Pawan Soni (37), is an aware citizen. Maybe because he has seen a fair bit of India. Pawan grew up across various Indian cities, due to his father’s transferable job. Having completed schooling in Ghaziabad and college in New Delhi, Pawan’s home is where his job takes him. He works with a multinational firm in Gurgaon. The Sonis—a family of five—have made Gurgaon their home, for the last five years. “Our decision to move to Gurgaon was not something that we had planned. My parents were living in Ghaziabad. Since we moved to Gurgaon some five years ago, we’ve always lived in Divender Vihar, Sector 56. Over the years, we have seen many a mall and apartment come up. With the growth in disposable incomes, we had the option to move to a ‘posher’ locality; but we felt this area offered everything we were looking for,” says Pawan. “We chose this area because, apart from being close to my husband’s workplace, it offers everything—safe housing facilities, ration shops, restaurants,
a choice of social activities—all within the neighbourhood,”
adds Anuradha Soni, a homemaker, and a mother of two. Her daughters, Navya (4) and Bhavya (9), are students at the DPS Sushant Lok.
Even though the Sonis consider Gurgaon home, they unanimously agree that the “pace” of the city, in comparison to its growth and development, has taken a serious beating. “We have seen the city change demographically, socially and culturally, in a matter of a few years. There was a time when travelling from Sector 56 to Cyber City took 15 minutes. Today, getting to work in that time frame has become completely impossible,” says Pawan.
He firmly believes that the local administration should look to Noida for some serious administrative answers. “With the recent success of Noida’s mega Grand Prix event, and Gurgaon’s failure to pull off one of the most awaited concerts in town, you can’t help but make comparisons. In the last five years, a Millennium City like Gurgaon hasn’t come up with a single new flyover. Apart from NH-8, which was initially made to bypass Gurgaon smoothly, the local administration hasn’t made a single flyover. The point being that, our State government isn’t looking at the situation two years from now. Comparatively, Noida is far ahead when it comes to development. The administration is solving local problems that it foresees two years from now. A fast moving city like Gurgaon should learn from Noida’s example,” says Pawan.
Nonetheless, the Sonis are conscious about not sounding too pessimistic. “Every city has its highs and lows. Gurgaon has come a long way. Five years ago, the only form of transportation was private vehicles. Before coming into town, you had to organise how you would go about the city. The local administration has worked extremely hard to make this city more accessible. Today, the city can not only boast of the Metro, but some connectivity through local buses, taxis and auto rickshaws. It is also the first city to plan its own Rapid Metro Rail,” says Anuradha.
And somewhere, sometime their roots beckon. Despite enjoying the entertainment buzz of the city, with places like the Kingdom of Dreams and the Ambience Mall, what the Sonis miss at times is the small town life.“Although going to malls and watching movies are considered an ideal family pastime, what we miss the most are small places known for street food; or simply a place to meet friends, without having to enter a mall.