Without resorting to tired old chestnuts about the rat race (too late), Delhi as a city is becoming increasingly cold and indifferent, often to the point of hostility. People living here, particularly in the educated urban demographic, usually fall into the category of rotten snot rockets or people who complain relentlessly about them (and outsiders from out of town, but who cares about them?). Meeting new people and getting a fresh start on your own is almost impossible — try heading to a café alone with a book and you’ll find yourself curling into a ball of shame, such is the level of judgment and condescension directed your way. But there are a bunch of groups and places that encourage a harmonious kind of interaction between strangers, all the while offering cool little asides and fun activities.
Traditionally, there’s never been much expats can do in New Delhi without being fleeced, harassed, victimised or ogled at (sometimes all at once). It’s tough: like how, for instance, citizens of the country get to visit the Red Fort for a mere Rs 10; foreigners need to pay 25 (twenty-FIVE) times that. Primo Privilege — a super elite, ultra exclusive club meant mostly for the expatriate population of Delhi — has, for the past year or so, been trying to make the city just a little more user-friendly for our friends from
Membership to the club, which (often) comes Embassy-Approved, allows patrons to make the most of certain services and go for exclusive events that give members an opportunity to talk, mingle and do fun and pretentious things like taste 4,000 different kinds of obscure French wines using only a pasteur pipette and an emerald spittoon. The range of partners they have on board — across food and nightlife, gourmet products, hotels, shopping, wellness — is daunting, and they all offer cool little discounts and services for members (expats paying less than civilians — imagine that). It’s sort of helping balance the scales while allowing expats the chance to socialise with the locals (who can also gain access to some but not all the benefits of the club) and each other free from the inherent risk that the streets of Delhi pose. Of course, there’s a strict screening process so you’d better hope you clear.
A World Alike
Correct us if we’re wrong, but isn’t there something so gloriously quaint about “mixers” (not the Coke-Pepsi kind; the “Hi, I’m Rahul and I like photography and toy trains” kind)? Maybe it’s because of how the word itself sounds, but mixers have this isolated hillbilly charm where the rules of the real world don’t apply — it’s okay to appear interested, it’s okay to strike up conversations with a stranger, it’s fine to, for one evening, be whoever you want to be. A World Alike is another private, members-only group — a “social network of well-educated individuals” — that organises all kinds of not-commonplace events for people to meet, greet, exchange phone numbers and maybe also bodily fluids (sorry): “Vino and Vinyl” evenings, singles events, couple “soirées” (sorry?), house parties that play the dual role of getting people to whine and wine, business mixers, cute little photography events, pub quizzes, whiskey tasting sessions and much more besides. It sounds quite interesting, so dust off those old, rotting Delhi University degree certificates ASAP.
Delhi Secret Supper Club
Everyone eats, so there’s a kind of egalitarianism attached to food. But some food is more equal than other food. The more equal kind is what the Delhi Secret Supper Club, formed in 2013, specialises in. It’s an anonymous group of “experiential food and epic conversation connoisseurs”, a statement dripping with the thick, rosemary-and-marjoram-laced aroma of smug, high society jargon (which
We take it they don’t spend their evenings discussing the hubris of Odysseus; what they do, though, is function as a kind of exclusive eating, drinking, hay-making club that hosts secret events where groups of complete strangers (“curated” and screened by the club, naturally) get to loosen up and talk about life and the consistency of the Cuisses de Grenouille — they can network and potentially make new friends, all the while gently nibbling on exquisite fancypants cuisine from unheard parts of the world. Like George Bernard Shaw once said: “What’s life but an empty void without rich new friends made over a portion or two of roasted duck with raspberry glaze.” So #StepOutOfYourComfortZone.
Hauz Khas Social/Defence Colony Social
So-called creative people sometimes pretend to work too… in those rare moments when they aren’t busy getting s**tfaced or moaning about how life sucks. Let’s be honest for a second: no half-decent professional entity wants these liabilities on their hands, a truism these guys hide through denial and by claiming to be “self-employed” or “freelancers”. The Social, a fast-expanding chain spread across multiple cities, acts as a kind of enabler to these pity-party-junkies. Social is a “collaborative workspace” and a place where artists, designers and “innovators” (ugh) can gather, create some banging animations and mock-ups and sketch designs, every day of the month, all of a fee of around Rs 5,000, while also getting to meet like-minded people they can start design and strategy companies with. There are two branches in the capital — one in the zoo that is Hauz Khas Village, and the other in Defence Colony — both offering an easy-going, genial sort of environment that’s conducive to getting (some) work done, with excellent food and an overdose of kitsch in the design of the restaurant/bar/collaborative workspace. There’s cheap beer too, so you can also get wasted at work without worrying about your boss smelling your cup of hot “coffee” and handing over your P45. And come on; there’s no better ice-breaker than alcohol.