Its all about location Stupid: Gurgaon and its Sociology of Space

I have been a Gurgaon resident for half a year now, which is quite stunning in itself as I thought I would not survive here at all. It is a decent decent place, as I would like to contradict its detractors.  Gurgaon like Navi Mumbai, my quasi hometown is a satellite city originally planned to create space for the working classes to commute to the Central Business District in the morning and drain out the city later in the evening. But these cities have evolved to carve a unique urban footprint of their own with being Corporate Hubs with the signature DLF Cyber City or a Vatika Business Park in Gurgaon. These are all inclusive lifestyle hubs with their customised entertainment focal points as DLF Cyber City has its Cyber Hub with 600 meters of the best eateries lined up from the world over, a Hard Rock Café rubs shoulders with a Thai fine dining restaurant Soi 7 and the Singapore based Wine Company. Eclectic area, pretty women too. Amen.

A similar illustration for Navi Mumbai would be the IT Park Ecosystem around the swanky Vashi Railway Station with eateries, In Orbit Mall and nightlife hotspots  aka Rude Lounge. The Palm beach road resembles Sheik Zayed Road in Dubai more than the spatial landscape of a Nariman Point. The gentrification of Gurgaon and Navi Mumbai is the story of urbanization in India. The upmarket corporate locus Cyber City in Gurgaon is 30 minutes from the International Airport in Delhi and near the south Delhi hotspots of Saket, Vasant Vihar and Greater Kailash. Although the so called Millennium City of Gurgaon has a bad water and electricity issue; the Kohinoor of Haryana grows insatiately in to Rajasthan along the Jaipur Highway (may be because of the lower crime rates in Rajasthan).  Skyscrapers share the boundary wall with a society next door of low height buildings all over Gurgaon. DLF Phase 3 with U Block and Sahara Mall with Chakkarpur in Phase II which gives you a feel of a tier 3 town in India than Downtown Mumbai.  Gurgaon is much for the folks in Chakkarpur and U Block as it is for the Golf Course Road Residents. Local Politician Tayyib Hussein competes with a Yogendra Yadav and Rao Inderjit Singh here for the Parliamentary seat.

The spatial geography of Gurgaon follows the norms associated with Sociology of Space eschewed by Marxist Theorists such as David Harvey and Henri Lefebvre. The capital is concentrated round regions with access to markets and consumers. The money circulating in the global circuit of free market gung ho capitalism is embedded symbolically in the office towers of Gurgaon. Top Dollar Attracts Top Dollar, as simple as that crude maxim. The gated communities of DLF Phase 5 and Golf Course Road exude elitist values of exclusivity and privilege with American Style Suburban Homes. Exit a gated community and you are back to the harsh reality of pot holes which depict the crater of the moon than an urban centre. A light shower and the roads of Gurgaon are a muddy puddle. There seems to be governance disconnect somewhere.

The ordinary chap in Gurgaon drinks at Machan- a term burrowed from Punjabi for an open Attic at a countrywide home. The Machan in Gurgaon is a social institution (positioned next to an office complex at a traffic intersection like the Sector-29 Machan) as one (a lower to middle income working class chap) purchases the booze at the adjoining alcohol shop and get in to sit at an open air eatery where they have a rather mediocre band chugging out even more average fare which I guess suits the musical tastes of the intoxicated patron who wishes to forget the petty office politics. It is an embodiment of all the male stereotypes ringing in popular culture. It is an all-boys club.  The saving grace is the absence of a pole dance platform. The food is palatable, I must admit.

As the Indian Urbanization Story blazes its tracks, the spatial dynamics speaks a lot for the terms of reference regarding social justice.

 

 


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