GURGAON, INDIA: The pollution is no joke. Haze, dust from endless construction, smoke from crop burning, coal fire power plants, gas generators, cars… all combined with a thick humidity. This mixture of smog permeates the sinuses leaving one with a constant dry, chalky taste in their mouth.
I arrived with no problem. My driver was prompt, helping me with my nine suitcases. He was chatting away the entire drive over about his service and experience (he used to work at the US Embassy). His name is Arun Kumar. I have to try very hard to remember people’s names as it does not come natural to me.
Ready upon arrival, my first few hours in the flat was a bit like mild torture after an overnight flight. I sat through a few hours of induction and a walk through of the entire inventory of the contents, how the gas works, how the back up generator works, all the kitchen and dining wares, and most importantly the water. I receive drinking water deliveries as often as I need but have to remember to order. Note the funny way they call things: the cable box is a “set of boxes”, a mosquito repellent plug-in is called “good night machine”. I have a housekeeper who comes everyday except Sunday. The floors are marble, bedrooms are the exception with faux hardwood. It’s clean, airy and bright. Brightness is the main factor for why I chose this place; it is what I felt I would need to feel positive and comfortable. The other places I looked at were dark, damp and depressing. The fact that they were built for a transient (almost anonymous) type of individual gave me the slightest impression of what an olde time opium den must of been like, strewn bedsheets, dodgy men at the front desk, lax security guards outside chain smoking, nameless temporary neighbors from anywhere in the world each week, and everywhere dust. To live in a place like that for a few months would be doable, but a few years would be akin to a prison sentence – and for this assignment to be a success I have to be here for a couple years at least.
So where I ended up is on the 28th floor of an expat high rise compound, of which there are many such complexes – or tower blocks. I have met one American woman so far, from San Francisco; Mary lives on the same floor as me in the next tower. I wonder if it is her plants on the balcony I see from my bedroom. There are local Indians living here, but the idea is that places like this cater to the burgeoning expat community working in the international companies that occupy the skyscrapers of Cyber City. My next door neighbors appear to be an Indian family with domestic birds of some sort. I hear their hurried chirping in my living room throughout the day and wonder if the family will hear my ukulele practice sessions. There is a noticeable lack of outlets for electrical plugs, then again the power does go out frequently so…
My flat is enormous – three beds, three baths, separate servants room and bath, three balconies which overlooks the DLF Golf Course and Country Club, as well as the construction of the undeveloped sector DLF and railway system. In the distance are the many skyscrapers that make up Gurgaon, and where my office is located. I could see it clearly yesterday; today not so much.
I have turned one of the rooms into my office / yoga room – it is called the Green room because of the green furniture, the paperwork lists it as the “resting room”.
Having completed the bureaucratic nonsense of house paperwork, there are still a lot of immigration bits to sort out tomorrow. I have to have a number of passport photos taken as you hand them out for everything here. Literally.
Today’s main task will be the grocery store which is conveniently located onsite. Need a few things… Let’s hope they take cards or have an ATM!
Later a ukulele practice and prepare for my first day in the office.
That’s the business!