Friday, November 7, 2008

Dancing in Delhi

In a stark contrast to my life in rural Orissa, last week I went to Delhi and met and mingled with people reaping the benefits of India's economic explosion that has simply by-passed those living in places like Bhawanipatna. I'd come to Delhi to do some work for VSO and, lacking office space, Freya and I decamped to a café in the trendy Khan Market where we could sip cappuccinos and eat Danish pastries whilst surfing the net on our computers using the in-house Wi-Fi connection. Around us sat the young and, more importantly, rich Indians who come to these Western-style establishments to meet friends or work and who wear the latest Western fashions to compliment their lifestyles – not a sari or salwar kameez in sight. Once the work was finished we cruised the shops. Khan Market caters for Western tastes but, fortunately, in amongst the fashion emporiums, up-market delis and English bookshops, you can also find really nice Indian clothes – I bought several new salwar kameez – and Eastern style home décor shops – I eyed up some wine glasses until I remembered you can't get wine where I live. We then went on to a beauty salon and, whilst Freya had a manicure and head massage, I went for a pedicure – I know, I never went for that kind of thing in the UK but when in Rome ... Shopped out, we went on to John's flat for drinks and nibbles. John is another VSO volunteer who is a farmer from Yorkshire and is as thrilled by living in a metropolis as I am by living in the country. We were joined by several of his friends some of whom were local advocates and doctors. Whilst not the richest people in Delhi, most of them live in fully serviced apartments and had cars and iPhones etc. After drinks we proceeded to a night-club ... or two. To be honest, I've never been that fond of clubbing but I had a grand time. In the first club they played 80s music – U2, Police, Wham - and we danced and sang until 11.30pm when it shut. Those of us with staying-power then went onto another night-club in a very smart 5-star hotel. Frequented by business men accompanied by what looked suspiciously like call-girls, it was like any other hotel nightclub except it only played Indian music. On the dancing front, John and I agreed that we'd throw ourselves into it as long as we kept our respective antics strictly between ourselves. Suffice to say we both now know the actions to all the latest Punjabi-disco hits - Village People eat your hearts out. I don't think I'd like to live in Delhi, not least because I couldn't afford it, but I had a great time experiencing a different Indian life-style.

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