Kaun jaye Zauq par dilli ki galiyaan chhod kar…

We’ve been in Gurgaon a year and more now. The first thing that comes to mind when I realise I’ve completed one year is – okay, we can finally get all our passports renewed!!! And the next thought is – phew… I survived it. I’m an unhappy mover. I hate people moving my cheese. Additionally, I hate high rises. I hate concrete. I was born in the middle of the jungles, greenery and hills and in my darkest moments I just want to flee the big city and head back there. Living in a concrete jungle is harder on me than most people.

But I try not to bitch about it in real terms (please note, I only threatened to write posts but didn’t deliver until now) because I don’t believe in bitching about a place you’ve chosen to make your home and one that puts food on your table. If you don’t like it, do something more than merely bitch. For instance, I was unhappy in Madras and I did something about it – I made the OA move rather than just sit there and whine about it. This, unfortunately, is a place I have no choice about because I want to live in Delhi (or as close to it as possible as the title of this post demonstrates) and so I am learning to make the best of it, everyday.

I also realised that for all that I might whine to friends about how much I miss Delhi, I haven’t actively criticised Gurgaon to anyone or lumped the people in one homogeneous mass. Not in a long time!

And then I was sent this piece by Nirupama Subramanian and I was quite affronted. It made me realise that I had actually begun to feel some sense of loyalty for this place that I am forced to call home. I suppose I’m growing up and one year down, am making my peace with this decision.

Getting back to the piece, I suppose we’re all aware that authors are encouraged to write pieces for every publication the moment they launch a book; to drum up the publicity and stay in the public eye. Most often they choose to be witty and sarcastic and self-deprecating, but this piece was just so… silly and forced. I was mostly saddened because she lives in Gurgaon and I wish people would sometimes see the good around them and spread the joy. She wrote what she thought was a light hearted piece. But sadly, this piece will just confuse a lot of people who have never been here, who imagine that Gurgaon is Delhi or Delhi is the NCR or that this is the truth, when all it is, is a big, fat, poor joke. Who will judge all of us by this one damaging, silly, trying-hard-to-be-funny piece.

In the years I lived in Delhi, I knew there was a lot of crime, but I did try my best to see the best in the place and soon I loved it as my own. So much of what we think of a place, is shaped by media. Maybe it is time people like her and I who have a public space to air our views, actually showed people the best of Gurgaon. It has after all, taken us nomads in and given us a place to call home.

I’m going to deal with her article and its lack of nuance first.

The first point – Pinky and Bunty? Gurgaon has more diversity and expat population than most other suburbs. This is no Bunty-Babli town. And yes, we do need cars; simply because the government hasn’t given us much of an option on the public transport front. Much like the US. Not really the kind of thing you can turn into criticism. If you must, do start with the Big Brother.

Complaints about traffic and parking space. Excuse me while I laugh my guts out. That could be Bombay, Madras, Calcutta or any other city these days. Most days I call my parents in their one horse town and they’re driving round and round the local market place trying to find a place to tether their horse park their car.

Househelp. Yes, Gurgaon is mostly nuclear families – working couples with young children. Working couples with LONG hours. Sadly here, unlike the US,  there aren’t too many good daycares and neither do we have the luxury of nannies. Andyou do need house help unless you want to cook large batches of dal, freeze, microwave and eat food devoid of all nutrition. And if your kids have to be ferried from school to daycare, you will need a driver. Yes, okay, if you want to take a point and drag it to the extent where it loses all semblance of its original state like bubblegum, you can exaggerate – haa haa… Oh 8 helpers per household. Ha ha!

You complain about good househelp. I’m guilty of this one – but it’s true. India doesn’t have half the facilities that the West has, to make families self sufficient. We’ve largely depended on the kindness of family and social support. Moving to a nascent city where no one has family means we’re all the more dependent on hired help.  The suburb sprang up about 20 years ago and many parts are still but a year or so old. Villages were bought over and space was made for this ever expanding financial centre. The help we have here are primarily farmers who have never worked in this capacity before. I had a driver I let go because he’d watch me struggle with bags and bags of groceries, neither offer to help me out of sheer decency, nor open the damn car door as I stood there juggling them. When I asked him to open the door and be useful, he said he’d drive, but not open a door for me even if I paid him fifty thousand bucks. Why? Because he was from a high caste family and while it was okay to drive, it would be too servile to do the decent thing and open the damn door. A maid who came in couldn’t understand why I didn’t want the food served straight from the pressure cooker and insisted on glassware. All very well for people to laugh it up, but professional cooks and helpers in most cities will do the job they’re paid for without questioning your reasons and your sanity!

