Thursday, July 31, 2008

Culture and cafés

Habitat Centre When I travel I studiously avoid evenings dedicated to local dance and music. I have, however, become rather fond of visiting our local cultural hotspot, the Habitat Centre. Initially attracted by the air conditioning and the upholstered seats, I have been to – and found myself enjoying – a Bangladeshi music recital and a display of Orissan dancing. The Bangladeshi music consisted of female singer accompanied by various instruments – bongo-type drums, small bells tinkled from the outside, something that looked like a filing cabinet but sounded like an accordion and an electric keyboard. The music was rather tragic/plaintive but had tunes you found yourself humming afterwards. The Orissan dancing, on the other hand, was like watching a primary school nativity play. I'm sure the children, wriggling in their uncomfortable costumes, were in time at some point it was just difficult to tell which ones and when. The other great thing about the Habitat Centre is you don't have to stay for the whole duration. People come and go all the time so, when you think you've had your cultural dollop, you can make a swift exit and, if the mood takes you, wander across the courtyard for a different sort of "culture" – the American Diner. The main attraction of this little sanctuary is that it serves beer – not many places in our part of Delhi do – and you can also smoke inside. It makes a pleasant change every now and then and takes the edge off the cultural acclimatisation.

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