Taken in by its faux bohemian spirit, some consider Hauz Khas Village in south Delhi to be somewhat like a John Lennon song. People come here to soak in its slapdash alternativeness. One club plays jazz, one book store showcases books by non-conformist publishers and one restaurant (glowingly reviewed in Time magazine’s Europe edition) has stapled printouts for a menu. Most people walking in the village lanes are spotted with SLR digicams and Apple Macs. As the Capital’s chic hangout zone, the 14th century village has seen the best and worst of times.
Three new eating places have come up recently. More watering holes are on the way. A bakery called Elma is almost ready to open (opposite Yodakin book store, on the first floor; it will serve fresh baked bread from 8am onwards). The young owner of Natural Selection furniture store has shut shop and is turning it into a high-style Italian speciality restaurant. And the village got its first ATM last month, proof it’s now a serious shopping destination.
Despite the razzmatazz, however, the village is trying hard not to lose its character. Like an ideal Incredible India, it has buffaloes, BMWs, imported cigarettes, hookahs, cleavage- showing models, veiled village belles, brick hovels and glass- panelled designer studious co-existing harmoniously.
We take you to the new landmarks that are making the village buzz with action.
Clockwise from top left.
•Maati, which opened in April, specializes in handmade T-shirts painted by rural artisans from states such as West Bengal and Uttarakhand. The tag gives the artist’s name. You may also get custom-made designs featuring anything from India Gate or the Gateway of India, to autos and BMWs (Rs 700-1,800).
Where: 26, Hauz Khas Village; 11am-7.30pm, open daily.
Also see | Hauz Khas Village’s Map (PDF)
•It’s free spirits such as painter Usha Hooda, 54, who keep Hauz Khas Village hip and young. Her studio, Maya Art and Apparel, is stunning—it has a piano, period table, soft bed, a window with a view and her pet Rottweiler, Maya. The music is usually the electronic tunes of the Swedish group Solar Fields. Hooda’s arty conversations are intelligent and humorous. If she is at work, pick through her daughter’s handmade jackets, reversible and lovely (Rs12,000-18,000). Ask to see the handmade tapestry Tree of Life, priced at Rs24 lakh.
Where: 24/1, Second floor, Hauz Khas Village; 11am-7pm.
• Reopened in January, the revamped Delhi Art Gallery holds new exhibits every month. It deals only with masters such as Tyeb Mehta and M.F. Husain. Come here to inhale the rarefied air of high-value art. The price range oscillates between Rs 4 lakh and Rs 4 crore. A library on the second floor can be accessed if you can convince Kishore Singh, the gallery’s head, that you have more than a passing interest in art.
Where: 11, Hauz Khas Village; 11am-7pm, Sunday closed.
•The Living Room Café & Kitchen has a well-stocked bar, comfy sofas, mirrored toilet, liquor-bottle vases and a charming dowdy character. It comes to life at night. When all of Hauz Khas has gone to sleep, it is still awake with the sound of music. Rock bands perform on Friday nights and DJs take over on Saturdays. Gigs happen on weekdays too. Having opened in November 2008, The Living Room is now going for a change in décor and menu—the new look will unveil this month.
Where: 31, Hauz Khas Village; 11am-1am, open daily.
•Flipside Café, which opened in April, makes 18 types of crêpes. Run by Italian-Indian Raavi Chowdhury (just ask for Raavi Chou), it serves pizzas by the slice. If you’re not hungry, you can spend hours on the coffee and the free Wi-Fi. Framed artworks are for sale and house music is rock ‘n’ roll.
Where: 7, Hauz Khas Village; price for two,Rs 600; 10am-8pm, Tuesday closed.
Graphic by Ahmed Raza Khan/ Mint
Photographs by Divya Babu/Mint