2053. The hundredth dawn of City Beautiful breaks over the still waters
of the Sukhna Lake. A lissome twentysomething grinds to a halt in her
jogging attire. Zoom. Click. She freezes the memorable moment on the
nail-size screen of her digicam-equipped thumb-size handset. Then, this
director of the Advanced Art of Living Club zooms forward, her limbs
swinging in rhythm to the shlokas being relayed on her multi-task
mobile. She has a tough time threading her way through the teeming
hordes of migratory ‘birds’ that line the edges of this water body.
The ‘birds’ are of the human kind, of course. There’s Mr Hu’s Hu
from Japan, a heavyweight (literally and figuratively) of the city’s
IT Park, who drives up for his walk in a Merc. Then there’s Mr Kyun
Kya Kyi from Thailand who’s currying favour with bureaucrat Mr Khao
Piyo for a license to open a Thai restaurant. The morning walkers native
to the city stand relegated to the fringes—of the social circuit as
well as the lake front. They confer in a corner to plan a sequel to the Return
of the Native. The overcrowded lake has become a no-happiness (Sukh-Na)
land for the serious walkers. It is the new Melting Plot of
Multi-cultural Nature-loving Corporates (MNCs).
Hair hangs another tale. That of the white beards and balding crowns of the retired gentry. Gone are the days of silvery strands. Golden browns, deep plums and deeper auburns are the shades to dye for. They’ve made this into a city of rangeen darian. Hair loss in ageing residents doing the valley’s rounds is now a case of hair apparent. Recycling of falling hair and genetic follicle implants have redefined the look of the city’s Bald and Beautiful.
The visual feast offered by the Leisure Valley is, however, offset by an eyesore of the City Centre. Diminutive beggars stand as an ugly footnote in the new skyline dominated by maha-multiplexes, mega malls and PVRs. The members of the Begging Bowl Inc have polished up their act though. One urchin grins from behind half a pair of Ray Bans. Half because it’s second-hand. But it suits beautifully his act of a half-blind person. Another one spouts Queen’s English into his mobile phone as he taps a car window for a tip. His bhasha, however, has nothing to do with the British monarch’s language. This ‘queen’ is the Godmother of the local beggar mafia. Her Satta spreads far and wide. And it’s her instructions they receive on the cellphones, telling them to move to sectors where there’s higher Paisa Vasool.
Talking of higher things, the flyover over the Aroma crossing provides the ultimate high of life in the fast lane. It’s choc-a-bloc with mega cars, racy sports models and houses-on- wheels that zip by at supersonic speeds. Phew! Their owners whiz into the future to the wacky beats of remakes of remixes. Chatty hosts of Radio Busy Buzz and Radio Chandigarh Chilli make those behind the wheel feel as if Koi Mil Gaya.
This flyover is the gateway to the happening hub of the town. Where there were once rows of eateries in Sector 35, there now sprawls a single-roof, multi-cuisine food court. Here, speciality cuisines call the shots in a day and night gastronomic match or, rather, mix’n’match. Indigenous dishes like Assamese or Bhutanese try to outmatch the Lebanese, Japanese and other firang exotica. In this lavish spread of menu and venue, it’s the foodies who have a field day. Fusion of tempting Aroma’s with sound Kwality of service has the gourmands raving "Wah! Chandy." Pizza Mansions, Slippery Ice pubs and Caf`E9 Night joints make the south of the city the Shangri La of the yuppie crowd and the Khyber pass to the Zone of Promise. Here’s where the action is, whether you Chop Sticks or chew Mr Burger.
With the southern sectors
becoming a pulsating carnival of night life, the sleepy North gapes
wide-eyed at the yawning North-South divide. North Bloc thinks up ways
to snatch the limelight from South Bloc. Since ‘hot spots’ are the
password to South Bloc’s power, North Bloc touts ‘open spaces’ as
its USP. Sector Wars spark off a cultural explosion and fusion
confusion. Though old remains gold, the new beckons the bold. The city
wears a new face. A cosmopolitan veneer over the old-world complexion.
Welcome to the city of rangeen darian (dyed beards) and haseen
savariyan (alluring joy rides) !