Walking – True. No one walks because there is nowhere to walk. The city is built across an intersection of state highways, national highways, expressways and what not. Where exactly is one to walk to? There are no local markets, barely any neighbourhood parks, no sidewalks and roads constantly dug up to make way for pipes and wires. Again – this has nothing to do with the people and more to do with a neglectful government. If you really cared you’d ask around and join a walking group. Yes, really – get to know the place, you know.

You only drive to malls. Sigh. My biggest grouse. And yet, show me any city coming up in the last 20 years and I’ll show you Mall City. These are places pushed into maturity by a space crunch. They haven’t had the luxury to develop slowly over decades with handmade goods and local markets. Developers are making space for the thousands of people pouring in each day (yes, each one of you knows someone working in Gurgaon’s business district) and they need to quickly set up shops to feed these thousands of consumers.

Gym. Really? Are you serious? You picked Gurgaon of all places to make fun of people not using a gym membership?! Most couples here take health rather seriously and work out seriously and frantically. If anything I mostly smirk at the people pounding away on the treadmill when they could take a swim, play a game or walk – all of which by the way, plenty of them do. If I had to pick one fit city, I’d pick Gurgaon with its hundreds of fitness and health conscious young couples and busy apartment complex gyms.

Actually most Gurgaon waasis don’t have four apartments – some are struggling to pay the EMI on the one and only. It’s mostly the NRIs who own four apartments. I guess its easier to earn in dollars and euros and spend in rupees. My landlord is in the US too. Also, you’re telling me no one in Madras or Bangalore or Bombay owns more than one home? And oh – I have about eight brokers on my phone even if not on speed dial. I needed them when I moved last year. What is your point again?

I do actually complain about the lack of greenery and we do often drive to Delhi for fun things to do. But we also car pool, take the metro, hitch a ride with someone from the complex headed that way and so on.

And this is where my list of grouses starts.

I miss greenery. Earmarking areas and greening the city is the goverment’s job. With DLF developing half the city we’re stuck with some narrow roads, tiny apartments and not enough parks. No reason to make fun of the citizens for that, is there? The average Gurgaonwaasi cannot build parks out of thin air. We do the best we can in our own gardens and plots and there is an initiative on – Million Trees Gurgaon. Even yesterday I saw a group of young people planting trees along the roads and dividers. The complexes are green and well maintained by the RWAs. Many have even taken up the onus of the stretch of the road outside their complexes. And this is saying a lot for young busy working couples who come home after 8 at night to homework, household chores and maybe a little unwinding. These are not old retired do-gooders with time on their hands

I feel terrible that Leisure Valley in the morning and Galleria Market in the evening are the only places for people to congregate if they want to skip the air conditioning. I feel bad that there is no public transport. It ties down a free spirit like me. Yes, don’t get started on me driving. I hate being pushed/ pressured into things. I’ll do it when I’m good and ready – which might be never. Which really is, sort of my point. I hate that it doesn’t give me the option of using public transport and not putting another car on the streets. I loved living in Delhi and jumping on to a bus and reading all the way to my destination.

I hate the sameness of the buildings and I hate how ugly some of them are with endless chrome, glass and turrets and domes. It’s like a stoned architect’s vision of what the millennium city must look like. I hate that we’re all allotted a certain amount of space and you walk into your neighbour’s house knowing exactly where the toilet is located; barring a few well done houses, there are no surprises. I hate that people have to call and ask for my house number when they reach the complex. That they can’t just remember what it looks like, as they did when I lived in Delhi. That it has no personality or individuality. The kids still look wistful when we pass the old Delhi house.

I hate shopping in malls. I miss organic markets, I miss haggling, I miss strolling down the road and chatting with store keepers as I pick my produce. On another note, it’s funny how most travellers are happy to do that in Turkey and Cairo but not in their own hometowns!

I hate that there is no history. That the landmark around there is Signature Towers or the Ship building. That there is no Siri Fort or Old Fort to just drive by and suddenly be smacked in the face with a slice of history pie.

