City Hangout – Cyber Hub, Gurgaon
Ten years of the Hub.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Some shoppers are strolling down the promenade with a more easy-going stride than others. Some of those others are looking a tad dazed by the scale of things. The showrooms are grand. The hoardings are huge. The pathway are too-too wide. Even the sky is so on your face.
Cyber Hub turns ten this year, and still overwhelms us as a place that sprang up from nowhere. The glass surface of any of the high-rises here reveals nothing but the reflection of fellow high-rises. Like most of these parts of Gurgaon, it appears bereft of memories, bearing no history. But Cyber Hub actually has a very old soul, a soul that has hopped frog-like through numerous re~births, linking the Delhis of many eras—from the turn of this century to centuries ago.
The capital’s earliest surviving destination that married bazar shopping to landscaped exteriors was Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, set up by Princess Jahanara in 17th century. The legacy passed to colonial-eta Connaught Place. The post-independent avatars included Basant Lok Market and PVR Saket. Both blazed brightly, before handing over the torch to Ansal Plaza in 1999. Eight years later, the brand-new Select City Walk mall in Saket unveiled novel vistas—a gigantic air-conditioned inside with a gigantic outside. For the first time, we Delhiwallas could spend hours—whole day if you will—walking, loafing, eating, window-shopping, watching a movie, and walking again, without leaving the premises.
The most radically upgraded version of Chandni Chowk came up in 2013, with Cyber Hub. The vast outdoors thread a loopy way through showrooms, restaurants, bakeries, terraces, corridors, staircases, escalators, etc. This evening, the windswept esplanade is milling with “the young and the affluent, searching for new experiences”—to steal words from the Hub’s own website. Some citizens are dressed more formally; they must be employees of surrounding office towers. Suddenly, a cry in the crowd. A woman spots a known face. Her mobile-holding arm reaches out.
“O my God, Smriti!”
“Gaganpreet! I mean what are you doing here?!”
Most interesting is to stand by the glass walls of a central cafe, the folks within looking like fish in an aquarium: a blue-haired woman, a tattooed man with chest-touching beard, a MacBook (which too is looking like a stand-alone hipster).
There’s also a park, with tables, chairs, fake grass and real frangipanis. The park people currently include two boys, his head on his shoulder.
Night descends. In an office tower, a lone silhouette is sighted.
A life in the Hub