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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Visit to Mantri Square

       With a lot of hype and a grand launch of the country’s biggest mall – MANTRI SQUARE , namma bengaluru has just got itself yet another landmark to boast of. So, my friends and me decided to go check it out and see whether its worth all this hype.
       If you’re in a hurry, skip to the “Conclusion” right away.
       We preferred public transport to private ones because the mall is at the heart of the city and well connected with buses. It is at Malleshwaram, Sampige Road. So we first went to Majestic and buses leave to this place from Majestic Bus Station,Platform number 20. Virtually any bus from this platform would go via MANTRI. In about 25 mins from Majestic, we reached the mall.
       From the outside it does look huge but you can only perceive the actual size of the mall once you enter. They have a Lower Ground Floor(LG), Upper Ground(UG) and the 1st,2nd and 3rd floors. We started with the lower ground floor. The main attraction here is the huge Spar mall. Spar seems to have covered most of the place in the LG floor and also seems to be well organized. There are other stores too, mostly fashion accessories lik SHOWOFF. But they’re comparitively small. Then there is some mouth watering Gelato being served here. Not to forget Kalmane Coffee Shop to refresh you in case you stepped in after a bad night’s sleep! Then we took the escalator to the UG floor.

       This has a variety of stalls. The main attraction for women would be the free cosmetic trials from Lakme and Revlon. There is sort of an open stall on this floor and a lot of women who probably spent hours painting their own face to make it glossy white. :P Anyways, I could sort of guess some common treatments like facials being done here. There were also cosmetic stores and a few perfumes and women couldn’t stay away from this place. One of my friends(a guy,not mentioning the name) did want to try out something interesting lik hair straightening. So we went and asked the lady standing there whether they do things for guys too. She gave us a wierd stare probably wondering in her mind whether we were making fun of them. And then with much doubt she asked “What do you want, Sir” in a timid voice. That was an embarassing situation. So my unlucky friend didn’t speak any further and we left the place.
       The other main attractions on this floor would be KFC and TACO BELLS. KFC I’m sure there is no need to explain. The store is quite big and there is plenty of space. So even if you’re gang is quite big, you can always step in with confidence of finding a place to sit. Then going on to TACO BELLS. They, as their name suggests, serve Tacos along with many other items. Taco is basically a Mexican dish that I had till today seen only on Tv. It did look delicious on Tv and so we gave it a try. We took Chicken Taco and costs 26 bucks. When we got the dish on tray all of our reactions were in unison – “Hey this stuff is Papad !”. Trust me friends, that’s exactly what it is. Take a regular Lijjat papad and fry it. Put some veggies like cabbage, beans and carrots that you would expect in a typical burger. Then eat the papad with this topping. See I taught you to make a Taco. :P That was really depressing. Typical Indians wouldn’t like the taste. Infact, regular papad is better than what they serve. They gave us the feedback form and all we could muster up to write was “Dude go eat Lijjat Papad, its the same stuff,infact better !”. The disappointment of Taco soon disappeared because that’s the only block in the whole mall that offers a freefill on softdrinks. They’ve got all the popular brands – PEPSI,MIRANDA,7UP,MOUNTAIN DEW,etc. Pay 40 and they give you a cup. You can drink howmuch ever juice you want, any brand of your choice. The cup can be shared by 2. So its a pretty good deal. They serve good juice with ice cubes. That’s definitely the best thing in TACO BELLS.
       Moving onto the other stores in the floor. There is a RELIANCE Store on every single floor. RELIANCE footprints, RELIANCE digital, RELIANCE trends, you name it, and MANTRI has a stall for you. For people who love ice creams, they do’ve popular brands. BASKIN AND ROBBINS, KWALITY WALLS and POLAR BEAR are the ones that caught my eye. Anyway, my personal favourite is WILLIAM PENN. If you’re not much of a pen freak, you might as well skip the next 2 paras.
They’re basically a chain that sells 18 international brands of luxury pens. They do have a couple of other things too like leather accessories, shaving sets, lighters etc but the main focus still remains on pens. The few popular brands that I noticed were WATERMAN (the original inventors of the fountain pen), SAILOR, SHEAFFER, LAMY and ofcourse, MONT BLANC. The salesman seemed to notice my special interest for pens and he was very patient. He infact narrated the history behind each brand. The cheapest pen they’ve is 925 bucks from LAMY. Its made of plastic and basic colors. It infact looked like a small kid’s pen and I had no idea that they could charge you so much for that. The next best bargain he offered me was 1.9k worth pen from SHEAFFER. The most expensive pen they’ve costs 70k. The salesman was so patient and nice that he infact offered me test pens to write. He took 4 pens from a silver box. One SHEAFFER fountain pen, one SAILOR, and then a roller ball and ball point pen. I chose to try SHEAFFER first. He told that it costs 4.5k. So obviously I did expect something good. The nib was made of 14ct gold it seems. As I made my first stroke with it, there definitely was disappointment. Because, I felt it was quite rough and a regular Hero pen would write better than that. :P After that, he offered me