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Gurgaon is home away from home for expats

india Updated: Jun 12, 2011 00:41 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi
Vimal Chander Joshi
Hindustan Times
Vimal Chander Joshi

Among the swelling crowd of thousands of corporate executives who get down every morning at the five metro stations in Gurgaon, there is a growing community of foreign nationals too, who are learning to keep pace with the city.

From haggling with autorickshaw drivers to remembering routes, they are fast melting into the crowd of the Millennium City.

Brazil Sergio Cordeiro, 24, a graphic designer from Brazil, uses public transport every day to go to his office in Udyog Vihar from his house in Lajpat Nagar, Delhi. Two months after coming here, he is confident on the streets. "I can easily haggle with rickshaw drivers and I often get a fair deal," he said.

When he came to Gurgaon for the first time, an autorickshaw driver charged R150 to take him to Udyog Vihar from MG Road Metro station. When he realised he had been taken for a ride, he switched to travelling by one of the 12,000 shared autorickshaws.

"I get down at MG Road Metro station, then take an auto to Iffco Chowk and pay only R5. From there I board another auto to go to Udyog Vihar, paying R10. Finally, I catch a rickshaw to reach office by paying R20," said Sergio.

"This is how I easily save R100 every day by not taking an unshared autorickshaw," he added.

Sergio feels Gurgaon represents two sides of India - the growing India and the poor India. "I find mammoth buildings built in aesthetically strange designs, and right outside I see people sleeping on the roadside," he said.

An expat from Ukraine, however, said the Millennium City is not very friendly. She had to be convinced hard before she agreed to tell this reporter that she stays in South City 1.

"One has to be extra careful in this city. You can't afford to be friendly with strangers," she said.

But she is happy to have come here because she found the perfect job at a Gurgaon hotel, which she wouldn't get in Ukraine. "I applied for a good job in several countries and I found it in Gurgaon. This city has a plenty of opportunities for everyone," she added.

Even Sergio came here in search of a break, which he got with the help of AIESEC, a students' network present in 107 countries.

"I graduated from Belas Artes University but had to settle for a marketing job back home in Brazil. It was only after I came to Gurgaon that I found the right job in graphic designing," said Sergio.

Staying in a foreign country hasn't deprived Sergio of his culture or friends. He plays football every Sunday morning with friends from Brazil at a stadium in south Delhi. "Being a Brazilian, we can't stay away from soccer, no matter which corner of the world we are staying," he said.

His busy schedule prevents him from going to Gurgaon malls. “I have been to the much talked about place, Kingdom of Dreams. But next month I will visit many places when my girlfriend comes to see me. And before I return to Brazil in December, I will spend at least a month travelling," said Sergio.