‘Work hard party harder’. If the Millennium City were to ever have a tagline, this adage would be a fitting description of its character.
For the lakhs of urban professionals of Gurgaon – a city that literally never sleeps owing to BPOs that run 24x7 - there is as much scope for leisure as for pursuing their professional aspirations.
When the Sun sets and it’s time to unwind, the Millennium City offers a very distinct and heterogeneous mix of leisure activities.
With more than 250 pubs and bars, over 10 luxury hotels, the country’s first night-golfing facility, one of the few ice skating rinks, India’s first microbrewery, an upcoming beer garden, a live entertainment destination, a cultural centre and a plethora of multiplexes – Gurgaon has something to offer to everyone.
Not only that, the city has also hosted many international musical names such as Guns ‘N’ Roses, Bryan Adams, Akon and David Guetta, pushing the leisure quotient of the city quite a few notches up. These events saw people coming from all corners of the country.
The city boasts of 50 malls and shopping complexes - one of the favourite haunts of city dwellers as these offer options such as movies, bowling, dining and shopping.
“Gurgaon doesn’t let you down when you want to unwind,” says 42-year-old Sanjeev Singh, who lives in a sprawling villa at one of the posh condominiums.
“It has all that is needed for a fun-filled evening or weekends - pubs, restaurants, malls, golf courses, luxury hotels, multiplexes,” says Singh, an entrepreneur.
When he’s in mood for some adventure, Singh often goes for off-riding to explore nature. Many denizens here are part of a hobby group, ‘terrain tigers’, as part of which they explore the Aravalis.
Such hobby groups are a distinct feature of Gurgaon’s life after work scenario. Some other popular groups are - Let’s walk Gurgaon, a group that organises leisure walks; Gurgaon Drum Circle, a platform for residents to play music together and Pedal Yatris, a group of cycling enthusiasts.
The rise in the number of such groups is attributed to the fact that most young professionals here are migrants and seek friends and fellowship in the absence of their families around them, says Vidyun Singh, director of programmes at Habitat World, the body that runs India Habitat Centre in New Delhi and Epicentre in Gurgaon.
Viraf Sarkari, director of city’s cultural hotspot Kingdom of Dreams (KOD), says that being a corporate hub, Gurgaon has to have leisure avenues for everyone – from a low-paid executive to the high net-worth individuals.
The city is slowly warming up to sports enthusiasts. Duplays, which was founded in Dubai by expats looking to play recreational sports, recently started operations in Gurgaon as well.
The firm ‘hires’ playgrounds for those interested in having a game or two of football, cricket or any other sport. “Professionals can register to play any sport of their choice every weekend against an hourly charge of Rs 150-R200,” says Dhruv Swamini, a former management consultant with Mckinsey who runs the Gurgaon leg of the firm.
“We have more than 1,300 individuals registered with us,” she said.
Leisure that burns a hole
The city has a sizeable chunk of population trying to gain its foothold in the industry. They form a major workforce of the rising banking and BPO industries as demand for financial services and products have gone up in this corporate heartland.
For them, leisure doesn’t translate into expensive activities such as golfing and pubbing.
“If we want to unwind, we prefer getting some beer at home and cook our own food rather than venture into Gurgaon’s expensive bars,” says 21-year-old Ashish Kumar, a BPO executive who recently shifted to Gurgaon.
“If I were to go out every weekend, I would be in some serious debt,” says Trina Prasad, who recently moved here from Ranchi.
Being the liquor hole that Gurgaon is, the city often invites unruly elements who play spoilsport to the city’s otherwise enviable nightlife.
“It’s not safe to drive around in Gurgaon on weekends as drunk men create nuisance around liquor vends,” says Sanjeev Singh’s wife Vinni.