Make the most of the malls
If you think malls are about shopping and eating, think again. Reaching out to people of all ages - from 4 to 80 - malls have evolved into recreational spaces that offer everything from foot massages and fish pedicures to cage cricket, bumper cars and bungee jumping.
"We visit malls at least twice a week and the main reason we do this is to bond as a family. We play, eat, shop, and participate in various activities together," says Smita Balakrishnan, 31, a Nerul resident and homemaker who spends weekends at the mall with her husband and six-year-old son Sumeer.
While Smita often relaxes with a spa treatment, her husband and son go bungee jumping.
Sometimes, the Balakrishnan's go mall-crawling with family friends, with the women bonding over mehendi and nail art while the children enjoy portraiture or clay modeling sessions and the men try to beat each other at cage cricket or air hockey.
The live portraits are a good option for couples with young children; the sight of the entire family or group being etched before their eyes never fails to delight the young ones, and it makes for a great memento of the day spent together.
"My four-year-old daughter loves the live portrait painting," says Shoaib Mithaiwala, 36, a fashion designer with Yash Raj Films who bonds with his son at the mall on weekends while his wife spends time with their three-month-old son and relaxes while getting some nail art. "My wife likes to get a different design on each nail," says Mithaiwala, laughing.
Most of these recreational options are enjoyable and very low-cost, with prices starting as low as Rs 99 for a Jawed Habib haircut by an apprentice.
"My mother-in-law and I both love the fish pedicures. They are so relaxing and cost only a few hundred rupees," says Renuka Arora, 42, an area sales manager with a multinational crockery company.
"It's the main reason we go to the mall on weekends."
For the more energetic and adventurous, there is an array of indoor sporting activities on offer, including ice-skating and bowling, with options such as bumper cars and jungle gyms to keep the kids happy while the parents relax and enjoy their day off too.
"While my wife and I play a round of bowling, our daughter keeps herself busy making her way out of the jungle gym maze at our local mall," says Mithaiwala.
Corporate sales executive Asif Sawar, 25, meanwhile, spends most of his free time ice-skating with his friends at one of his three favourite malls in central Mumbai.
"All you have to do is turn up," he says. "They give you all the necessary equipment - headgear, skates, supports. And it's just such a great way to spend an evening."