On the other hand, because I promised to be fair, I love that we have water and electricity without having to fill buckets, check on inverters and buy generators. That I don’t have to lug groceries up to the third floor and can use the lift and spare my knees.

I love that my kids are playing safely within a complex without having to trek to the nearest park. That they are building lasting relationships with kids they meet everyday instead of merely depending on us to introduce them to our friends’ kids.

I love that the OA gets to swim, work out and play a game of tennis when the mood catches him and he has time.

I love that I can walk for an hour every night, without worrying about being run over or having to hunt for a park with a jogging track.

I love that there is such diversity in the few acres that my complex is spread over. Bengalis, Tamilians, Maharashtrians, Gujaratis – you name it, they’re here. This is the one city that doesn’t judge you for your religion or community. You don’t have to speak Marathi to get a job here. Every festival sees a mela of some sort in the apartment lawns. So yes, its driven by consumerism, but isn’t every festival today?

I am happy to meet plenty of people that I’d love to get to know better. Artists, designers, doctors, musicians, photographers – I’d mistakenly thought that there would be only corporate types and their kitty party attending wives, but I am happy to be proved wrong. Unlike the author, I took the time to know my neighbours and I can no longer in any honesty tar them with the same brush. The NCR is expanding, real estate is expensive and just about every type of person who needs a home has moved out here.

I am glad for the friends I have made and the winter afternoon picnics in our lawns and strolling down with a cup of coffee in hand for a midnight chat while we lie in the grass and look up at the stars. Confident that we’re only a quick elevator(!) away from our sleeping kids being watched over by maids (!).  A small reward for working long hours and living far from family in a country that is entirely unfriendly to nuclear families.

I am glad that I am here and a participant as the city makes its policies and creates traditions  – like breakfast at Roots after a jog and flag hoisting at the Epicentre. There is something to be said for a city that has history. There is also something to be said for being part of history in the making.

And maybe this is why I was so saddened by that article. The author chose to write a wannabe witty, but borderline nasty piece on an entity that cannot strike back. Actually it wasn’t even the city she made fun of, so much as the people – people who unlike the other metros are not Tamilians or Bengalis or Maharashtrians or Punjabis – not from one single community. A city that is a melting pot in so many ways that it cannot be defined by its people. One that she continues to make her home in. One that she seems to have seen no redeeming features in. Yes, I know we all need to promote our books and butter our bread. This one though, was just – a waste of printspace.

So, to a year in Gurgaon *clink* I may not love you yet. But I think we might just be friends someday.

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64 thoughts on “Kaun jaye Zauq par dilli ki galiyaan chhod kar…

  1. I have not been to Gurgaon and don’t feel strongly for it or against it. This post however brings a smile to my face 🙂 … I’ve been reading u since the time u used to live in Delhi and so I kinda know how hard it has been for u to get adjusted to the place. And yet( without even realizing it?), you are loyal to it and and feel like it’s yours. I’m that way about people and things in my life. I can get mad at them and say anything to them, but don’t iike it when someone is nasty and criticizes what is dear to me. n this I count as one of my positives 🙂 Here is to how-many ever Happy years for the mad family in Gurgaon!

  2. Pretty pleased that you made peace with Gurgaon in one year and actually defended it. Oh I can sleep in peace today 🙂

    I think the first para of the article is the best promo line for Gurgaon ‘you don’t have to be born there to be gurgaonite”..you feel at home no matter where you come from.

    on a similar note, I hear lot of people migrated and settled in Northe America find fault with everything here. Never understood why they continue to stay here? which PM or President invited them to settle here?…I am not going down that path in detail becuase I want to enjoy the peace and joy I got reading your post defending Gurgaon. You have done well MM! God bless

  3. I did not read the original author’s piece because I wanted to read a fair, just and happy one – so I just read yours! I’ve learned from you how to truly make a place your own and dig in roots so it was hard to watch your struggles with Gurgaon. I know it’s not a bed of roses (although you might have a manicured one in your complex – sorry, bad joke), but I so agree with you. Place are dotted with the connections you make, the quirks and nuances that make them your own. I live in NYC, a place easy to love for someone like me (I tell my husband I can never move somewhere where I HAVE to own a car) but some times I think wistfully about a small mid-western city I spent 2 years in. I could think of it as a stereotypical non-diverse American city but instead I think of it as the place I saw every art house film released, joined an acting and french class, learned to appreciate wine, fell in love with this country’s public libraries, volunteered for a local radio station and made great friends. Wow ok, my life in NY just started feeling really lame. Either that or it’s motherhood.
    Kudos, and thanks for the picker upper.

