Posts filed under ‘Tale of Two Cities’

Fashionable Delhi (Tale of Two Cities series)

Delhizens love to live in style. Some let sophistication speak for them and others believe in the theory of more is less! And if you thought the word ‘fashion’ is limited to the wardrobe of a Delhizen, then you got to live here to see how the word works around. Fad for fashion can be seen in the mobiles we use, cars we drive, gym we go to and how do we exercise!

Food also makes a fashion statement here, where to eat to what is the hottest selling dish in town.  Consider this; we gave India its national dish ‘butter chicken’, created an Indianised version of Chinese cuisine and call it ‘Chinjabi’. We could be a contender for the top most sushi consuming city outside Japan and gol guppas got a new meaning when flavoured water was replaced by vodka. 360 at The Oberoi is the most fashionable coffee shop in town where you don’t go because it has the most exotic & lavish menu but to have the likes of Rahul Gandhi as fellow diners.  There are two reasons for a place to become popular in Delhi, It is the best in its specialty or is high on social scales; O’ neva mind about the name, it depends on where is the freebie party tonight ;).

And to make it to the Pg3 column next day all you need to do is air-kiss- muwah! Muah! Take-up profession of an artist, writer, designer, model or claim to be a rich socialite and you will get an entry to the city’s full-on fashion frat scene and will be there on addressed as gliterarti or literarti. Art and theatre too became hot among Delhizens after they became ‘must-be seen’ at places.

What we wear and from where we buy is another high point. When Zara opened its doors in Delhi the store sales on the first weekend reported by reliable sources was more Rs. 55 lac. I visited the store and fail to understand if all that fuss was about that stuff which looked like second’s ka maal. But then, I looked around and realized the latest fad these days is to walk around in your bedroom attire, ganji, shorts and slippers with unmade hair and well manicured nails!

We looooove to show off! An observation based survey proves Delhi has the highest number of total paisa lutao shaddis, high on glam quotient. Gupta, Jain, Khanna wedding will make it to news because they got a ‘B’ town B-class actress to stand by the newly-weds. Of course they are also the ones who buy the top-end designer wear.

Delhizens have created trends that make a statement and speak for the city and its niche aspects! Here are the latest top ones;

  • Book cafés
  • Tea Houses where you can also do a tasting of the most exotic flavours
  • Fashion shows for hotel launches to charity events
  • Farm house weddings with minimum ten functions
  • High on glam parties with a mix of expats, glitteratiliterati
  • Fab India Kurtas, Jeans & jhola, designer labels
  • Wine & cheese evenings
  • Select City Walk Mall & shopping where you have all top International brands under one roof

Forever in fashion

  • Shopping at Khan Market & Connaught Place, Chandi Chowk
  • Dilli Haat
  • India Habitat Centre for best of everything from the world of art/music/films/theatre …
  • Indian Ocean rock band
  • Karims for Mughlai, Kwality for choley Bhature, UPSC for Chaat, Oh Calcutta for Bengali food, Big Chill for the yummiest desserts, shakes and more grub, D’Pauls for cold coffee and Wengers for everything on its menu
  • Delhi Metro
  • Jahan-e-Khusrau festival
  • Walks in Lodhi Garden & India Gate

Author of this post came to Delhi when a trip to CP was high point of a holiday, shopping meant hob-knobbing at the state emporias’, ‘21 Love’ & ‘Hot Chocolate Fudge’ at Nirula’s were the most sort after flavours of ice cream! Since then she has attended a fair number of Pg3 dos and has witnessed all that has been listed in the post. She enjoys the buzz but prefers to be an observer. Shop only at Vintage in CP as that’s the only place she finds regular waist, straight-fit Levis. Even the store manager tells her, Ma’am jeans of your style are very difficult to find. But what to do she tell him, “This is what is most comfy & goes best with my pair of Bata shoes!”

This series is simultaneously publish on Karan Agrawal’s blog


September 4, 2010 at 2:59 pm 7 comments

Delhi – Cities with a City

Cities within a City that’s the concept that gives Delhi its unique identity maybe that’s the reason it was made into a State. Every part has its own characteristics & culture, its own fashion and food! A day or even two are just not enough to know what it is like to be a Delhizen. Home is where heart lies and a Delhizen’s heart no matter where he goes will always call only one city home and that’s what we call the charm of ‘Delhi’!

A city that has history that dates back to Mahabharta and since then who ever ruled left a never to fade stamp on it! Be it the Pandavas, the slave dynasty, Mughals or the British.

