As far as shopping centres out here in Lalor go, we don't have much to choose from, apart from, er, the ones we do have to choose from. Okay! Look over here!
There's Epping Plaza (vistas of concrete and cars driving around endlessly in circles), the Rochdale Shops (a street held up by a milk bar and a Fish'n'Chip shop), Lalor Shops (the place to go if you want to be stuck in a Deli for half an hour behind four old ladies haggling over the price of a fig). And there is the ever-exciting Lalor Plaza - remote, seemingly unchanged since it was built in the '70s, low-ceilinged, consisting of a Coles and not much else. For a place aimed at mass market shoppers, Lalor Plaza seems amazingly inaccessible; for starters, it's hidden from the main road. On one occasion the Baron and I walked past the Plaza, and I noticed how one of their main entrances was buried beneath the street; you had to go down a little passageway until you got to the doors - it was like entering into a tomb. A tomb with fishmongers.
And then, there is the humble Lalor Hub. All over Melbourne you'll find strange little shopping arcades, never quite aspiring to the level of 'Plazas' - arcades that lead their way in little caverns through buildings. Here local hairdressers and computer stores and other small businesses find their natural abode. There's several in Coburg, at least one in Brunswick, and another in Preston. The other day I took myself on a walk past Lalor Hub, which is another example of this general concept - albeit a very strange, dilapidated example.
Its high walls were crumbling; the paint even seemed to be flaking from the proudly painted 'Lalor Hub' title. To one side there was a grocers, with plenty of fresh fruit, but apparently no customers. The proprietor had a little fold out chair and was sitting placidly out the front, apparently the only person there.
I am basically a bit of a stickybeak by nature; I can't help poking my nose into places like this. The door - between the Deli and the Bakery, not one of those electric doors that most shopping centres have; you just had to push it in yourself - lead me into a wide hallway. One store in the corner seemed to be more or less permanently closed. Next to the deli was a window, half filled with paper, saying 'FRESH FISH EVERY DAY'. That one, too, seemed to be closed for good. On the other side was LALOR BUREK: THE BEST BUREK IN MELBOURNE. That was right next to the Macedonian Radio Station, 'The home of the Macedonian community in Australia'. (This Macedonian community seems to mostly live in Lalor - there's a new Macedonian church and wedding reception centre, flanked by plentiful rosemary bushes, just down the road from where we live.)
I went into the Deli and wandered back and forth between the curious looking continental sweets. They were selling one of my favourite products, SLAG - a kind of packaged powder that you can turn into a flavoured cream dessert by adding milk. As I pushed up the back I noticed they seemed to do haircuts as well: they were a combination hairdresser-deli!
Thus concluded my real-life investigation of Lalor Hub. Later as I was browsing on the internet I turned up this ad for THE BEST BUREK IN MELBOURNE.
I also noticed that back in 2011, someone had created Facebook pages for Lalor Hub Burek (10 likes) and Awkward moment when you are craving for a burek from "Lalor Hub Burek" (15 likes; it sounds very awkward indeed).
Here ends today's edition of The Shopping Centre Review, Lalor Hub edition. I'm going to go off and think awkwardly about bureks now.
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