In the work Gurgaon Glossaries the authors undertook a study of Gurgaon, a city that grew rapidly with diverse forces coming together. The city attracted people and businesses from all over the country with different kinds of lives and backgrounds to inhabit a complete alien landscape. The city settled not by resolving the differences between forces, but by figuring out ways in which these forces could exist with each other. It generated new practices and relationships that became terms by which the city happened. Gurgaon Glossaries compiled the terms by which the city came together. These were micro-narratives of emerging practices and relationships. The trope of the ‘glossary’ is useful to think about the contemporary where the nose is pressed against the screen. Every pixel becomes a term in the glossary - and more the number of terms in the glossary, more is the possibility of making sense. The glossary is unlike a dictionary, which defines terms. The terms in the glossary are specific to a context and carry a thickness of histories, experiences and myths with them. For example a term like ‘project’ would simply mean an undertaking or an idea or an ambition. In Gurgaon Glossaries, one of the terms called ‘the Project’ reads as follows:
“The Project: Contradictions arise when the condition of absent centralized infrastructure and governance collides with aspirations, desires and fears of the young professionals who come to work for the big companies located in Gurgaon. These contradictions are resolved through the idea of the ‘project’ taking care. Developers promise a ‘project’ instead of a house. Effort is made to provide all facilities that are available in any first world condition within these gated projects. Clubs, gardens, parking, security systems, 24X7 water and electricity are provided by the project along with one-button services – an exclusive service, where one has to simply push a button on the intercom system and demand. One has access to plumbers, cable TV guys, electricians, pest control services, etc. Some projects also provide services like day-care, drivers on hire, laundry, food from different restaurants”.
Here, the term ‘project’ embodies the specificities of governance, values, practices, systems and living in Gurgaon. The people of Gurgaon associate the term with a specific idea and space and not to the general idea of the term. The titles in the glossary may sound extremely generic. It is in their descriptions however that the terms acquire a contextual specificity, which speaks about the place / time / situation. Moreover, the form of the glossary is able to work with the pixelated nature of the story, where one is inside the story and also a part of it. Such a form is like a hydra - with multiple heads, where each head can speak in a different voice and different language and can respond differently to different situations. All the heads put together would be able to collectively tell a story of the context.