The fateful day is here. After almost 13 years in this city, the time has come to say goodbye and move on.
I got married while living here, we had our kid here, bought our own apartment here; till a few months ago, I thought I would live here forever. However, the deteriorating air quality year-on-year and the complete apathy of the government decided otherwise.
For years, I watched the air quality go worse, for years I saw people turn a blind eye to it and eventually it became clear that this problem won’t be solved in the near future (or maybe ever).
I will miss
Spending my weekend at Ambience mall, perhaps my favourite place in the city. I still remember the first time I went there to buy formal shoes for my first job here (the job didn’t involve formal wear).
Having breakfast at McDonalds while soaking the winter sun at MGF metropolitan mall.
The (few) friends I had here and drinking beer with them at one of the many craft breweries.
The wide highways, flyovers and underpasses and sparse traffic.
The ease of getting things done and solving problems by throwing money at them. Apps and online services for literally everything.
Extremely fast same-day and next-day Amazon delivery.
I will not miss
The horrid air quality between November and January every year and the grey/brown skies.
The constant and relentless pitch of hindutva in every aspect of your life.
Kids as young as 12 driving cars with impunity.
People who cut in queue (in person or in their cars).
The mall is where you get to see the worst of humanity, as I have previously noted here, here & here. These days, they are full of covidiots. On a recent trip to Ambience Mall, I decided to observe them in detail and discovered that there are different types.
The first type are the ones who wear a mask, but keep their noses out of the mask. Their aim is to fool casual observers into thinking that they are fully masked, but the joke is on you, as their respiratory tract is actually completely unobstructed. They can get away with this in 90% situations with minimal inconvenience of a mask on their face.
The second type are the ones who wear a mask on their chin. They don’t pretend to be complying with mask rules, but have a mask dangling from their chin just in case someone challenges them, when they can quickly move the mask up and cover their faces like nothing happened.
The third type are the boldest. They won’t wear a mask at all. They won’t even pretend to wear a mask, nor do they carry a mask in their hand. They are above all this pretentious bullshit. They roam around openly without a mask, just waiting for someone to challenge them, so that they can inform them who their uncle/father is.
The saddest part of all this? It took me less than 2 minutes of sitting stationary in the mall to take these photos.
I have a long relationship with beer and our relationship has evolved over all these years.
I clearly remember my first beer (or any alcoholic beverage for that matter) which was at Orchid Lake resort next to the pristine Umiam Lake in Meghalaya. I was around 12 years old at that time & was going to Shillong with my uncle and his friend for the day from Guwahati & had stopped at that resort for lunch. My uncle and his friend ordered beer for themselves and offered me some. My first reaction was that it was bitter. I obviously kept that information to myself & commented that it was very tasty so as to not embarrass myself as less of a “man” in the presence of 2 adults.
I had beer a few more times with that uncle over the next few years but didn’t enjoy any of it.
When I went off to college at Nagpur, I was suddenly exposed to a whole plethora of alcoholic beverages. Beer was reserved for those hot summer days when we didn’t have electricity or had an exam the following day & didn’t want to get too drunk.
I remember one evening when Sood Sahib was feeling a bit low. I suggested that we drink some beer & his spirits lifted immediately. We bought beers from a store and some policemen tried stopping us on the way, but we somehow escaped, got soaked in the rain, reached home, dried up and enjoyed our beers.
I also remembering going to Urvashi with Neeraj after our gym sessions to drink beer with Tandoori chicken to aid our workout recovery. Beer also accompanied our jam sessions on numerous occasions.
My first major incident with beer was when I bought what I thought was “Haywards 5000” from a seedy store in Nagpur, went home and drank it alone. My roommate came home from college later to find me passed out with my head shaved. Later, when I regained consciousness, he also reported some strange behaviour from me but I would refrain from going too deep into those details. Later everything explained itself when we saw that the beer I had was actually a “Haryana 5000”.
When I moved to Gurgaon, I was exposed to a new world of freshly brewed beer also known as “artisanal beer” or “craft beer”. We used to go to Rockman’s Beer Island at Ambience Mall very frequently to drink fresh brewed beer poured out for us from taps.
