Monday, April 28, 2008


I really must dedicate a post to Gurgaon. Specifically, to ranting about Gurgaon.

I live in Delhi - South Delhi, to be precise. Every day, I travel one hour or so to reach my office in Gurgaon. I go with a friend of mine. Every morning, we have two ways of getting to office - the National Highway 8, or the Mehrauli-Gurgaon road. Pretty much every day, we take the swanky new NH-8, even though it is longer and has a toll booth. You see, the Delhi Metro is being extended to Gurgaon along the Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road. As a consequence of which, the traffic has been cut down to two lanes in each direction. And given the density of traffic at rush hour each morning, two lanes are definitely not enough.

My first week in Gurgaon, I couldn't stop bitching about the place. It is the only city I have been to so far in my life that has no public transportation system!! Getting to Gurgaon is easy enough even if you don't have your own car - you can either take one of the DTC buses that ply regularly between Delhi and Gurgaon, or you can take a cab. But once you get there, what do you do? The entire city has about 60-70 autos - none of which are ever to be found, of course. If you want to go anywhere, you take either a riksha or a tempo. If the journey is too long and you don't have your own transportation, then you better hire a cab. The roads of the city seem completely haphazard. They are dangerous, too. They lack signboards, they lack pavements. They are just rolls of solid tar laid out between buildings.

Everywhere you look, there is construction happening; big ugly buildings coming up on all sides. Every day, my friend takes the right turn from NH-8 at the boat building (anybody who has been to Gurgaon will know which building I am talking about) and my heart sinks instantly. After the mostly smooth travel on the highway (navigating between, admittedly, murderous taxi drivers in Sumo's and Innova's and Qualises) we enter a road with no pavement, unfenced parking lots on either side and (worst of all) monstrous high-rises lining the road. These buildings are covered in glass; they reflect everything around them and show nothing of their insides. Little signboards on their vast exteriors announce mysterious company names. They look down upon us as we get stuck in the usual morning mess of honking vehicles.

I love Delhi. I love its greenery, I love the roundabouts, I love the personality of the city.

And Gurgaon is the exact opposite of everything Delhi is. It is hard to describe what is so hateful about it. Dust swirls around in the tremendous heat of the afternoon sun. The road-side trees, when they are to be found, are lonely and yellow; they give no shade. Everywhere you look, you find man-made things - pollution-spewing vehicles, anonymous buildings, the half-done Metro. Nobody loves this city enough to take care of it.

Gurgaon has no middle class. Either you have the rich people living in tall shaky buildings, with their long cars and their arrogance; or you have the poor people struggling to cling on in the rich people's wake - as their housemaids or riksha-wallahs or neighbourhood vegetable-vendors.

When you travel around, you get the sense of a city without a heart. A city that grew up without going through childhood or adolescence. A city that didn't get the chance to explore itself and decide what it wanted to be. A city that sold itself to glass-fronted office buildings and multiplex malls and twenty-story flats. A city without a culture, a city without an identity.
• • •


Yagga said...

"When you travel around, you get the sense of a city without a heart. A city that grew up without going through childhood or adolescence. A city that didn't get the chance to explore itself and decide what it wanted to be." - Brilliant lines... Having been a resident of this soulless city for the last 5 odd months I concur... I don't think apartments in any other city have a seperate service lift for pets and house help (or that apartments actually feel truly apart)... A very good read...

Anonymous said...

"Gurgaon has no middle class..."
are you an MBA? in marketing? he he....this sounds like one of those segmentation exercises!

gurgaon sucks! everybody knows it.
unless you like to get drunk and puke in one of those discs in one of those malls!

its a city without a soul. thats what i realized living there. you dont live in a live in a city!

btw...while you are at it...try the sector 14 OM Sweets....the only savior in that expensive place :)

Nikhil Narayanan said...

Finally something that is for public consumption from you.
I have heard a lot on Gurgaon,on Malls/Apartment being then only landmark. And Vinayak(the guy who commented before me) once told me he wondered what these Mall makers had in did they expect people to reach these Malls?
Hope your "Finals" don't bring you back you to this soul less city.


Yagga said...

@ Nikhil... I used to wonder about transportation and how people got to these malls earlier... A walk through one of these malls will tell you that people who shop here have not heard of things like public transport... It's one of those places where you're expected to pay for Window Shopping as well :)

It is the only city where you'll see play areas filled with children and their nannies but no parent around (nope!!! not even on weekends)...

Nikhil Narayanan said...

Thanks to people including you, Gurgaon remains down there in my list of places to work. :-)

Yagga said...

@ Nikhil... we shall leave our petty quarrels and your reasons for not wanting to live in this city to our convesations on Gtalk... let us spare pebblethrower the agony of having to see us fight on her blog space :-)

Philip said...

Wandered here through desipundit. Nice writing :)

Especially loved the last paragraph, which I think is true of many of the many new cities.

Goyal said...

I have been living in Gurgaon since Nov 2005 and totally all the points in your post. Add to it the 6-8 power cuts, pathetic water supply, and astonishing lawlessness and you get the actual Gurgaon.

I think it is the same with most places that have been developed as Gurgaon as been, Noida being the other perfect example. They are just disasters in the making.

Jade said...

Vinayak: Thanks a lot.. Though apartments and hotels do usually have service lifts. They are larger than normal lifts and meant for carrying supplies, etc.

Anon: Hehe.. Yeah, I am an MBA student, though I am not majoring in Marketing. :) And thanks for the tip-off about Om Sweets! :)

Nikhil: Yeah, that's something I've wondered myself. And I really hope that I never have to ome back to this depressing place.

Yagga: Assuming you are Vinayak. :)

Philip: Thanks a lot.. :)

Goyal: True, they are indeed. Though the parts of NOIDA I have been to seemed better-planned and had better roads than Gurgaon.

Nighthawk said...

You speak with my heart. Beat to beat.