Experience the ‘moment’ by #walking in your city: The good, bad and ugly of Gurgaon

Exploring a city isn’t necessarily about visiting a heritage site, park, entertainment hub or any other place of tourist importance. It can also be about experiencing the everyday. In my (often unsuccessful) pursuit for opportunities to get in a little bit of exercise into my routine, I ventured out onto the streets of Gurgaon for a walk. I consciously decided not to drive up to a park and walk inside it, a decision I partly regretted when I tried to navigate a heap of pig-strewn rubbish that came my way!

My adventure, which I will shortly document in pictures, did not strike me as blog-worthy until I came across this piece in Guardian on walking in the city. The article refers to French poet Louis Aragon’s book Le Paysan de Paris in which he writes about the walker’s ability to experience a ‘moment’ if “sufficiently alive to the nuances of place and atmosphere.” A bit of a philosophical conflict, but also intermingling, between surrealism and rationalism here, I agree. But it is exactly what I felt and enjoyed, the ability to experience my city the way it was, without curation or choreography.

My walk started from Shikshantar School in South City 1, where I dropped my son Udai for a football match, and ambled across a major road, then through a city park, via a small slum and default dumping ground for construction waste, through an urban village and finally back to base. I won’t dwell on the gaps in infrastructure. Broken footpaths and traffic lights that do not program for pedestrians are business-as-usual in Gurgaon, as in most Indian cities.

I do want to talk about the joy of seeing the city wake up, in a leisurely fashion, between eight and ten on a Saturday morning. I enjoyed the lack of reaction to a lone female walker in deserted parks and less populous roads of the city. I reveled in the absence of pre-meditation, in taking turns that led God knows where. It’s a perfectly legitimate way to experience my city, I thought, and I should do this more!

Shutters down, but so colourful in Village Silokhra

Shutters down, but so colourful in Village Silokhra

It's green and relatively clean, but deserted. One of the smaller parks in Leisure Valley

It’s green and relatively clean, but deserted. One of the smaller parks in Leisure Valley

Some drama in the sky....

Some drama in the sky….

Trying to get out of the park without back tracking. I knew I was in for some adventure here...

Trying to get out of the park without back tracking. I knew I was in for some adventure here…

Not so much fun walking through a pile of smelly malba (construction waster) with pigs for company

Not so much fun walking through a pile of smelly malba (construction waster) with pigs for company

Back inside South City I, where there is a beautiful public edge designed to offer seating/interaction space for the community...

Back inside South City I, where there is a beautiful public edge designed to offer seating/interaction space for the community…

Unfortunately much of this well maintained seating and green edge is cordoned off by ugly fencing, presumably to prevent "unwanted" elements from entering and using these spaces

Unfortunately much of this well maintained seating and green edge is cordoned off by ugly fencing, presumably to prevent “unwanted” elements from entering and using these spaces

Curious to know if these pretty spaces get used at all with only one tiny entry in an obscure corner! Frustrating to observe how communities take steps that reinforce class bias and make a city less livable

Curious to know if these pretty spaces get used at all with only one tiny entry in an obscure corner! Frustrating to observe how communities take steps that reinforce class bias and make a city less livable

An hour later, Silokhra is busy and active

An hour later, Silokhra is busy and active

This paint store was so cheerfully over the top!

This paint store was so cheerfully over the top!

Peek into Silokhra's lanes!

Peek into Silokhra’s lanes!

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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 February 2, 2015, in Travel & Experiences and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Having started walking to work instead of by car recently, I can totally relate to this. A park, construction malba, pigs & road crossings are things that I experience everyday – I guess these are Gurgaon’s trademark. And these walks to& from office have been quite an experience, a mildly satisfying one so far.
    Well written!

  2. Walking a city, any city, is the best way to explore it- that’s my travel mantra! I have explored my living surrounds In Gurgaon much the same way and your blogpost inspires me to write one of my own on similar lines. Coming soon! Cheers Mughda!!

  3. Been there for a week and love where Oberoi is located. I was staying there for work and walked in the serene roads, surrounded by trees. It can be beautiful.

  4. Good to find people are getting to show Gurgaon city to the world outside. Good coverage, will wait for more from you.
    I’ve too covered some random shots of Gurgaon here on my blog
    https://krishnavashistha.wordpress.com/category/photography/travel/india/haryana/gurgaon/

    Do check and let me know your opinion.

    Cheers!

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