We used to order barrels of this stuff and get hopelessly drunk. I remember one incident when we went to Beer Island with Soniel’s German colleagues, everyone got sloshed on beer and they ran away without paying for anything and we were stuck with the bill.
Another incident with beer I remember is when I had something called “Beer Buster” at an office party. It was beer mixed with Tabasco sauce and I had litres of it. When I came back home, I couldn’t sleep because the Tabasco was burning in my chest and stomach all night.
One of my best beer experiences was during my Beer trip to Bengaluru. We went to a place called Biergarten which was a huge open air pub surrounded by beautiful palm trees. The weather and the colour of the sky were unlike anything in Gurgaon. Even the washrooms had a killer view.
Not until the lockdown, when I was forced to stay without any beer for months did I learn the true value of beer (among other things). When the lockdown did open and I rushed to the nearest beer shop to buy some, I decided that I would start treating beer with more respect from then on. Yes, I would savour my beer more and learn to enjoy it.
I started drinking beer slowly, appreciating the textures and flavours and enjoying the taste rather than aiming to get hopelessly drunk.
When I drink alone at home, I never drink more than 1 or 2 cans at a time and I make sure I enjoy every sip. When drinking out with friends (rare), all these rules go out of the window, though.
3 cheers to beer and here’s to many more years of friendship.
Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is the Microsoft Lumia 950XL, which was my 29th phone.
I was super-excited to buy this phone since the day it was announced by Microsoft. In the months leading up to the actual launch, I used to send my family members to the Microsoft Store at Ambience mall every Sunday (one-by-one) to ask about the phone’s launch date. I even had a Google search alert setup which sent me emails as soon as any news article were published about this phone. Although this phone was great on paper (Great hardware, huge display, excellent camera), this phone was my 7th Windows Phone overall and by the time this phone launched, Windows 10 Mobile was all but dead.
I remember the day this phone launched; I had just started a new job that week. I immediately dropped everything I was doing and went to Ambience mall to buy it (For ₹55,000; of course, I had pre-booked the phone months ago). The store employees told I was the first person in North India to get my hands on this phone. At that time I thought I was special. In hindsight, it is clear now, I was one of the few fools in North India to buy a Windows Mobile (at the tail end of 2015).
Within months, Microsoft announced the death of Windows 10 for mobiles. Within weeks after that, app developers abandoned the platform. There was still a small community online of loyal fans but we were more and more reliant on 3rd party apps for basic services. Uber, specifically, was a huge pain point. There was no easy way to search for destinations, you had to zoom out on the map, zoom in to where you thought you wanted to go and mark the location manually.
I also remember claiming some of the phone’s cost from my company (There was a company BYOD policy) and my manager laughing at me that I spent such a huge amount for such a phone.
Slowly and painfully, over the next year, the number of useable 1st party apps dwindled to almost zero and I eventually made the jump to Apple’s (Walled) Garden putting an end to my Lumia misery. If I could do things over, I should have bought an iPhone for the same amount and prevented myself from a year of misery.
Today is Day 33 of the lockdown. In these 33 days I haven’t gone out of my apartment complex gate once. And it is starting to affect me in some weird and unexpected ways.
I do not miss socialising at all. In fact, I welcome this time away from unnecessary socialising.
I am having very vivid dreams and remembering them for a change. Normally I hardly have dreams and don’t remember them later.
I miss going to Ambience Mall, drinking coffee ☕️ at Barista, eating at Pizza 🍕 Express and just roaming around the mall. It is unlikely malls will open even after the lockdown is relaxed and I am not sure how the mall or the business inside will survive this.
I miss drinking fresh beer 🍻 at pubs. Again, not sure when this will happen again.
I miss eating out at restaurants. My thoughts especially drift towards Toninos at Two Horizon Center on Golf Course road
I miss driving my car 🚗 , while listening to BBC World Service.
I miss ordering stuff from Amazon, waiting for the delivery and unboxing the items.
I miss going to the park and walking🚶♂️ around.
I miss going to the nursery to buy new plants 🌱 and fertiliser.
I miss going to Galleria, sitting opposite the fountain and sipping Coca Cola.
As per the current situation, restrictions should start lifting in 11 more days, but I have a feeling that’s not going to be the case and things won’t start going back to normal for a long time.
It is impossible to go anywhere in Gurgaon (Sorry, Gurugram) without stumbling across such idiots. What a pathetic fool!
