Friday, July 27, 2007

Gyaan from Gurgaon

I've been in Gurgaon (Gudganva to the locals) for the last three weeks. It's been a VERY interesting experience so far... On the basis of my limited travels in and around this fine city (damn, I don't think the sarcasm came through as strongly as I intended it to), here are the top five things I learned/realized in all this time here...

MTR's ready meals ROCK! All one has to do is pop them in the microwave for a couple of minutes and out comes fresh tomato rice, pulao, alu mutter and a whole assortment of other Indian dishes. Manna from heaven from a bunch of bachelors with a combined culinary experience that does not extend beyond Maggi. (Coming soon: The Noodle Bar blogpost.) Speaking of which, here's a friendly tip from one who knows: having Maggi more than four nights a week can cause unpleasant sensations in one's stomach. I know people say consultants are always full of gas, but you really wouldn't want to prove them right in a literal sense.

This place is chock-full of lousy drivers. To the brim. I do not exaggerate. It is not uncommon to see a large truck zooming down a busy road in the wrong direction, a car choosing to travel half a kilometre in reverse just to avoid taking a U-turn, cycle rickshaws that Apparate out of nowhere (yes, I read Harry Potter 7 earlier this week), suicidal motorcyclists playing tag with Death, tempos carrying 400% their expected capacity careening past red traffic lights, traffic policemen waving their arms about ineffectually as a four road junction rapidly becomes a 15-directional traffic jam... on one day, it took us 40 minutes to travel home from work, a distance of about 1200 metres. The sad part is that it's not enough to be a good driver oneself. The maddeningly lousy road and traffic sense of everyone else forces one to conform, or get a severe knock or two. And yeah, just to add to the fun, I'm going to be buying a car in a month. Good thing I didn't tell the folks providing my life insurance about this.

Career options
It appears that most of the employment in Gurgaon is generated by just two roles - security guards and house brokers. Let me explain. Fuelled by skyrocketing growth in the services sector over the last few years, Gurgaon is a city that looks really stunning by night. Twinkling lights, enormously tall buildings and shiny glass in every direction, it's like Canary Wharf spread over about 50000 acres (I don't really know the area, I'm just throwing a figure so it'll sound impressive. Did it?). I've been told it contributes 35% of Haryana's income tax collection. The ever growing influx of multinational firms and their increasingly well-off employees has created quite a housing boom, and complexes of anywhere between three to ten 20-storey buildings comprising residential complexes is the norm, as are commercial complexes that satisfy two primary criteria - a. Glass everywhere and b. Never a normal cuboidal shape (there have to be weird angles, curves, shapes and towers jutting out, for some apparent reason).
More people implies more houses and offices. More houses and offices implies a greater need for protection/security given that the law and order situation here isn't anything to write home about (or rather, is something to write home about if your near and dear ones like reading macabre tales of robberies, road rage, murders and other assorted crimes). Hence, the need for security guards. Every major building has a posse of at least 4-5 of them, so if you're ever out of a job or fancy an alternate lifestyle for a while, you know what to do.
As I said earlier, more people implies more houses being built. And also more people searching for these houses. And also, given how much tax we're paying and how expensive living in this place is, more people searching for houses whose rent won't, ironically, drive them to the streets. Enter the broker. Usually an enterprising local chap armed with his trusty old bike and a vast network of fellow brokers, he is your guide through the frightening, wearying, frustrating jungle of house-hunting. For a commission, he'll take you to a bewildering array of flats that match your spatial and budgetary requirements, introduce you to (usually very well-heeled) landlords and help in negotiations. An extremely invaluable resource in the mad mad world of Gurgaon real estate.

Big Bazaar ROCKS. If only because it sells stock that's close to expiry at dirt cheap rates. And has fundoo offers along the lines of "Buy 4, Get 2 Free" on a range of products from hangers to juices to diapers (no, that does not mean I buy diapers. I was merely illustrating a point). Again, this is a godsend for someone who isn't making as much money as he thought he would be (@$#%& taxation, etc) and is looking to save as much as he can in a place where the local populace seems to be oozing wealth from every pore and the cost of living mirrors this fact. And, almost all shopping is done at malls. Huge, glossy, popping-out-at-you-everywhere-you-go, neon-and-hip-young-things-filled malls. There are very few local kirana store type areas around here, and none within easy reach of where I'm staying now... as a colleague put it, "Even to buy a toothbrush, one has to go to a mall!"

In this day and age of mass consumerism and general optimism about the state of the economy, it is apparently acceptable - in fact, quite the norm - to pay Rs. 175 or more for a movie ticket. I believe the average price is around Rs. 225. I haven't actually checked them out myself for fear that my wallet will scream in shock, jumped out of my pocket and down my throat and attempt to throttle me for having exposed it to so fearsome a situation, thereby causing me to die a painful death. Reliable sources tell me the accompanying popcorn costs upwards of Rs 100. My conscience does not allow me to wallow in such luxury, and I look forward to going back to campus and downloading all the movies I want to watch. With a Rs. 20 Maggi + Lime Juice combo to keep me company.

Well, that's it for now. More insights and experiences coming soon!

Monday, July 23, 2007


The Taj Mahal, timeless monument of eternal love.

The famed marble lovers' bench.

Me, all alone.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

AC, the Tagged!

I've been tagged by DD! Actually, she tagged me a long time ago... sorry for the delay ma'am :)

The rules:
1. Players start with 5 random facts about themselves.
2. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 5 random facts.
3. Players should tag 5 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

So here we go...

1. In school, I wrote a poem describing a battle between two much loved teachers fighting over who would take an extra class for us. This poem found its way to the Principal, who read through it, smiled and complimented me on my literary talent!

2. To date, Suraangani remains one of my favourite songs.

3. At one extremely drunken weekend in Oxford during my internship last year, I lost my passport while dancing in an Irish bar.

4. I like Himesh Reshammiya's music, and I'm not afraid to admit it.

5. I have an unhealthy fascination for British Reality TV (with the exception of mind-numbingly-boring, blatantly-exhibitionist, puke-inducingly-contrived Big Brother shows)

Rise, Nandan, Goach, Shrikant, Pps and Vishnu... I dub thee Tagged!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Alvida... for now

I'm off to work. At last. After cooling my heels at home for what seems like an interminable summer. Gurgaon awaits, and I strongly suspect it has no idea of the pestilence (i.e. me!) that is about to hit it.

I'm leaving tonight, and it'll be atleast a week before I can get my laptop and an Internet connection. Never fear, though, I'll be back! The last couple of months of relative peace and quiet have reawakened in me the desire to write and the realisation that I am back to blogging and enjoying it, almost as much as I did two years ago.

For those who were hoping (some quite fervently, I've been told) this would be the end of this blog, all I have to say is a mocking "Ha Ha!" (Listen to it here.) (APA Ref: Nelson from The Simpsons, for the benefit of the bugging stickler who posted the first comment to my previous post.)

Ciao, all!