Do you know about ‘The Village’? No, we haven’t relocated to New York – Delhi has its very own suburban village in the form of Hauz Khaz, and in its own knowing sort of way it’s equally trendy. You won’t find a Coffee Day or Baristas on the main drag – instead it’s a series of designer boutiques and independent eateries. All very well and good, but definitely a little out of our price range on a regular basis.
You might ask how two impoverished students such as Susanna and myself found ourselves in such a salubrious area on a Friday evening after college? You’ll never believe it but were viewing property. Yes property! I’ll explain. We’re members of a Delhi-expat yahoo group. Most emails that we receive as a result of said membership read something along the lines of:
One bedroom available in spacious, luxury flat in Defence Colony. Private bathroom, fully air-conditioned with own balcony. Rent Rs.30, 000/month – electricity, maid, cook, gardener and Wi-Fi charges additional.
This, we (and I think that I can safely speak for Susanna here too) find faintly depressing. But occasionally there’s a gem.
Such a gem – advertising a private room in Hauz Khaz for the bargain price of Rs.8000/month appeared in my inbox on Thursday:
There is a room available to rent near Hauz Khaz Village with a private terrace, kitchenette and bathroom. It comes semi furnished with a fridge, bed, closet and water heater (bathroom) with a private entry. It is overlooking the park and the deer park. The rent is 8000 with 8000 deposit.
Naturally we hot-footed it over there pronto, and viewed what can only be described a quirky apartment. Situated on the top floor of a housing block with a bedroom, kitchen and small bathroom in separate corners of an open terrace it was charming if a little unconventional (and in need of a good clean). Immediately we were picturing rooftop gatherings, fairy lights and al fresco dining. Sadly our hopes were dashed a little when we realized how many other people were interested in the place – and that the boho filmmaker NRI type who was showing us around was being decidedly cagey about how the landlady would choose who ultimately got it.
Slightly deflated we made the short walk over to the village to check out the trendy south-Delhi lifestyle that we could potentially be living. Should we go to the rooftop Keralan restaurant we’d heard so much about? A bar? Or to the famous Living Room for a cocktail and a quick snack? Having heard so much about it from friends and acquaintances we plumped for the latter, and were soon weaving our way up through dimly lit rooms, carefully squeezing past beautifully turned out young women in heels brandishing designer handbags, and feeling a tad out of place in our full salwar kameez sets (we’d come prepared to impress potential Aunty-type landladies, henna).
Perhaps not surprisingly on a balmy Friday night there were no tables, and we were soon making the same journey in reverse, climbing down from the top-floor open-air terrace back to the exit on the ground floor.
‘I saw a guy on the street outside making masala omelettes,’ Susanna ventured ‘Fancy one?’
Twenty minutes later we were trekking back to Green Park metro station – full of eggy goodness and only twenty rupees poorer. Perhaps it’s best that I don’t get the trendy rooftop apartment; I suspect that I’m not cool enough to live in Hauz Khaz after all …