    • 🙂 How lovely you made your mid-west experience sound. and yes, I am very big on digging in roots and part of the reason I hated the move to Gurgaon was not so much that it was Gurgaon, but that it was not Delhi.

  4. Others may or may not feel it, but people living in Gurgaon and those who have analysed & experienced enough would feel the pang of the article. It was kind of in-the-face, it made me wonder if there was any good thing at all about Gurgaon & its people. But I guess she wasn’t having a good day in Gurgaon and just needed to rant it out. Most of the points in the article would apply to any metro/busy city . ‘Waste of printspace’ was epic!!
    Totally agree with you on the household help point. There is a serious lack of professionalism in most people that I have seen in India. It could be because they don’t like what they are doing or they don’t respect what they are doing or it could just be a plain hatred for themselves. And now, if we explain how janitors (most of them!) in countries like the US are proud of what they do and give their 100%, we are either bragging or downright unpatriotic.
    PS: I love that you call Bombay, Madras , Calcutta ; Bombay, Madras , Calcutta 😀

    • Exactly. The drivers here believe that their job is merely to drive from point A to B. They won’t bother to tell you if the clutch isn’t releasing properly, they don’t bother to clean the cars till they shine – which according to me, is all part of the job. But they’re just too damn snooty to do things the way you want it. As I often tell them, I too am an employee. I too have a boss and I must deliver in the way my boss expects, not any which way I please.

      • And it’s in our nature to complain. If Gurgaon had been a mall-less, slow city people would again complain. I guess its cool to say “I don’t get what I want and I somehow manage…”.
        On a related note, I live in a city that I’m not friends with, I don’t have friends here, cannot work here and don’t really have any great memories attached to this place – can I bitch about it? 😀

  5. Imagine my surprise when I caught myself telling a friend that shops in London should stay open longer on Sunday and close on Tuesday instead, like the malls in Gurgaon! Yes, you can laugh 🙂

  6. Is it more the sense of ‘loyalty’ then genuine dislike for Nirupama’s article?… I did read the old post of you defending Delhi to someone who praised Gurgaon.

    I went and read the linked page before I read your post. Much of my impression of the city comes from your blog! Nothing in the article seemed surprising or new.

    • A little of both. I believe anyone should be loyal to a city that houses and feeds you. I lived in Delhi, I supported it. I live in Gurgaon now and I will support it even if I am not happy as a lark. That is what loyalty means. It means I can see what is wrong, but I am not going to let you get away with only the wrong – how about talking about the good too? If you can’t treat it with respect, get out of it. I also believe her criticism was silly which is why I disliked it. She criticised the people – and the population here is migratory. She herself is a Subramanian living in Gurgaon – how then can you come up with things like Bunty and Pinky. This is hardly Punjab Central.
      And yes of course I’ve criticised Gurgaon myself when I moved here – no denying it. I’ve hated certain things about it like the grey concrete, the lack of greenery and much more. But hers targeted the people here and painted all with the same brush – which is not possible considering it is such a varied melting pot of a city. As someone who now lives here and meets all those people, I can tell that there is no truth to the statements she makes. She’s making ridiculous generalisations, just to get a laugh out of her readers and while that is all very well, I think she was very unkind in her judgment.

  7. Okay, so I have been to Gurgaon for half a day, two years back. Visited Delhi twice, once when I was really tiny. So nothing much to say about the place per se. But I agree with the fondness one develops for the place one stays in. I mean, I lived in Ranchi for four years of my life, and trust me, its a place I would rather not go to again, in my good sense! But dare someone criticise the city in my presence!!! I will launch full war against them I tell you 🙂 Even now, I hate the part of US I stay in. But again, only I can say ill against it, when I want to. Its endearing how we develop such lovely relationships with so called non living entities, hai na? 😀

    • 🙂 I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like I am home yet – but I do feel that if I am going to stay here, I need to stop bitching. People ask me if I am happy and I honestly reply that I am not, and I miss Delhi. But that is where I stop. I remember an old blogger, Poppin’s Mom once wrote a similar post on Bangalore. Asking people to respect the place that gives them a home and food on their table. We’re just growing so mercenary, critical and uncaring of things of that sort.