Walled City is the oldest part, an ancient masjid and the majestic Red Fort have witnessed centuries of change and every by-lane has a name and history of its own. It is spread out like a maze yet compact. Burqa clad ladies, men wearing skull caps; this style of dressing is exclusive to Dilli 6. Small shack like restaurants with raw as well as cooked assortment of non-vegetarian food decorated at the entrance serves authentic mughlai cuisine which makes you crave for more and invites you over and again.  Rangeen gullys of Chandi Chowk is a paradise for foodies and a shopper’s delight. They say there is some things in every bride’s trousseau that has been bought from here. Fare you can explore here will not taste the same if served in any other part of the Delhi.

Come a little further and you are in Lutyens Delhi, vast roads, palatial bunglows. This place has a vintage feel to it which is still intact. It is address of many expats, politicos and the old riches. Every passer-by has a desire to get a peak in to one of these houses.

Go West, and you are in the land of high on happiness Punjabis. Everything for them has to be extra large. Here you will find the newest model of cars with blaring music. Everyone from a 50 plus auntyji to a Nikki & Pummy in 20s wear everything matching from top to toe. Pink has to be jatak and red has to be bright. Men can be spotted in embroidered shirts. And of course there was a time when aerobics on bhangra beats was a fad here. Show off is thy name!

North is the Univ campus, college life and within limited budget eating out and shopping options are in plenty. It is young, peppy and at the same time it is home to the intellects of Delhi.

East is known as ‘Jamuna Par’ in the local dialect and if you come South it’s a new world all together. This part of Delhi tops on Glam Quotient. Even food also makes a fashion statement here, where to eat to what is the hottest selling dish in town everything counts. Here it’s about wearing Versace shades, carrying a Gucci bag paired with Jimmy Choo shoes, so what if we buy them during the Sale.

No matter which part of Delhi you are in everything has to be in sync according to the latest trend doing rounds. What differentiates one from the other is their interpretation of ‘fashion & style’.

Delhi is a city that doesn’t let you be, the loudness can get on to you. Every bar, pub, restaurant will have high voltage music or hum-drum of people. To find solace you have to discover places that are still beyond the reach of many. The Quaint hide-outs do exist but to you have to go through many doors to reach there. I am not letting out the names here else they too become ‘popular hang-outs’.

Spiritualism too has varied meanings and various genres of it do co-exist. It has something for everyone, from the qwalis at Hazrat Nizzamuddin Auliya every Thursday that quenches your desire for Sufism, to Buddhist Chant Groups. Monthly choirs at the Catholic Church to jingling temple bells and aarti at dusk.

One can explore beyond one’s own ethnicity and go international as well. It is home to cultural and language centers of many countries. Islamic, French, German, Hungarian, Spanish are the more popular ones.

The most admired and almost sacred place for us is India Gate, for it is patriotism and the most accessible for a family outing. Visit this place after ten, drive up to the gate of the President’s House, turn back and you will witness a million dollar view!

A Delhizen who has been born and brought-up here is likely to have not visited many monuments. We appreciated our Metro but still prefer our car over it. It’s hyperactive and almost silent by midnight. Here people may not have a personal rapport with the next door neighbour but ask them about why her son is sitting at home, or the daughter is not getting married and they will readily tell you a story.

All in all if you have lived here then no city in the entire world can daunt you. If you know your way around the Sarkari babus then you are an expert in sorting out any matter. Driven in Delhi? Then you qualify for an international license and yes, bargaining is in our blood! We are who we are, love us for it or envy us for our guts!

PS: This article is a preface to my next ‘Fashionable Delhi’ which is written as part of the ‘Tale of Two Cities’ series…

September 2, 2010 at 1:22 pm 15 comments

Mumbai- City of Dreams

Delhi, the National Capital of India and Mumbai the Financial. While Fashion & food are like two lifelines for Delhizens, its sensex, film stars and larger than life dreams which gave Bombay its identity. What to talk about those cities which are in news every day? What is that you already don’t know about them and we can tell you? The sole purpose of this two part series ‘ Tale of Two Cities’ is to look at the cities from a perspective of two individuals who found everything here from work, home, friends- in short a new beginning to life!