This one has a Mercedes Benz logo on his Nissan Sunny. Immediately reminded me of people who put Apple logos on their non-Apple laptops.
I do not understand what people achieve with all this. Maybe there are even bigger fools out there who actually believe that it is a Mercedes/MacBook.
On closer inspection, it turns out this guy is a McDonald Drive through VIP. I don’t even know what that means. In a drive through queue, when this guy comes along, they remove all the other cars and let him get his Vegeterian burger first?
So I was at the mall, sitting on a bench when I come across these two. The kid is almost 2 years old and still sucking on a soother. One look at his face and you are sure he is a Spawn from Hell.
While the Spawn from hell is hanging out with his man-servant, pulling his hair and being a dick in general, his father comes over and screams at the servant “Yaha kya marwa raha hai haraamzade?” (What are you doing here, bastard?) in front of his son.
Haraamzada and Spawn from Hell must both be partially deaf, because the father is shouting at the top of his voice.
Spawn from hell must want something from one of the stores, that his father is in no mood to spend money on, because he immediately lies down face downwards and starts beating his fists on the floor. The father gently kicks him over so that he is face up and cannot beat his fists anymore.
While the parents walk away, the haraamzada servant bends down to pick up the spawn. The spawn shouts “haraamzade” one last time before giving up and resigning to his toy-less fate.
What won’t people do for free stuff? Fisher and Paykel had an exhibition at Ambience Mall, Gurgaon where they had a chef make food using their products. People who sat for the demonstration would get this food for free.
We saw this scene when we reached the mall and after more than an hour later, while walking by, we saw the same group of people sitting there, licking free ice cream. Surprisingly, it was not people from the lower class who were wasting their time for free ice cream, bit rather well to do people. Pathetic. Bonus: Another (or the same) set of losers getting photos clicked in front of Valentine’s day decorations
I have been living in Gurgaon for almost 4 years now and I am yet to get used to this city. Without wasting any further time, here’re the Pros and Cons of living here Pros:-
1. The city is great to look at. When you cross the toll plaza from Delhi, you’re immediately confronted by the huge Ambience Mall on the left, following which there are huge office buildings and complexes on both sides of the road. It is evident that the builders have gone out of their way to impress visitors.
2. The availability of goods and services is good. Whether it be grocery, movies, electronics, computers, there are plenty of malls/markets to choose from. Most of them are open 7 days a week and you probably won’t have to go far looking for something wherever you stay.
Image Courtesy: wikitravel.org
3. The city is well connected to Delhi through Delhi Metro and through the upcoming Airport Express line. The railway station is an hour away on the metro. Connaught place is 50 mins away. South Delhi is half an hour away.
Image Courtesy: hindu.com
4. The airport is very close by. 15-40 mins depending on where you stay
5. Good career prospects. If you’re looking for a new job and have a particular company in mind, chances are, they have their offices in Gurgaon.
6. Excellent microbreweries. At last count, there were 6 microbreweries in Gurgaon, making their own beer and all of them are very good.
7. Heaven for drunkards. There are wine shops every 500 metres in this city and most of them are illegally open through the night. Most of them also have an adjoining eating joint.
1. Roads are pathetic. The only nice road to drive on is NH8; however, you do have to get off the highway to get somewhere and that is when you realize that the highway is just a facade, the rest of the city roads are pathetic.
Image Courtesy: 4.bp.blogspot.com
2. The city has witnessed unchecked growth, resulting which, there’s not enough electricity and water to feed all the malls, offices and residential complexes. Daily 4-5 hour power cuts are normal both in the summers and in the winters.
3. The roads/traffic conditions are not biker friendly. The only good road (NH8) does not allow motorcycles to ply on it. This creates a nightmare scenario for bikers, especially during peak traffic hours.
4. There are not many good scenic places/picnic spots to visit nearby compared to the other cities I have lived in.
5. Property rates/rents are through the roof. You have to be very rich to live in a nice locality. Still, you won’t get water or electricity
6. Most people are uncultured/uneducated. People drunk on the street, fighting, abusing is a common sight at night. Road rage is rampant and crime is common
All in all, I would prefer staying in Gurgaon than many places in India, but some major improvements are long overdue.