  8. What I’ve realized is that the place you live in doesnt influence your lifestyle much, if you’re the types who sticks to your own beliefs/choices do. So whether you live in Ggn, Mumbai, Chicago or Atlanta, a few parameters like transport/househelp etc. may change, but that’s only a fraction of your way of living life. I moved from India to the US almost a decade ago, and yes I treat both places with respect. I hate complaining about either place.. you learn to live and adjust. You can always cook idli-sambar at home if you cant stand cereal for breakfast, and you can always use call taxis in chennai if you hate haggling with the auto-wallahs. It’s about the attitude.. we’re a generation that is relatively more finicky and over-analysing.. everything can be debated about and beaten to death, or you can simply accept what you cant change (place you live for most people) and find a way around things you dont like. That being said, it seemed her article was wriiten more as a humor thing than something serious? I mean, how can you even summarize a whole place in a few bullets? Isnt that way too much stereotyping .. it’s almost as cliched as ‘all tamilians are geeks’ or all punjabis are loud.

    • Yes her article was written as humour, but even humour must have some kernel of truth. I found a lot of it generalised nonsense. I also think its badly timed because people like to pick a whipping boy and beat him to death. In this case, Gurgaon. It is a CBD – there is more money being made out of here than anywhere else – 100s of MNCs are setting up shop here -for a reason. People are flocking from around the country to make their money off it and still bitching. It’s time someone said something nice about the place, particularly its own residents.

      And to the other point I have to say, taxis are not always affordable – not in Madras, not in Delhi or in Gurgaon. There needs to be public transport, there need to be fixed prices and there needs to be accountability. The govt, the cops, they need to be stricter in all these places and ensure that the average citizen can travel comfortably and without getting fleeced. Can we and should we really have to take expensive cabs to places?

      And yes, last of all, how can you summarise a city in a few cliches specially when there is no one community or ‘type’ of person here?

  9. I get the loyalty, I feel it towards Kochi, Bombay and Hong Kong…the three cities where I’ve spent significant chunks of my life. I also feel it towards Madras where I studied for a year. But as far as the artice is concerned, I think Ms Subramaniam is only guilty of not being terribly humourous. The article is not so much criticism as a bunch of “witty” observations many of which are true or truth adjacent (except for the pinky/bunty one). Shes just pandering to the commonly accepted perception of sattelite cities, which are regarded as charmless and ultra consumerist when compared with a real city such as Delhi. That she had nothing positive to say about the place is remiss.
    Btw, what does “Zauq” mean?

    • It’s what I said. I’d have let it pass if she were at least humourous. These are just unfair digs. Nothing funny and simply riding a wave.
      Zauq means – THE Zauq. for more details go here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Ibrahim_Zauq

      The line is a well known one of his – the earlier lines talk of how the money and power have shifted to the Deccan, but one still doesn’t have the heart to leave Delhi and follow it….

      • Looked up some of his couplets, wish I understood them completely. Let me see if my Hyderabadi husband can help. He claims to understand Urdu.

  10. Dil pe mat le yaar…..haath mein le 😉

    I totally go with what Sumana said above. Only I can criticize my city….and my spouse…and my parents….and my sibling….and my friends…and that’s it.

  11. I totally get annoyed too whenever I hear anyone (esp desis) bitch about Dubai. And I too believe that we must not run down the place we make our home in. Which city/nation today is easy to live in? I moved here from London, much as I miss London, Dubai is home now. It is a wannabe NYC and probably getting there…but it is home. This is where my child was born. and like you said, this place gets the bread on the table too. I know a lady who has moved from Singapore and hates Dubai. The usual complaints, no greenery(although it is kept greener than even Delhi by the state), no this-no that…well yeah that’s true. So, once we took her for a drive to the mountains and passed great big miles of desert…and I forced her to look at it, like really look at it…..and she finally admitted how beautiful and calm and soothing it is to just stare at those dunes…glinting in the harsh sun. The desert has its own beauty. We can put in our roots anywhere we want MM. And then like you said spread the joy. Nothing is more miserable than somebody spreading misery! Cheers to G’town! 🙂

  12. Her article is super lame. My dad lived in Gurgaon for 2 years, and although the town is nowhere as charming as Delhi (I’m from Hyderabad, so I totally get the need to run into little bits of history everyday), he loved it, and we loved visiting him there.

