. Some even brought their children. Must be expats. Just imagine them being so sensitive to their travel advisories that they ignored it got enough spunk to go into Greenhills. To think there are Muslims in every stall and that there is a chance that a terrorist can blow up the place or hold them hostage. But like life in the fatalist Philippines, hell may come over basta we get to shop. The government should take notice about this sight, so they can be encouraged to put up more shopping areas emulating Thailand's premier entrepreneurial paradise- Chatuchak. If not, I hope the private sectors like travel agencies hopefully shall put the shopping experience of Greenhills on their brochures. If not, then we shall remain in the belly of the beast.

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