The dewy fresh breeze caressing your skin; the expanse of the lush green fields; the chirping of the birds; the warmth of the tea—sitting in the balcony—as the city slowly awakes…this romantic scenario played quite a role in Nita and Samarjit Das moving to Gurgaon.
“We moved to Delhi from Ahmedabad in 2000. For three years we lived in Vasant Kunj. But then we decided we had enough of cramped spaces. We always wanted some place with a lot of green. We wanted to enjoy our morning tea sitting in our balcony, surrounded by greenery, close to nature. We wanted it calm and quiet,” says Nita.
And so the hunt began. There were the options of Dwarka or Noida. But eventually, Gurgaon emerged the winner—thanks to the city’s wide open spaces.
“Dwarka was a concrete jungle; there was no greenery, and the societies were not half as good. The apartments here have much better space planning,” contends Samarjit, who works for a commercial refrigeration company. As for Noida, the UP city did not come up to their expectations. “Though I took up a job in Noida, I continued living in Gurgaon. I was happy to cross Delhi to go to Noida everyday; but the thought of moving there was out of question. Though I must say that lately Noida has improved a lot,” he adds. The Das’ moved to Gurgaon in the beginning of 2003, and are presently staying in Park View City 1, on the Sohna Road.
Going back to their first year in Gurgaon, Nita recalls, “We were then living in Uppal’s South End, behind Omaxe Mall on Sohna Road. Can you imagine, we were just three families in that whole complex; and we were the only occupants in the front row? And beyond our complex it was just open fields,” recalls Nita. “All these structures hadn’t come up. There were green fields all around,” she adds, gesturing towards the high-rises across the road.
Asked if they were scared, she agrees “it was a little daunting.” But she is quick to add that it did not deter them from staying on. “I would not have returned to Delhi. The security system was so good here; we were not really that scared.”
Security is a high priority for the Das’. Says Samarjit: “I am out a lot on tours. For me it’s important that when my wife is alone, she feels secure. They have a high level of security here. So I really don’t worry much.”
For his wife, however, facilities like 24 hours power back-up and non-stop water supply also score high. “I am a stickler for cleanliness. I need a lot of water; I like my space washed and clean. Delhi mein paani bhar bhar ke rakhna padhta tha. For some reason or the other, there was always a water crisis.” She grimaces at the memory of buckets and drums of water stacked in the bathrooms.
The cleanliness factor, however, does not remain confined to the four walls of her apartment. With fewer slums and bastis, Nita says, “Even today, Gurgaon is far cleaner than Delhi; maybe dusty because of all the construction, but still cleaner.”
Even though the Das’ cannot imagine moving to any other city, Nita, a teacher with Ryan Public School, does not give full marks to Gurgaon. For her, one of the main drawbacks is parking. “Parking is a big issue here. There are malls, but parking is a chore. Cars are lined up in queues. It is very irritating.” She also points out that residents are being charged exorbitant rates for an extra parking in the residential complexes. “We get one parking in the basement. For our second car parking we have to pay Rs. 1.5 lakhs!” She agrees that the number of cars have also increased phenomenally in the last few years, as has the traffic. “The traffic has increased manyfold. But then, with the opening of the Golf Course (Extension) Road, traffic is now better,” she added.
Samarjit says that vis-a-vis Delhi, it is still easier driving on Gurgaon roads—especially since distances are much shorter, from one corner of the city to the other. However, it not just the issue of increasing private transport and the ever decreasing space for parking that worries him; it is the lack of good public transport. “When we came to Gurgaon, there was hardly any public transport. If you didn’t have a car, you were not able to move about. Even now, there are just the tuk-tuks, and some buses are also plying. With the Rapid Metro coming up, and taxi/auto services, hopefully things will get better; otherwise the city cannot function.”
There is yet another downside they feel that needs to be seriously addressed. Says Samarjit, “For a Millennium City, Gurgaon has a very bad drainage system. And during the rainy season it gets really aggravated. Roads too are in a pretty bad shape. Sohna Road is supposed to be a major thoroughfare. Do you see the condition? At the rate the population is increasing, I doubt if the infrastructure will take the load.”
If the situation is as bad as he says, why not move back to Delhi? As though anticipating my question, his response is immediate: “No way! For the same amount of money, the quality of life here is much better. Besides, Gurgaon also has a lot of potential. With corporate firms shifting here, the crowd is very cosmo; and they brought in a good, cosmo culture.” “We really love it here,” chips in Nita, supporting her husband.
The Das’ are going to move though. No, not out of Gurgaon. They have recently booked an apartment in Crescent Park, Sector 92, and they hope to move there as soon as it is ready. One more in the family—Cosmo Gurgaon coming up!