    I’m happy for you that you’re slowly finding Gurgaon more tolerable (is that a good word?). I am in Madras right now, and every morning I wake up wishing I was in Hyderabad and longing to hear the familiar and musical Hyderabadi Urdu 😦 I am told by people who love Madras that it is a great city, but it just doesn’t work for me. 😦

    • There’s no place like Hyd. I lived there a year and a half and would still go back there in a heartbeat. People are warm, they don’t make you feel like an outsider. The parks are beautiful, the weather is mostly lovely and its just the right mix of big city and small town. Perfect.

      • Ooooh thank you for saying that! I love anyone who says sweet stuff about Hyderabad 🙂 And I promise I’m not doing shameless self-promotion, but I am so Hyd-obsessed I have a blog about the city – my name in these comments links to it 🙂

        • Wooo…lovely blog Madhu. I feel very bad that I havent visited these beautiful places for many years(inspite of having stayed there). So the next time I visit Hyd, which is going to be soon, I am going to take my little one, and also my niece and nephew from US and introduce them to our great heritage. Thanks for bringing back beautiful memories of my city.

  13. I am so happy you decided ot write this peice. I have teh same reaction when people , without ever visiting Delhi, say that it is a bad city to live. “Crime is high, pace is fast, people are rude, traffic is bad, its bad for women, how do you live here, we feel suffocated’
    Yes all of this might be true to a certain extent. We do have traffic, we ofetn have to travel 2 hrs to reach our place of work, and yes we abuse, lane change and honk. But this is also one of the greenest city, with wide roads, parks and whole load of memories for me. I have met some really nice helpful people here, i have lived here my whole life, i have travelled at night in cabs. And hell i like the pace, i survive on it. Anyone who has a problem can stay where they are.
    Everyone’s faced with bad, difficult situations..its your response to these situations that makes the difference.
    So MM way to go…three cheers for Gtown

  14. 🙂 Whatay post. And so many points to relate to. My journey in Madras has been some what same to same, from being extremely unhappy and disoriented in the beginning to finding things that I enjoy and finally settling down here 🙂 Must blog about it 🙂

  15. I loved this post. I have never been to Gurgaon, but I can still relate to what you are saying. As for Nirupama’s article, that could very well, some of the points she mentions (lack of greenery, use of cars, traffic jams, over dependence on hired help), that could have been seen in any city in India.

    I agree with you about getting to know the city you live in better. I was afraid when I moved to Bangalore from Ahmedabad initially. I had no clue whether I would be happy here or not. However, once I took the time to understand the city better and explore it – really, properly see its nooks and corners – I started loving it. Ahmedabad was home for 25+ years for me, but this is home now, and I am starting to feel a loyalty for this place too.

    A friend of mine gets miffed when people talk of Bangalore as being known only for its beautiful climate and its pubs. I keep telling her it’s not. No city can be just its climate or its malls or gardens or its cars. Every city has a multitude of things its own – however small it might be – and you just need to learn to love them, to learn them.

    No city today just consists of only Tamilians or only Punjabis or only Gujaratis. Everything everywhere is becoming so cosmopolitan.

    Just my 2 rupees. 😀

  16. I lived in Gurgaon, and I was glad to move away. But I look back on my near-year spent there with nostalgia. I was alone then, in my first job, and Gurgaon’s very difficult if you don’t have a car, which I couldn’t afford. But I was alone and in my first job, and life was full of possibilities. I have never felt so independent since, even though in many ways it was the worst year of my life, it was also in so many ways the best.

    Oh well, now I want to visit.

    • Oh its not the nicest of places anyway. And certainly not for people like you and me. We want different things out of life, and will happily do without full time security and a pool in the complex. But its useful to have them even if you don’t crave them. Also I think if you’re in a strange place, no friends, no transport – you’re bound to hate it.

      • Yes, and I mostly did, but as I said, there were some things I loved. I loved living alone, I loved how peaceful it was and how lovely my colony was. I hate how flat the countryside is, but I loved that there were so few tall buildings. Then, at least–must have changed a deal now.

