What in India do I hate more than MG Road? Nothing. There is nothing in all of India worse than Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road, that ten kilometer stretch of pain upon which I stop-and-go for three hours of my day. MG Road is construction: the Delhi Metro, erecting itself on giant cement pylons, selfishly hogging the center two lanes in the name of urban planning and traffic reduction… what right does a transit system opening in 2010 have to inconvenience me in 2008?
MG Road is also destruction. Once upon a time the road gleamed with shopping malls and furniture stores; but two years ago, the government decided that these were illegal constructions necessary to be sealed. “Sealing” in practice means halfhearted bulldozing — enough to discourage inhabitance while creating the impression that you travel to Gurgaon by way of Beirut.
The government did this to these buildings two years ago, and this is how they left them, and this was my MG Road for my first four months in Delhi: honking and jerking my way past shuttered stores, broken windows, shattered concrete, skewed rebar.
But in February, commerce returned and rebuilding began. Recent workward slogs have beheld a new sight: men with sledgehammers gnawing at the piles of rubble, preparing for a new day when the Metro is complete, the traffic is reduced, the government is supportive, the shops are legal, and customers are extant.
Today MG Road’s endless flows of construction and traffic are brooded over by bored salesgirls staring glumly out of sharply-remodeled stores. Wicker World and Twinkle Sofa Mall have resurrected; but their customers have not. There’s nowhere to park, you see, that isn’t usurped by the glacial flow of cycles and bikes and Toyota Innovas.