Grand Venice

If they can’t have bread let them eat cake – possibly said by Marie Antoinette, circa 18th century AD

If they can’t have cake I will give them bread and tell them it is Grand Cake – interpretation of statements certainly made by Akhilesh Yadav, Chief Minsiter of Uttar Pradesh, December 2014

The Chief Minister (CM) of Uttar Pradesh (UP) has set a new benchmark in meeting the basic needs of his constituents, residents of one of the poorer and most populous states in the country, by inaugurating the Grand Venice tourist destination in Greater Noida. If you cannot give them food, employment and electricity, at least give them a mall, appears to be the irrefutable logic that the CM is working with.

And no ordinary mall it promises to be. The Grand Venice promises to recreate the magic of Italian living which, as all of us in India now know, must be superior to our Indian living which has no magic. It will have all the essence of the city of Venice. No Rome. No Florence. No Tuscany. No Naples. Pure, unadulterated Venice, with the same style of architecture used where one can find light towers, attractive gondola boat rides on water canals built inside the mall. What’s more, instead of gliding along exposed-brick walls unchanged for hundreds of years, these gondolas will glide along glass and concrete walls for an even more authentic experience. And, for an immersive (pun unintended) Venetian experience, a Leaning Tower of Pisa, a Colosseum of Rome and the ruins of Pompeii will be thrown in. Beat that.

Demonstrating a high degree of respect for the intellectual capacity of the constituents of his state and their discerning tastes, he expressed happiness that “They can have a feel of Venice in Greater Noida”, leaving “and they will not know the difference”, unsaid, as only a person with his ear to the ground could. In a voice choked with emotion, which is normally the case with politicians when there is big money at stake, he added “The Grand Venice tourist destination has given an opportunity to those who could not fly abroad,” Mr. Yadav said while inaugurating the project from his residence here through video conferencing, and promising all support to people investing in it. The innermost desires of the poor, often debated by intellectuals, are now out in the open, thanks to the CM. We now know that their innermost desire and greatest need is to experience the magical Italian living of Venice.

We know it is an absolutely innovative concept since only a few hundred malls around the world are based on the Venetian theme.

“As this destination lies in the route of Taj Mahal, I think people will also visit there,” he added, referring to a little known monument often counted as one of the wonders of the world, and how the new mall promised to change the fortunes of that neglected piece of architecture, where police action to control milling crowds is a regular feature.

“The mall also has a centralized weather management system to give the same comfort of European weather” a newspaper report added. “It will be maintained in the same natural way by efficiently sucking up gazillions of units of electricity and diesel and spewing out toxic fumes.”

Our country has foul living conditions. Aren’t you ashamed? We give you the magic of Italian living. Not the magic of Japanese living, neither that of French living, nor that of Australian or Canadian living. But Italian living.

Our country has foul weather. Aren’t you ashamed? We give you European weather. Not American weather, neither Iranian weather, nor Argentinian weather. But pure European weather.

Inside the mall.

Please vote for us in the next elections.

It is clear that no stone is being left unturned by the private company developing the project that has been endorsed by the CM. Every little detail is being attended to, as is evident from the name, Grand Venezia. With a name like that, can it be anything but authentic? No compromises. Naysayers, like me, are sniggering at the inclusion of Grand in the name. We have heard this English word, and some of us may even have an understanding of its meaning. With a little foresight could it not have been Grande, even allowing for the fact that that would make it French. But with the intellectual prowess already attributed to the constituents by the CM, would anyone have noticed? Would the usage of an English word not mar the Italian experience? But naysayers will be naysayers. Off with their heads.

City councillors in Venice are a worried lot. They thought they only had the rising ocean to worry about. Now they are faced with an even more depressing prospect; of dwindling tourist arrivals as people rush to Noida to get a feel of the real Venice. But they have some fight left in them. They have commissioned an advertising campaign to showcase Venice as an authentic Grand Venezia of Noida experience. That is their only hope.

The state government has tasted blood. There is no stopping them now. Plans are afoot to construct another mall for an authentic Masai Mara Game Reserve experience and another one for an authentic Amazon jungle experience. All recordings played back will be based on real animal sounds and movements. Images of flora and fauna used will be life-size.

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32 thoughts on “Grand Venice

  1. I live near Greater Noida. The CM Akhilesh Yadav is doing horrible work. Tourism is not a basic need. Instead of building up malls, the CM should concentrate on eradicating poverty and other important issues. There aren’t enough employment opportunities in the state. The CM is wasting public money.

  2. Contact him immediately to include a car dealership for BMW, Audi, Mercedes. Then a diamond jewelry store and 5 Star restaurant. These thing encourage under privileged people to get more money and stimulate the economy.

    • Were I a betting man, that’s what I would put my money on. De Niro and Pacino are two words (or is it three) that the CM would definitely know. Only authentic Venetian cuisine like chicken tikka and daal makhani can go down well with the soothing sound of gondoliers belting away the latest traditional Italian songs in Hindi in the background.

  3. Sign me up for a tour. I think some are missing the point that a tourist attraction brings people with money. The poor of Noida will be able to drag themselves out of the gutter by begging, pick-pocketing, purse snatching, shop lifting, and kidnapping for ransom. It all works in the favor of Noidans with the additional benefit of the poor experiencing the rich, and the rich experiencing the poor.

    • “…and they lived together happily ever after” comes to mind. True. Such attractions will draw money. And that is fine. The issue is that an elected representative should not espouse a private business. Let the business owners talk about their business and sell it. In my view the CM crossed that line. On a different note, you seem to be aware of all the popular professions in Noida 🙂

    • Quite right Jacqui. It even has a Venetian. I am sure it brings in a lot of money, considering newer places have been coming up. Macau, near Hong Kong, is another similar destination that has spawned a large number of hotels and casinos including, I believe, another Venetian. Perhaps the world can do with more.

  4. hahaha brilliant write up. Didn’t know of this project before reading your piece. Totally pity the Delhi GK-2 snobs, who shall be deprived of this luxury. Poor guys must be getting bored playing with Swarovski crystal studded teeth pomerians. 😛

  5. Thanks Arthur – you are enforcing my belief that politicians are the same the world over! In austerity stricken Greece the Mayor of Paleo Faliro threatens to turn our sea side town into the Greek Riviera (which, by the way is declining fast and the French authorities do not know what to do with it..) I wish you all the best for the New Year: health, wealth, fame and a good portion of good luck

    • No doubt about that. In fact, I would extend the argument and say that human beings the world over, despite differences of colour, caste, gender, etc., are more similar than not. All the best for your town. Most “schemes”, I find, are meant for short-term benefit, without adequate thought to long-term impact. New Year wishes to you as well.

      • Dear friend, thank you very much for the comment – I totally agree… We share our weaknesses and our strengths …. Have a wonderful New Year. Greece is headed for elections so politics are in the center of our lives once more!!

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