  17. I read your post & the one by Nirupama too.Didn’t affect me in the way it affected you perhaps because for me it was just a piece of info true or otherwise.I’ve lived in Mumbai all my life & it’s my home.Although I criticise it & crib about it myself let anyone else say anything against it & it hurts.I remember you mentioning in a recent post about a flying visit to Mumbai during your vacation.The description of it’s of lack of open spaces & the comparison with Delhi made me wince just a little bit .Although I knew it’s true. I wanted to say Mumbai is not only that 🙂 I’ve visited Delhi on a few occasions & frankly speaking never much cared for it till I started seeing it in a new light ,through your eyes, as you described your life there in your blog.So , in the end I suppose it is the loyalty & the memories we make that endear a place to us.Perhaps Ms Nirupama is not able to accept Gurgaon as home.Glad that you are beginning to settle & grow roots there.

    • See, I’m all for true descriptions. It’s true Mumbai doesnt have open space and its true Gurgaon has no public transport and no greenery. Say that to me either seriously or humorously and I will agree. I disagree with what she said because she levied criticism where there was none to be levied. And Mumbai is a lot more, but that was just what my kids observed and mentioned as a quote. Mumbai is the beach and the Marine Drive and good sea food to me. And some beautiful old buildings. It’s always hard to hear that someone doesn’t like our home. It’s just a little easier to accept if it’s done in a fair manner.

  18. Never really ‘loved’ the last city I lived in, when I was there. That said, I grew to love the many years I spent there/ what the city came to represent, for me – it gave me my first pay cheque, I learnt to live alone, made some of my best friends there and enjoyed every (well, ALMOST every :p) good thing that comes out of being a single, earning woman in her 20’s.
    Now that I am away, every time I think of the place, the sense of warmth and nostalgia that envelop me, always take me by surprise. I am yet to understand the concept of disliking a city – I’ve seen a fair share of them and I am yet to be in one I didn’t really like. Some places take a day, some years, but at the risk of sounding cliched and mushy, every city ends up laying claim to some part of who you are – its pretty hard to shake that off, no?

  19. Ah, Galleria. I never miss sitting by the waterfall? when I go shopping there on cool breezy summer evenings. Though in the same breath, I wish I was rather at India Gate, picnicking. SIGH…. but we have to make the most of what we have, especially if I want the convenience of having my home near office.

  20. it sounds like people there are under the mercy of a powerful builders’ lobby. so, who’s going to try and bell the cat, start some activism against this rampant over “development” and misuse of land and it’s resources? by the looks of it, every major city will go the Gurgoan way. and, what kind of a message and future is that for the kids who will grow up knowing nothing better? reclaim your rights and your space before it’s too late. maybe have a citizens group to stand united. prices for flats keep spiraling and actual value in terms of amenities and standard of living keeps diminishing. something is not right with that equation.

  21. This is freaky, because I was thinking of writing something like this on Delhi just yesterday. I moved here last year, kicking and screaming, from my beloved Calcutta, and for the first few months I HATED everything I saw. The big cars, the small cars, the cars everywhere, the deserted roads, the sweet golgappas (WHO has sweet golgappas, I ask you? Phuchka is meant to be salty and tangy), the horrible orange butter chicken, etc. But now, it’s one year down the line, and I came back from somewhere a few days ago, and just as I walked out of the IGI airport, I realized with a shock that this city has grown on me. I know the roads now, I know the good places to eat, I love the winters here, I have made friends and I have made memories. I guess when you stay at a place long enough, it is bound to wrestle its way into your heart. Calcutta will always be the reigning deity, but maybe Delhi can have its own place in my life too. So, cheers MM! Here’s to grudgingly liking the places we call our home! *clink*

    p.s. Or maybe this is just my blind love for Karim’s speaking. 😛

  22. I’ve lived in Madras all my life…Visit Mylapore, Adyar, Bessie beach, even Parrys(or town, as its known!) and you’ll soak in the spirit of the city. Yes, we have our awfully hot weather, and the auto-kaarans who fleece us.. and a million other things. But its still home and my favourite place in the world 🙂 I don’t like it when people criticise it. Especially those who haven’t really lived here long enough to know the place.
    I guess no one likes it when the city they call home is criticised 🙂 Its like having someone criticise the house you live in 🙂

  23. What I cannot fathom from the article was that though there are people who quality on 4 -5 out of 7 points she raised, How the hell they manage all this?Isnt it a headache to manage so much – 8-9 househelps and hence to your point , even within GGN, there are a sliver of people displaying the same, the general junta is managing a normal working life like many others in other metro cities where also people do have cars and house helps and ” dont walk” to nearby markets.

