Words and photos by Kul Bhushan
If you like a day trip to Silicon Valley while living in New Delhi, head 32 kms (20 miles) southwest to Cyber Hub in Gurugaon, Haryana.
As you approach Gurugaon, massive glass clad skyscrapers overpower you; a suspended rail track with metro trains speeding on it; and broad highways glide over flyovers.
These unending skyscrapers hum with headquarters of major multi-national corporations from USA, Europe and the Far East, almost a hundred major BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) call centres and software and hardware companies. Tens of thousands work in them and they need food.
For them, amidst these skyscrapers, is Cyber Hub, India’s first integrated food and entertainment destination. Cyber Hub is huge, spread over 200,000 square feet with sky walks and state of the art infrastructure.
If you arrive around lunch time, thousands of young, smartly dressed, men and women are walking around making their choices for a meal at one or more of the scores of smart eateries offering enticing food with some off-beat names.
These IT legions are between 20 and 35 years, invariably dressed in jeans and black jackets with Smratphones in their hands. They range from basic call centre operators with American accents to software and hardware engineers and specialists. Rarely, a middle-aged person in business suit comes trundling a stroller. This person shows that an executive has just landed at nearby Delhi airport for a day-trip to negotiate a project or sign a deal.
Except for the young and happening IT workers, there are no other age groups: no mothers with prams, no seniors with walking sticks, no families with toddlers. But there are open air amphitheaters for live performances, children’s playing areas and activity Kid Zone. So, who uses them? This mystery was solved when an IT engineer said that toddlers, kids, seniors and families converge here over the weekends.
The new IT recruits visit the food court on the first floor where the global and Indian fast food chains are busy feeding them. The executives select a classy restaurant for their mi-day meal, a lounge bar, a café or a beer bar. The cuisine? You name it, they have it from Chinese, Italian, Continental, American, and all types of Indian fare from different states. Whether you want fine dining or fast food, health food or fatty food, you got them all here from the scores of restaurants and food stalls.
In addition to many major international food chains like McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts, Haagen Dazs, Subway, among others, you find top class Indian food outlets with whacky names like SodaBottleOpenerWala, Decadenz, Salad Days, Yum Yum Cha, PappaRoti, Smaaash, Circus, Plan B, Chaayos, Mamagoto, Oh! Calcutta, Bun Intended, Farzi Cafe, Mr. IHOP, Not Just Paranthas, Potbelly Sandwich Shop…the salivating list goes on and on.
The relaxed atmosphere has tough out of sight security and disaster prevention measures. A private fire station with a lift that can reach up to 30 stories and a disaster management plan with emergency equipment, a medical centre with trained staff are among these measures. Over 12,000 CCTV cameras cover every nook and corner with a 24×7 monitoring room. Plus, 1,300 security guards keep a sharp vigil.
Going beyond Delhi’s temples, forts and monuments, Cyber Hub is fast becoming a tourist stopover. India earned US$ 27 billion from a record number of over ten million foreign tourists last year. Now Cyber Hub will add to these earnings from domestic and foreign visitors.
“Amazing,” said Nicky Canetti, a New Yorker who visited Cyber Hub recently, “I never thought you had a Silicon Valley here.”