Friday, February 02, 2007

Gur bhi, gaon bhi

Is it just me, or is there something strange about Gurgaon? I've been to the satellite city half a dozen times but never quite warmed up to it.

Sure, there are lots of glass and steel headquarters there. Plenty of shopping malls and conveniently located cushy apartments next door. But sab kuch bahut artificial lagta hai.

On the one hand, you get the impression that this is 'not India'. There are no regular markets and bazaars. No aam junta ka congregation spot besides the malls and private housing complexes. No 'purane sheher ki galiyan' (well, all of the above may exist in some pocket - but hidden away).

Now take a closer look and you will see this is very much India. The haalat of the roads and kachra 50 metres away from the swanky malls... is as bad as Mumbai (and certainly far worse than Delhi next door!). Gurgaon roads have apparently improved some but power cuts are a regular phenomenon ("all malls run on generators", I'm told).

And there is absolutely no public transport. Mobility to Delhi and back will take a leap once the metro is extended upto Gurgaon. But as far as internal transportation is concerned you will still be dead without your own vehicle.

Because of which, despite fairly wide roads and generous parking, weekends and public holidays like 26th Jan (when I was there), result in absolute chaos. The world and its step uncle descends on the mall stretch to gorge, guzzle, gape at shops and watch movies.

Same as yuppie public everywhere, but here the lack of alternatives is more pronounced.

One of the amusing things I noticed on this visit was a 'Scottish high international school'. It's even built to (somewhat) resemble a Scottish building/ castle. And no, I don't think it has anything to do with the famous Bombay Scottish school which owes its name to the fact that it was set up some Scottish missionaries. Over a century ago.

Tata taking over Corus is great. But I wonder when there will be a Haryanvi high school in Scotland... which Scottish students would clamour to attend. Tabhi hum manenge, that India really is taking over the world!


  1. You're right to point out Gurgaon being unique, though 'strange' may be a bit unfair... or atleast it's as strange as any other place in India.

    Gurgaon has evolved into this unique microcosm of upper income elite, comprising corporates, self employed professionals & old retired people. And the word is evolved, since Gurgaon happened on its own, before any planning happened.

    It continues to spiral into bigger and bigger area, roaring property prices and seems like one day, everything till Jaipur will be Gurgaon!

  2. u missed the crimes rate and water problems.. :)

  3. For an outsider, you did a pretty decent job of picking apart the miserable suburb that shd ideally be an independent city in itself.

    Like that other great Delhi suburb, NOIDA, where the police just showed it up for the fossilised mindset it really is, you will be surprised at the attitude and behaviour of the civic agencies in Gurgain. As far as they are concerned, the place is still a district of Haryana that happens to have the advantage of too many outsiders with money, so they don't really have to bother about doing their jobs.

    Just look behind any of the glass and steel horrors, and you will run into the 'hidden' gurgaon, consumed by nothing but talk of property rates, deals, and the ill luck of the people who sold too early:)

  4. The lack of transport in Gurgaon reminds me that the cylcle-rickshaw pullers are having a ball of a time fleecing the public there. No where will you hear people paying 50 or 60 bucks for a short commute on the rickshaw. By far the most expensive local transport anywhere in India!

  5. Hey..! u came to delhi.. and even Gurgaon.!! You should've spent sometime with me.. and I could have taken you places... lol.. you could get a lot more stories, photos, articles to write.. etc etc etc.. lol..
    Though whatever you've mentioned is a bitter truth.. and as panchi said.. u missed out on the crime rate, water problems.. commutation issues, etc etc.. :D

  6. I dont think Gurgaon is an exception of what is perceived and what it is.

    leaving some of the older metro cities, all the new acities that are coming up in India have their share of problems and then they have some things are visibly much better than the rest of the city, and when people see that its all praise for that place.
    In my opinion it stands true for all places, be it gurgaon, noida or even some of the bigger cities like bangalore(bangalore also has its own share of plights, but people around the world dont know about that unless they visit it!!

