Adecade ago, we had come to Gurgaon, in search of a dwelling —and were invariably struck by the majestic high rise apartments; so unlike the matchbox DDA flats. The wide roads, sparse population, fresh air and an office next to home was, well…utopia.
As I rewind, the ingrained images in my mind flow past. It was early October, and the crispness in the air held the promise of a cold winter. The first stop for our house-hunting spree was Heritage City on the MG road—nestling in the very lap of nature. While the husband was negotiating with the broker, I waited on a bench, next to the perfectly manicured lawn. It was a lazy Sunday morning, and the silence was interrupted by the trills and cries of dulcet birds. A flock of rare ‘yellow footed green pigeons’ waddled near the sprinkler on the verdant green expanse, pecking and shuffling their iridescent wings. Fresh after the monsoons, the renewed foliage—rejoicing in the morning rays of the sun—had cast a spell. When the husband returned and said, “The deal is not working out”, I was shattered.
A year later, in 2002, we revisited the same complex and realised our dream. Gurgaon those days was a fledgling city— open, serene and green. Two wheelers, autos and rickshaws were
a rare sight; and in the absence of mall mania, the MG Road
was a breeze.
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, and it became impossible to enter MG Road on weekends. On one such weekend, a friend, feeling the
onset of a heart attack, was unable to drive out of the complex—owing to the traffic mayhem. Thankfully, the pain was a false alarm.
A decade later, Gurgaon is enveloped in a dust haze. Today, when I stand next to the DT City Centre, I feel a stab of pity. The Metro Station resembles Ajmeri Gate railway station; replete with hawkers, beggars and vendors. The famous ‘mall mile’ is crumbling like a cookie.
Yes, I am obsessed with nostalgia, and obsessive nostalgia is imprisoning; but it breaks my heart to witness a squandered opportunity. Yes, Malls, Metros and Medanta have arrived —but so have mayhem, madness and muck. Unfortunately we can’t rewind the clock, can we?