    • Well if they do have househelp numbering 8-9, they are clearly very rich to be able to afford them – help doesn’t come cheap. And you have rich people in every city. Why is that so surprising? They probably have a huge 4 storey house with 10 members living in it, 5 cars and 10,000 sq ft to take care of and you need help. We may not be those people, but they exist in every city.
      Also, you don’t need to be rich to have a lot of househelp. I know people in places like Calcutta with 5 people coming in to work – one to cook, one to sweep, one to swab, one to dust, one to whatever else – in a tiny 1000 sq ft flat.
      And I lost you in the last bit of your statement. …would you care to explain?

  24. Hi MM,

    Nice post. I live in delhi n been reading ur blog for quite some time no…, not much acquainted with gurgaon much as i’ve been there once or twice n just that. So nothing much to say about that. But would add that I like the way u approach thing..
    Then why am i posting a comment is to know about the ORGANIC MARKET U fleetingly mentioned in this post…

    • I think you misunderstood. I didn’t mean organic in terms of organic produce. I meant markets that are natural and have sprung up on their own, like Munirka etc, not malls.

  25. my grandparents used to live in what is old Gurgaon now. there was a time where there was NOTHING along the entire stretch of MG road except perhaps garden estate and we used to wonder how do people live there. at times if we were driving back post dinner – dad would keep his service revolver handy. my uncles who are now in Canada gasp every time i send them a pic of their gur-waala-gaaon. while i don’t care for the way the place has come up and am not too happy about the way things are in saddi dilli – gimme that over Bombay, Madras Bangalore any day… guess we seek comfort in familiar surroundings – warts be damned. it hit me as i was coming home after three gloomy days in Bombay – one of which had the blasts happening. as we came in to land – the lights looked so beautiful and welcoming. i was so glad to be home.

  26. mm, i read the article in the link… saw nothing but humour.. loved the way it is written.. y did it hit u so hard???

    • Are you from Gurgaon? Because if you are, you will realise that everything she said was nonsense. Things are only funny if there is a kernel of truth to them. Else its just false propaganda, even if it’s written in a humorous way. As a writer and as someone who lives in Gurgaon, I didn’t see humour or like the way it was written.

  27. Attagirl!! Glad you’re making your peace with the city. I often hate it, but then I often hate my parents too. But they’re all mine mine mine!

    Btw liar liar .. U have flogged ggn in so many posts.

  28. The first time I read Nirupama’s piece, I burst out laughing. Given my once-a-month visit to Gurgaon and the time I spend staying over with a friend in one of the typical apartment complexes, I thought a lot of it rang true. Clearly though it has hit a nerve with Gurgaon residents going by this post and some of the comments. The one part in your defensive retort that got my eyes rolling was the bit about not needing to know Marathi to land a job here. Presuming that you are alluding to Bombay I must point out that for all its pain value, the one thing that Bombay can boast about is being truly cosmopolitan, unlike any other city in India. Much as Gurgaon people love Gurgaon, you cannot give it attributes it really does not have! Especially by making a sly comparsion to a city that is in a very different league.

    • Yes, sarcastic posts are always funny when they’re at someone else’s expense. Never mind if there is only a kernel of truth while the rest is built up for the sake of finding something to say.
      Perhaps you should roll your eyes at the taxi drivers from UP and Bihar who got beaten up – not so cosmopolitan a gesture, was that? It’s sad that people keeping harking to a Bombay that was, not the Mumbai that is. Sadly, there is so little left there to get on a high horse about. No?
      A 20 year old business district can’t be compared to one of the oldest cities. But the least you can do, is give it its due – particularly if you too are availing of its hospitality once a month, presumably to earn your bread and butter.

  29. Looks like MM is becoming loyal to the place. You actually defended it when someone pointed out the negatives(though they don’t really exist). 🙂

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