Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Have you been to the Pacific Mall?
Today I wandered into the Pacific Mall, which is located in Markham just North of Toronto. I have lived 10 minutes away for 15 years and have never walked it's corridors. Talk about a cultural experience. With tiny cubicles filled with "random crap" (to use Uttara's coinage) from China and other Asian nations which abut the Pacific ocean, this was our go to place to set right a shattered front screen of an iPhone. This not so legal activity is carried on with great aplomb by young Chinese women who look like teenagers but manipulate those iPhones with the competence of Sensei, their delicate, dexterous fingers performing surgically precise operations to save the injured phone. It was 6 p.m. on a Monday night but we saw a long line forming behind us. The experience was utterly surreal. I had been transported to the Far East with hundreds of Chinese, Korean and Indian customers milling about me. Some Hong Kong rock star was belting out a song and the smell of pancakes wafted around us -teasing and tantalizing. We deposited the phone for what we were told would take half an hour and discovered more of this "mall" which had all the features of a Malaysian night market. There were piles of knock offs of every conceivable designer item, pirated CDs and videos, booths that will unlock your phones and hawker stalls which beckoned with interesting aromas of a wide variety of food prepared in tiny hole in the wall outlets. The whole place had the feel of transience as though this was reality being streamed in technicolour, obsolence built into everything on display and with stalls that can immediately be dismantled based on a tip regarding a possible raid. This thriving and bold haven of what is considered intellectual property fraud in the West, stands tall with no dearth of satisfied customers who leave it with a smile on their faces, mission accomplished. I obviously cannot admit to whether ours was. Whatever else it is not, the Pacific Mall is a cheap trip to the exciting East where commerce is done based on a different set of rules.