Gurgaon 3 Years on.

November 12, 2009

in india

I spent most of 2006 in Gurgaon, India. Although an ancient town, at that time the new mall capital of India was roughly five years old. Today it’s not yet 10 and yet after two visits there, this trip it felt surprisingly more lived in. Three years ago I was shocked by the generators in every building, the generally poor infrastructure and the general quality of water. I certainly won’t tell you that they have disappeared, or the dust that blows a brown color everywhere.

Still, while not charming, it is incredibly impressive. Outside China (where I still want to go) and outside our general western perspective we don’t think of building a city for millions in less than 10 years. Conceptually this is no longer a one-off experiment in India. There’s the potential to grow another 100 Gurgaons…. and it’s likely that over the next decade the speed with which these new emerging mega cities are created just accelerate.

Here’s a parallel observation. Some of the early buildings in Gurgaon are looking quite tired. In fact they suffer from some lapses in quality workmanship. However, just looking at some of the new malls, and business buildings I can say that the workforce is now much better, and more capable. While I’m told there are still millions of square feet of available space, the building appears to be continuing unabated. For part of my stay I was in another apartment in one of the older areas of Gurgaon. In fact not far from the Amsoft office I spent so  much time at. This community felt lived in, it didn’t feel like a new development. The local stores were mostly the same ones that had established themselves some years ago. Now they were thriving.

I also visited some new malls like the Ambience Mall (one over a kilometer long and up to six floors) and one that had been close to my old apartment. The latter had always focused at bringing in more of the traditional businesses. Eg the ladies and gents tailors. 3 years ago I expected it to be dead. Today despite it’s unusual floor design it appeared to be thriving now with a big Reliance superstore in the basement and all decked out for Diwali shoppers. Again, lived in and used.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised. Gurgaon is not yet even near perfect, neither is it my retirement target or a place I want to live 100% of my time. Yet another stint there would never scare me. In fact it remains awe inspiring.

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