Monday, December 20, 2010

Why Gurgaon badly needs a Julian Assange

Last week has been special for people who drive up and down the millennium expressway. I usually drive up to Delhi and drive down to Gurgaon to get back home every afternoon from the university. In the morning when I drive up, I tail cars bearing HR number plates; vice versa on the other side of the road.

HRs head for Delhi; DLs head for Gurgaon. Thats the morning routine; come evening, the roles are reversed. Why has it been special? The weather, despite all the doomsday prediction being put out by weathermen desperate to get the fog in (thats their stock in trade; when fog hits NCR, TV channels run to weathermen), held up beautifully. Every days paper held grim promise of the fog setting in the next two days. Every morning from my bedroom window, I would see the sun rise from the horizon, framing the top of Gurgaon One (a set of apartments due east of where I live in Sector 23) like a helmet atop a celestial biker. I have done more surya namaskars in the past month than my entire life put together. (In a manner of speaking that is; actually I just said Hi and looked hard at the the low UV sphere to soak in some Apollonian energy, which some yoga aficionado had once told is the ultimate life force).

The highway has been bathed in a mellow yellow light in the afternoons, soaking the fields on either side with a golden glow, and dancing past structures tall and small. The clear sky, the stretched out views (so rare in big cities that inevitably are terribly polluted and therefore do not allow you to see anything beyond a few hundred metres). I have often shouted out to myself as if struck by a moment of epiphany. Glorious I have shouted, more than once. The drive across Gurgaon has been no less rewarding.

The recently constructed ridge road, Gurgaons equivalent of what Delhi has always boasted as its great outdoors experience, dives down from MG road just short of Guru Dronacharya Metro station to smartly circumvent the Millennium City, skirting past Phase I and curving majestically past the Aravallis (whatever little is left of it after so many years of destructive settlement) to join the DLF Golf Course road. The evening sun plays wonderful games with the landscape these days. The hills are bright orange and even the tall buildings that dot the landscape opposite it assume qualities that border on the picturesque. Beauty has its special allurements. It makes you imagine possibilities that otherwise are denied to your consciousness. These past few days have been beautiful, with crisp and clear air, warm sunshine complementing dipping temperatures and brilliant evening light.

What beautiful thoughts can alight upon a Gurgaon resident, you might ask? Are we not all besieged by a dysfunctional system that is continually attempting to make sense of a reality that is way above its category. One reason why few things work in Gurgaon is because the people whose responsibility it is to make things work have not the faintest clue about how to make things work. We have a provincial administration in charge of a (if not the) Millennium City. The most beautiful thought perhaps is the human potential of this place. Hidden in its steel structures is perhaps another Assange. With so much techie talent ruling the office mile in Gurgaon, who is to say that, inspired by Assange, a Gurgaon tech genius might not take up arms against the system and expose its under belly.

What if we have our own leaky Prometheus. Greek legend has it that Prometheus, Zeuss (Zeus is the Greek equivalent of Indra in Hindu mythology) son, stole fire from the gods and gave it to humankind. Fire became the game changer for men. Fire made humans almost as powerful and evolved as the gods. Zeus punished Prometheus by having a bird of prey eat his liver everyday (the liver would re-grow as the next day turned). Assange is like Prometheus, giving us common people a tool to beat the big boys with. Maybe Gurgaon will produce the next Prometheus. With an Assange like figure, and a wikileaks type of forum, we can document all the corruption and filth and neglect that defines our lives. Having done that, we can at least hope for the day when the heavenly sunset of a clear December day will cast its magical light over a truly modern and evolved city.

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