Outsider in Gurugram: ‘London was cushy, but life is easier here’ | gurgaon | Hindustan Times
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Outsider in Gurugram: ‘London was cushy, but life is easier here’

Ambika Walia left the first world pleasures of London to set up a home DLF Phase V in 2011. She works as a strategist in a multinational firm and loves how Gurugram has made her life easy.

gurgaon Updated: Jun 06, 2018 11:20 IST
Ambika Walia
Ambika Walia
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Gurugram,Gurgaon,Outsider in Gurugram
Ambika Walia at her residence DLF5, in Gurugram, on May 26, 2018.(Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

I recall the day when my closest friend had wagered that I wouldn’t survive in Gurugram for more than a year and quitting a cushy job and life in zone 1 London was a big mistake. And here I am, living in Gurugram for exactly 6 years, 6 months now, clearly winning more than the bet. Taking stock of my life here, I must confess that I have been happier than even I had expected. Of course my expectations weren’t exactly soaring when I had made the decision to become a single member household in the Millennium City. The true test of any city in the world is the spirit of freedom and growth it offers and I’m most definitely not disappointed today.

The decision to live in Gurugram was mostly borne out of my walking-to-work lifestyle in London. It turned out to be one of the most time-saving decisions I ever made as I can now avoid the harrowing commute to my workplace every day. It wouldn’t be fair to not mention the special understanding of my parents, who made it possible, despite the omnipresent ‘log kya kahenge’ contagion.

Initially, I was over the moon by the simple conveniences like a cook, cleaning lady, driver, which were luxuries in London. To be honest, most people of my generation from the middle class are a tad spoilt and having multiple domestic helps is akin to our birth right. In terms of lifestyle it wasn’t a big step down. Most brands that I bought in London are available here, even the Jamie Oliver pasta sauces! The euphoria wears off when suddenly the work hours expand to take sheen off the relaxing weekends, which are another fundamental right in the making. However, at times, I almost feel it’s alright to have a work-life imbalance and witness the incredible transformation happening in the continuously evolving Indian economy.

Start-ups in Gurugram have made everyday lives simpler. From not stepping out of the comfort of the house, to practically avoiding all human contact through the app world, it’s possible to source all essential and non-essential items. Thanks to the e-commerce biggies and the doorstep delivery of milk, groceries including fresh vegetables, including food from my favourite restaurants or even the radio cabs, health tests, miscellaneous home repair services, the list goes on. And needless to mention most of it is hassle-free for the consumer, while the start-ups figure out their business models and gladly burn the cash to show revenues, without worrying too much about their bottom lines. I wish much of the consumer delight continues even after the bottom lines’ pain alleviates.

My dream is to embark upon stimulating opportunities and positively impact the society. The defining difference is that in India right now, across many levels, it’s still a distinct possibility. Despite the grinding infrastructure bottlenecks in Gurugram, there is a hope that they will ease off slowly but surely. I have learnt to be driven yet being patient, and struggling to find the balance. When I’m faltering at times, I do yearn and imagine how life would have been different. But regrets have been contained largely due to my wonderful friends, family and mentors.

My friends in London wouldn’t mind me saying that I don’t miss anything except maybe the clean fresh air and sipping wine next to the Thames.

Gurugram is a city of outsiders. Tell us how you made it your own. Send your story, pictures and a brief profile at <outsideringurugram@gmail.com>.