Greed and the under-served consumer

India has to be one of the countries with the most venal politicians and corporates. I'm not sayng all of them are greedy or venal but those that are are capable of going to any lengths.

I live in Gurgaon, supposedly the hip, happening suburb of Delhi. We live in one of the few housing societies which aren't high rise and actually have little patches of garden in front of each house. Some time ago, we became alarmed at the growth of high rise office complexes all around us, which were leaving no green space anywhere, and one of my neighbours went down to the municipal office to check if they could do anything about greening the area. Imagine our lack of surprise at being informed that the office complexes had come up in an area formerly earmarked for residential and green areas. This, when the municipal coding had restricted homes within our colony to 2 floors, claiming environmental concerns. Of course, an office building of 15 floors height at a minimum would pose less of an environmental hazard than a home with 3 floors, right?

The entire sector road, round the corner from our home, is dotted with monstrosities representing modern Indian construction. Monstrosities because they are all made up entirely of steel and glass, completely unsuitable for Delhi weather which is summer 8 months of the year. Not a single building has any architectural features which speak of India or the landscape in which they are set. And none of them has straight lines. It's as if someone told all the architects that designing buildings with slanting lines was in this year.

Quite apart from the lack of architectural intelligence, the buildings have been designed to maximise profit for the developer. The allocation of place for parking is so minimalistic it's not funny. So my office, which has 160 people, has been allocated 20 parking slots. That too in a suburb like Gurgaon which does not have any public transport and in which yellow and back taxis are not allowed. So people are forced to expedients like parking in empty lots ( all too few and rapidly filling up with more steel and glass) or in residential colonies nearby.

Further, Gurgaon is a hotspot for the IT and BPO industries, so each building is thronged by a swarm of Qualises and Indicas which are amongst the most undisciplined vehicles on the road, and which choke up traffic in and out of the building. Sometimes it can take up to 45 minutes or more just to pull in or out of the building gates. Moreover, because of the lack of parking space, visitor's cars are not allowed in and there's no provision for parking them anywhere else either. Visitors always end up late for meetings because they are driving around hunting for parking. If someone working in the building complex orders a taxi, they are forced to walk all the way out to the road because of the same issue, and since vehicles are not allowed to park on the road, they can spend ages waiting for the taxis to circle around. So basically, the office complex is designed for a mutant army of workers who are supposed to grow wings or 'apparate' a la Harry Potter and co., from their homes into their offices, who never need to have visitors or to go elsewhere to attend meetings themselves.

By the way, did I also mention the amazing architectural design of the driveway in front of each building which creates a roadblock if more than 2 cars pull up in front? Or the angle of the driveway which means you step out into a 4 inch puddle of water every time there's a five minute cloudburst?


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