Mumbai – City of Dreams ( Part I)

Karan Agrawal

For me, Mumbai is a city of dreams. So am I living my dreams, yes you can say that I am living in my dream city. And like me, millions of dream filled eyes come to Mumbai every year to make it big. And it is the place where dream do become true. The city has something for everyone. So many times we have heard Shahrukh Khan saying, “When I came to Mumbai, I didn’t even have a penny in my pocket.”  And he is just one among the many many people who came, saw and conquered. The city is kind to those who believe in themselves.

When you hear a morning 6’oclock alarm ring, you just can’t ignore it and sleep back. A minute extra sleep means you will reach the bus stop late. A minute late and you would be welcome by huge queue waiting for 6:50 AM – 461 BEST bus. A minute late at railway station means you will miss your 6:58 AM Churchgate fast local. The effect will be you would have to wait for the next train/ bus and the whole process makes you delay by 20-40 mins at your work place. So the system makes you disciplined. You start valuing time. You prioritise and plan ahead. Number becomes part of your life.

When you are in the office, you forget all the hassle you managed to reach the office. At the work place, you meet a hundred people, bright, young with one thing in common – all outsiders i.e. non Mumbaites. And if you happen to come across a localite, you can’t resist exclaiming, “Oh, you are a localite. Cool! Where do you stay in Mumbai?!” So you end up meeting people from various parts of the country and share different cultures but similar dreams – to reach at the top of the world!

In the evening, when it is the time to wrap up from the office, you get charged up once again to face the crowd and fight for your square centimetre of space in the local train. And again if you miss your 7:37 PM local from Fort station to Borivali, you get late for the dinner atleast by 50 mins. But you can always munch on a Vada pav. Cheapest and best snacks of Mumbai. There are people who survive only eating Vada pav, so if it is just a snack for you, you are a lot better off!

By the time you are done with your dinner, it is 10:30PM. You talk to your parents over phone and then you realise it’s time to signoff for the day. The next day is 6hrs away from waking and you need to rest before you gear up again! The sleep you get after toiling for the complete day cannot be bought from any shop. You sleep with a faith and wake up with a hope the next day! Are we missing something here? Oh Yes! This is just the starter and the main course and deserts are still waiting.  You have only tasted first dish of the Chappan Bhog food. (Chappan Bhog – 56 variety of dishes served on auspicious events)

The day you feel life is getting monotonous, you need a break – you message your friends “Today evening at Marine drive, dinner at Jazz by the Bay.” So you meet up your college friends at the Queen’s Necklace. You chat with them, share stories, watch the ocean waves moving and stare at sky thinking. You land up at Pahlwan dhaba behind the historic and royal Taj President hotel for dinner. Paratha – curry with Coca cola and friends. You end up running towards station to catch the last local. Not that staying all night awake at the sea shore would not have been fun, but the next day office drags you home. A day well lived.

And the weekends are much awaited time. You sleep out till the noon. Do your pending work and plan for the evening. You hang out with your roommates at Juhu beach, go to Versova beach with office gang, at the ISCON temple with closed ones, Siddhivinayak, Mahalakshmi and Haji Ali with relatives, Hakone Go Carting with your friend’s group and now you are also part of that group, Water Kingdom water park with your project friends, latest flick with your ex project friends, English play with random friends (term I came to know in Mumbai itself), Lonavala on a rainy weekend with old friends. Your cousin visits Mumbai and he is a great fan of Shahrukh Khan so you take him to Mannat (SRK’s bunglow) at Bandra.

The city never sleeps. And not just in the literal sense but also when it is gripped by foreign attacks. 26/11 the biggest terrorist attack in the history of India – yet next day offices was open. Life was at normal, up and running in few days time. The city has its own challenges. The traffic is maddening at times, slums is as much an integral part of the maximum city as the Sensex, Bollywood and politicians, food is cheap but living is expensive, yet “Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota, usse perfect banaya jaata hai!

The post would remain incomplete without the mention of vigilant and agile Mumbai Police. They are the once who keep crime under control and ensures fearless mobility. They are the once because of whom people like me can go to Juhu beach at morning 3 o’clock and sip road side ginger tea!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: There has been a Harshad Mehta and there is a Ratan Tata. There has been a Dawood Ibrahim and a Hemant Karkare. Monika Bedi or a Priyanka Chopra. Or you can be larger than life, Sachin Tendulkar is an example. This is ‘the’ city where people come to make their career and end up making their life, it depends what dreams you want to realise!

*This series will also be published simultaneously on Karan’s blog.  Part II titled ‘Fashionable Delhi’ will be posted in days to follow!

August 30, 2010 at 6:36 pm 12 comments


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