Coming to terms with my hypocrisy: Urban vs Suburban in India- May 23, 2012

I don’t like the concept of a gated community, yet I live in one. I believe traveling by public transport is the right thing to do as well as immensely enjoyable and cheaper, yet I admit I do drive to work at least half the time. My action towards conserving electricity is to set my air conditioner’s thermostat to 27 degrees C instead of the preset 24 degrees C.  I can no longer live comfortably without air conditioning.

Someone asked me today whether they should invest in a posh apartment somewhere in Noida that would be delivered four years later, or buy a flat in a not-so-upmarket but conveniently located South Delhi neighborhood. I began to tell them about lifestyle choices and how, once they are made, they trap you in their iron grip, dictating your daily choices thereafter!

We should know! We moved to Gurgaon as renters initially. We were about to have a baby a few months down the line and where we lived in South Delhi, we couldn’t envision being able to even take the baby for a walk in a pram! The secure, open, green spaces and childrens’ play areas in Gurgaon’s gated colonies made perfect sense at that time and continue to do so now. Neighboring families were kind of clones of ours- similar age group, life stage, backgrounds, lifestyles, even aspirations at times. And so we bought into this lifestyle. We did not, however, bargain for a car trip for daily shopping and a completely automobile dependent urban environment where crossing a road could lead to a mental breakdown!

Inside the above-mentioned not-so-upmarket South Delhi neighborhood, afternoons are drowsy and evenings lively. Neighbors fight over water supply and often have nothing in common, but it’s possible to get all your household supplies within walking distance. Ice cream can run out at ten in the night in the middle of a dinner party and it would just mean running round the corner to replenish your stock!

I’m comparing the above two scenarios because price-wise, a family would have to make this sort of choice. I made mine for specific reasons, but now I live a life at complete odds with my ideological stance. Is that hypocrisy? Yes, it is. Can I or would I change that? No easy answers to that!

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About ramblinginthecity

I am an architect and urban planner, a writer and an aspiring artist. I love expressing myself and feel strongly that cities should have spaces for everyone--rich, poor, young, old, healthy and sick, happy or depressed--we all need to work towards making our cities liveable and lovable communities.

Posted on May 23, 2012, in Urban Planning & Policy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. gurgaon is good but south delhi is so central, and the power and water situation is reliable here

  2. Well said- as always! Making choices, and making peace with them, are such different things 🙂

  3. Hi Mukta. Very honest rendering of how hard it is to live by one’s ‘ideals’. Beliefs don’t translate into ‘behaviour’. 🙂 Eternal problem. Intention is an important variable in the prediction of behaviour. And it may be hypocrisy – only for the simple minded. Absolutes are difficult to live by. I’d begin with exploring the belief/assumption that you can’t live without airconditioning. Perhaps turn off the air con and open the windows and see if you can live with the difference. Every little bit is good enough. 🙂

    • I agree. We tried, but living on the top floor when max temps cross 40 degrees C, living without the AC was tough. We settled at never using the AC during daytime and setting the temperatures at 27 during the nights. opening the windows in Gurgaon means inhaling tonnes of dust unfortunately! So fresh air can be taken in small doses 🙂

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