It was my first visit to Gurgaon, nay Gurugram, “The Millennium City” by bus. I travelled from Chandigarh by a ‘supposedly’ luxury coach ‘Volvo’ of Haryana Roadways. There is nothing luxurious about the bus any longer except for the air conditioning and the reclining seats. The fleet of Volvo buses introduced more than a decade ago is crying for maintenance. The curtains have disappeared from its windows. The interiors of the bus look shabby. Oh! I am digressing. The focus of the piece is not the upkeep of the luxury buses used by a few but the condition of the bus stand meant for everyone.
As the bus rolled into the inter-state bus in the heart of Gurugram, I wondered if that small, dingy bus stand was of a city that boasts itself to be the millennium city. At about eight-thirty pm, not so late for summers, the dimly lit bus stand looked desolate and scary. As I alighted from the bus and started waiting for my son, an auto-rickshaw with two menacing-looking men perched on the driver’s seat approached me .I felt a strange fear when the men asked me if I needed a ride.
For my return journey, when I reached the Gurugram bus-stand to catch a morning bus, the place was in a total mess. The entire parking area for the buses was flooded. Even though the rain at night was not so heavy, lack of proper drainage had converted the area into a pool of water. As I waded through ankle deep water to board the bus, I saw a huge govt. hoarding of Gurugram’s Dengue-free campaign. What an irony! There was a billboard of Swachch Bharat at the bus stand but no swachchta on the ground- heaps of garbage, dirty and smelly toilets.
The name of the city may have changed, but it shoddy, dirty, unfriendly and unsafe character hasn’t.
(Published on 2 Jan 2019 in Chandigarh Times)