|Let she who is without hipster cast the first stone.
Over the last year, partly because of work, I had to make more trips to HKV than I would like and I became intimately acquainted with hip KV more than I ever wanted to be. The anger grew: I was fiercely glad when places shut down "what can you expect from HKV?" when places caught fire "oh, but the administration is so bad". I even warned people against going there: "Death trap. Plus it's full of super pretentious people." My rage included the regulars there as well--if I saw one more kid in oversized glasses and uncombed (or TOO combed) hair, I was going to kidnap them, toss them in the boot of my car and throw them into the Yamuna. I hated it so much, I didn't see it for what it was. And now it's dying.
Let me tell you what HKV could have been. HKV could have been what it was last night. We did our long trek, dodging and jumping and holding our noses past the garbage dump. I felt the familiar "why oh why do I ever come to Hauz Khas Village" bubble up inside me already weary at how many people loved it and therefore how much of a disappointment it was going to be.
But as the evening went on, something funny happened. Through all of it, though its demise had been predicted in all the papers and the blogs and Twitter and Facebook, Hauz Khas remained resolutely charming. No, I'm serious. It was actually charming. The Fete de la Musique is something organised by the Alliance Francaise and is meant to be this totally chilled, free street music-y event where you can listen to bands on the streets and then hop from bar to bar enjoying various kinds of music. Unfortunately, the AF booked some pretty terrible bands, except for maybe, Adil & Vasundhara, who were playing at a place called Thirty Nine. Never heard of it? It's okay, last night was probably the only time since they opened that they had people lining up to get in, and going COMPLETELY against the MEANING of all that Fete de la Musique is, they were charging a cover of Rs 500 a head. Bullshit, said we, all suddenly coming round to the MEANING of HKV and ready to embrace all its hipster values (which include not paying for things). But we wound up having a pretty good night of it all in all. The Good Thing and I went to Downstairs At Zo, which is attached to Upstairs at Zo aka Zo Cafe. Now, Zo is a little old guard but still new enough that everyone was all "grumble, who let the GK1-wallahs in?" but they transformed themselves last year by opening a gig only venue, previously mentioned Downstairs At Zo, and what do you know? It's actually kinda fun, I admit grudgingly. It's small enough that it feels like a party and yet not so small that you're nose to armpit with someone who doesn't believe in deodarant. It's.. cool, okay, HKV? You got me, but the irony is, this is your wannabe Lajpat Nagar sister without the over precious interiors that is cool. Ho ho. I laugh in your face.
After, we went to Imperfecto which is ONLY over-precious interiors, but which I still like, because hey, I'm a woman and I'm allowed to be full of contradictions. I think what I like most about Imperfecto is their pretty terrace with an actual water feature, but also the round jolly chef lady who comes around table to table, often with nothing more than chicken ham, but it's the way she offers you the chicken ham that sort of makes or breaks your experience. (Also nice wine by the glass.) We had, like non-rolling stones, gathered some moss, by way of two friends I hadn't seen in while, and while meandering, met a few more. It felt a bit like HKV was throwing us a big ol' house party, people were actually smoking inside bars, and you moved from group to group, fluidly, saying hi, because you all knew the host.
|Thai wisdom totally applies in this case too
I hope HKV therefore is like the ruined city in Mowgli's jungle. Some men built it till the jungle took it away, and the only creatures having fun there now are the monkeys. I wanna be like you-hoo-hoo, sings King Louie in the Disney version of The Jungle Book, and now I think Delhi born-and-breds are singing it to the urban elite who are running away as far as they can in the opposite direction, abandoning a palace that could, if a little care was put into it, be beautiful.