  7. yes uncontrolled growth of small cities is making them look artificial and get thrashed by the incoming commuters

    author :

  8. During my last long trip to Gurgava, I have seen families coming with picnic baskets on hot saturday / sunday afternoon. They sit with their families, open mathi and aachar; aloo paratha and dahi in these malls and enjoy the cool breeze air-conditioner.

    NO, i did not join them... i was going for a movie there..

  9. I've done four months in Gurgaon, and they were four months too many.

    - The power was out twelve hours a day frequently; and at times, even more. We didn't have an inverter for backup - and those who did, weren't able to charge their batteries enough for the next blackout.

    - The dust there is horrendous, blows all across the roads.

    - When it rains, the dust combines with it to become slush.

    - No footpaths

    - No public transport apart from cycle rickshaws (shameless plug to a post on my blog) which are as expensive as taxis in Bombay and take four times as much time to get anywhere.

    - One of the things you missed was that in spite of the fact that the roads are wide, they are badly designed with some restricted to one way so the traffic jams get worse every month...

    I don't want to return to the place, not for even an astronomical salary.

  10. The two flyovers on NH-8 in gurgaon are completed in jan but still they are not opened to general public as they are not finding right "minister" to inaugrate it........what a shit !!!

  11. But I wonder when there will be a Haryanvi high school in Scotland... which Scottish students would clamour to attend. Tabhi hum manenge, that India really is taking over the world!

    Rashmi, I disagree. Is there a Chinese school in US that US students are clamoring to attend -- NO.
    That is no indication of whether India / China is happening or not - just because Chinese-haryanvi doesnt have a broad appeal. English is accepted an a universal language and if talk about DPS happening in Scotland, it would still be a pertinent point.

  12. Whoever said that Gurgaon is great is absolutely right. Well the strangeness factors comes from the Government and authorities. We must salute the hard work and the spirit of a common man and the people who are trying to make the difference in Gurgaon. They are in huge numbers. If you want to see them visit any of the malls.

    What I believe is that the person who is visiting the malls, the number of people who are getting in Gurgaon from somewhere outside are the people who are looking for something different. They do not visit the malls just for shopping, they are in reality looking for something different from life. If given a chance they can also create difference here.

    The organizations were simply to grow economies but the malls are the units who understood the vary potential and the need within the residents for looking for something different and they cropped up everywhere. They are not leaving any stone unturned. Latest from them is their website:

    Guess what they must be planning from this one. Helping people of just another way to extract money.

    Cheers anyway,


  13. hi rashmi,

    The part of gurgaon that you saw is the new part. Till about 20 years ago this was a barren wasteland where nothing grew and the ground was sandy and rocky. The old city is still a bustling busy functioning city. This new part is something built to take the load off delhi...and the reason for lack of public transport is that they wanted only the upper segment of commuters to come and live here. The malls are just a part of the new city, which help people find an airconditioned refuge to spend their leisure time.

    There are some good things about gurgaon, the main being, that there are two water treatment plants which are fed from a canal coming all the way from punjab, and then filtered water is supplied to the city. Try comparing the water here with that of Noida and you will see how big a difference that makes. Of course the rapid growth rate has put pressure on infrastructure, but somehow it still remains a livable place, and the problems seem to be decreasing rather than increasing.

  14. hi.. find out more news on Gurgaon at

  15. hey all peoples have diffrent thoughts for gurgaon

    for me gurgaon is a heaven. gurgaon gives me lots of things to enjoy and gives me money to spend.
    i love Gurgaon

  16. Anonymous8:50 AM

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  17. Anonymous9:06 AM

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  18. Hey I never feel anything bad about Gurgaon don't know what made you write all that may be you were in a bad mood when you wrote that, Gurgaon is like a dream city for me where I have seen all my dreams coming true....
    People here are nice and freindly its just take an open arm and they are your friends....
    Can't say anything bad about a place where m living I can not be a critic for sure.... I try to make life beautiful where ever I live so Gurgaon is Gurgaon you can not compare it with any other place!


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