More than a decade ago, when Sangeeta and Sandeep Mathur relocated from Mumbai to Gurgaon, they fell in love with the serene apartment complex, ‘The Heritage City’. The sprawling green complex, nestling in the very lap of nature, with an inviting boulevard of trees at the entrance, had cast its spell. Despite the fact that the complex was bang on the MG Road, it was quiet and peaceful. The mall mania had yet to be unleashed.
Settling down in Gurgaon was no bed of roses. Sangeeta was apprehensive. She had studied, got married, and had her two sons in Mumbai. “When we relocated, both my sons were at a crucial stage. We were lucky, as DPS in Sector 45 had just come up. My younger son Saurabh’s batch was the first to pass out,” recounts Sangeeta.
“It has been an eventful journey over the decade,” says Sandeep Mathur, who currently heads Fenesta Building Systems, India’s largest windows system provider. As a concerned citizen, the rise in hooliganism and crime bothers Sandeep, as much as the civic apathy. “The molesting of a girl on New Year’s Eve, by dozens of reckless hooligans, has undeniably dented the image of Gurgaon. Revelry in Gurgaon has become synonymous with brawls and booze.” And now even apartment living seems unsafe. Five men, wearing Delhi Police uniforms, recently entered their complex, with an intention to loot. They gained entry into the premises after telling the guards that they were from the Delhi Vigilance Bureau. The police have recovered a Santro car, a country made revolver, a pistol, live cartridges, masks, ropes, and red chilli powder. It seems that Jugnu, who worked as a carpenter, and knew the layout of the apartment complex and its residents, was the gang informer.
“However, notwithstanding the rise in crime, Gurgaon remains a happening enigma of contrasts, struggling with developmental pangs and civic negligence. The problems are frustrating, but the potential is promising,” says Sandeep. He remains optimistic.
When asked about the transformation of the MG Road, Sangeeta reflects, with a tinge of sadness, “Oh, this place is beyond recognition today. It took three years of maddening urbanisation, for Gurgaon to transform from a tranquil township to an urban mess. By the end of 2005, the Metropolitan Mall and the DT City Centre had become hot spots. It became impossible to enter the MG Road on weekends. Today, when I stand next to the City Centre, I feel a stab of pity. The metro station resembles the Ajmeri Gate railway station, replete with hawkers, beggars and vendors. The famous ‘mall mile’ is crumbling like a cookie.”
The hordes of unchecked vendors near the City Centre Metro Station remain a security threat. The only solace is that once you are inside the complex, the serene surroundings make you forget the mayhem on the road. Since Sangeeta lives in Phase III of the complex, away from the main road, she feels blessed. The initial few blocks of the Heritage City complex continue to suffer from the constant honking, and the incessant noise and pandemonium of the MG Road.
Unlike earlier days, when the couple invariably kept comparing Mumbai with Gurgaon, they are completely at home today. The note of cautious optimism is evident when Sandeep says, “With proximity to the airport, the establishment of world class hospitals, regular arrival of multi-nationals, and a plethora of international level schools, Gurgaon is on the threshold of a giant leap. Irrespective of all the chaos, Gurgaon remains a city with myriad possibilities. It remains rooted in Indian culture, yet aspiring for a global play. ”