SAILOR. He mentioned that if you’re really looking for a fountain pen, then SAILOR is the brand for you. Because they’re the only people that sell pens having 22ct gold nibs. He specifically mentioned that its a smooth writing pen. I didn’t believe him at first. Then I made my first stroke. Man! As smooth as butter and the texture, width colour of the ink everything was perfect!! You just can’t let go off that pen, it was so good. I couldn’t resist asking the cost. He said “13,000 only Sir” and my thoughts drifted away thinkin why he put an “only” in that statement. The roller ball pen was smooth too. My friend was really impressed by it but I’m more into fountain pens and found it more or less normal. The ball point pen had nothing that very special to boast of. He mentioned that MONT BLANC was more of a luxury brand and made nibs with 18ct gold. I could guess that the smoothness should be between SAILOR and SHEAFFER. He didn’t have a test piece though. Sob sob sob.. :( But I was really impressed with this store and the patience that the salesman had. After all, he gave me the oppurtunity to try out 3 international brands and that’s a first in my life. I promised him that I would return when I really deserved one of those pens and he chuckled and said “Sure sir”.
       Sometimes I feel that a pen can be closely compared to a woman. How you ask. Well they all look gorgeous. Each one tops the other when you closely observe the colour, texture, not to mention the smooth curves :P . They’ve character too just like a real woman. Some are too classy, some to showy, some just glossy, some have the style and no substance, some have substance no style, some the luxury kind to make a statement about your bank balance, some only the brand name, some plain cheap and then there is the perfect kind – harmony of economy, quality and style. The way you treat your pen is also important, just like the way you treat a woman. If you’re too callous and play around with it and try to write, you really aren’t going to get anything much other than a rough writing and uneven lines. But if you treat it with respect, firmly grip the smooth curves and make bold yet smooth strokes, all your dreams and imaginations can become real, just  like a pen that puts the ideas in your mind into the real world in writing. And never put down or play down a woman. You put down i.e drop your pen, you had it. You’d be lucky if it still continues to write the same way. Most pens would lose its smoothness, just like a woman who becomes grumpy when you play her down. But the demand is always for pens that can endure i.e the ones who remain the same even though you dropped it or played with a little bit. Similarly, woman who can endure a bit of comedy, prank, teasing, playing down etc are the ones that are liked more. So I hope you’ll never look at a pen the same way again. :P
       Moving on. The other stalls that we spent time in were APPLE imagine shop. If you’re an apple fanatic, I don’t even have to tell you the experience of stepping into an APPLE store. They had all the regulars – Touch, I Phone, I pods etc. Then they had the laptop range of MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. They sell related accessories like headphones, Mac OS X too. A nice desktop collection. Their screen brilliance is still unmatched I feel. They had the mini mac, time capsule, etc. Then there was APPLE tv which is basically a device that you connect to the Tv and you can play songs videos etc from the apple device. More or less a Tv with a hard disk. And then there was the big boy of the street – a powerful desktop with an awesome configuration. Intel Xeon processor, 3 GB DIMM RAM at 1600MHz, 620 GB SATA HDD and NVIDIA graphics card! That’s raw power. Personal favourite still is a desktop that costs around 60k. The monitor and CPU fused into one unit, got the DVD drives and USB ports on the monitor itself. Big display. APPLE keyboard and mouse. That’s the perfect combo of economy and performance. There were plenty of other digital stores too - RELIANCE digital, ACER, HP store, SONY CENTER, etc. For people who’re scouting for mobile phones there is RELIANCE digital and SANGEETHA. Many other popular brands too lik TISSOT, RADO, name it and MANTRI has got it.
       After all this, we finally reached the last floor. Its basically the food court and then there is INOX and scary house. Scary House was something that we really wanted to try – esp after the experience in Garuda Mall. We queued up to take the tickets and we saw a bunch of girls coming out with scared rather shocked faces saying “I didn’t know he was going to catch me from the back. S**t man! “. Listening to such comments, we tried it. The only feedback I can give for it is, they’ve to get a dictionary and look up the meaning of the word scared! Come on, there was nothing in it. Just a dark room, so dark that you can hardly see where you’re going. Some things like skeleton, etc. You can see people who’re controlling things on their control panels. Some guy gives you an unexpected “Hi” in that darkness. And its The End! That was the another huge disappointment and there goes another 40bucks down the drain.
At the food court, there are many stalls. The 2 full fledged restaurants were Rajdhani and Shiv Sagar. The stalls were Kfc, Pizza Corner, Taj Express, Coconut Grove, China Bytes, Fish and chips, many vegetarian stalls, etc. A bit of surprising thing was that I didn’t find a Mc Ds anywhere! Other than that, you’ve everything.

Mantri is a must visit if you’ve some serious shopping to do, you’re a brand freak or if you’ve a girl friend and would love to take a long stroll at a mall :P . Otherwise, don’t waste your time guys, do something else…

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