City dwellers here have one peculiar trait that a Penangite like me found amusing initially. Many families in the city spend their weekends cooped up in sprawling shopping complexes like Mid Valley Megamall and 1 Utama from breakfast till dinner. I had always wondered how one could linger in such enclosed spaces with artificial lighting for one full day.
Inherently, I am still a kampung boy at heart. When I was young, my parents would take me for picnics by the sea or to my grandfather’s plantation in Sungai Pinang on weekends. Therefore it was ingrained in me that weekends should be spent in wide open spaces where one is amongst nature again.
Now that I have lived in Kuala Lumpur for a while, I have embraced this peculiar trait of window shopping on weekends, too. I now understand that it is all about comfort and convenience. Food outlets are aplenty. There are beauty salons, hair dressing salons, karaokes, cineplexes, gymnasiums, department stores, supermarkets and shops that sell literally everything. What more could one asks for when all that is needed is housed under one roof?
That is not all. The one other thing that I was initiated into while hanging out at these places was people watching. Human beings of all shapes and sizes are there to be ogled, laughed at or impressed with. There are women in skimpy attires with tattoos peeking out from discreet parts of the body. There are women garbed from head to toe. There are men with body piercings that would make the fainthearted cringe.
With so much happening in shopping complexes, time really flies. Sometimes, one day is just no enough to wander around these places and soak in its ambience. It is no wonder these are favourite weekend haunts for people of all ages. Good or bad, this is the inevitable evolution of social activities that comes with development.
After practicing this city folk lifestyle for some time, I realised that we congregate in such places not only for the shopping and people watching. We are social creatures. We have an inborn nature with a need to be among our own. It is there among the sea of people that we feel most human. This peculiar trait is not that unusual after all.