Monday, March 06, 2006


The beginnings of a rant against...

I could loathe it just for the names. Beverley Park, Windsor Court, Richmond Park, Malibu Towne. Or be enthralled and repelled by the surprising French-ness of the spellings. Malibu Towne, Traffice Police, Margine Traffic Ahead. But why hate a place for wanting so desperately to be elsewhere? For being aspirational, upwardly mobile and screamingly schizophrenic? For paying semiotic homage to Amreeka, Vilayat and the French all at once? So no, I will not hate Gurgaon. I will try and love it for all it has to offer.

I love it, for starters, for the dust. Dust which rises out of the massive excavations where the basement parking lots of future mega malls will soon be built. Dust which piles up ankle deep along the side of the massive elevated superhighway being built to connect Gurgaon to the International Airport. Dust which blows into your eyes, your hair, your nose if you try anything as daft as actually walking in Gurgaon, negotiating the roads outside of the sealed environs of an airconditioned vehicle.

The ever present dust, the absence of footpaths, the general chewed up scruffiness of everything but the mall fronts – Gurgaon is one of those boom towns straight out of the Wild West, where they built opera houses in the desert heat without actually going to the bother of building hospitals and schools, or even having an audience. There is a faint robber baron gold rush gleam to all those mirrored buildings, like they have been willed here by some megalomaniac from a Werner Herzog film. Like Fitzcarraldo building an opera house in the middle of the Brazilian rainforest...

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