Economic slowdown or not, it's never a bad idea to think twice about how you spend your hard-earned money. Here are some classic ideas to remind you that sensible shopping in Delhi can be as much a joy as it's an art.
Visiting Delhi’s quirky and quaint single-screen cinemas is like stepping into a time warp. The single screened cinema halls, apart from holding on to its old world charm, provide an avenue of affordable entertainment amidst the horde of city’s numerous multiplexes; that will surely drill a hole in your pocket.
Take Delite cinemas, in the midst of the chaos of the walled city it takes pride in the legacy that the hall continues. Delite cinemas’ general manager, RK Mehrotra, fondly recalls how the theatre was decorated for every new release and people who liked the film would come back again to watch a second show.
The cinema has now become a favourite of youngsters or for a family on a weekend outing. “We get many requests for bulk bookings for families and clubs nowadays, as the tickets and even the cafeteria fits perfectly into the budget,” says Mehrotra.
From plush interiors to hand crafted ceilings to carved wooden walls, the ambience hints to a regal semblance. While with gold embroidered, comfort seating alongside Egyptian carpets and Czech chandeliers, Delite seems to have done all it can to bring back the crowd.
According to Sanjay Ghai, a film distributor with Mukta Arts, contrary to the popular belief single screen cinemas are doing exceptionally well, considering that they can’t run parallel shows like a multiplex. “Cinemas like Delite, Liberty, Glitz and even Regal have done well with recent releases like Ranjhaana or Chennai Express,” he says.Furquan A Siddiqui
In the 90’s before the consumer culture hit Delhiites, a day out meant a stroll in one of Delhi’s heritage buildings or a walk through crowded bazaars. However all this was quickly forgotten for a life behind snazzy showrooms. Besides Khan Market, there's been the development of Lado Sarai, Hauz Khas Village, and the new ladies-who-lunch hang out, the tony Meharchand Market. The problem: they all begin to have the same look and feel.
Delhi’s Paharganj market, on the other hand, retains its Dilliwalla charm. Ashok Sharma, historian says, “While markets like Meharchand give you a picture of synthetic India, defined by just a handful of neo-rich, Paharganj gives you a true essence with its history, chaos and cacophony.” Surendar Kumar who lives in Paharganj says, “Salaam Balak trust conducts guided tours by children who were once street urchins for visitors at the bazaar.
Many elite Delhiites come for such tours as it shows you a side of the city we want to hide behind plush malls.”At Paharganj rickshaws, people on foot, strays, and international film stars roam incognito while college students look for deals. Khan Market may have designer outlets which can make your salary vanish in a few hours, but Paharganj is no less fashionable: from designers who come here for inspiration to ladies who know their style, Paharganj, continues to be cool. Stylist Preeti Singh says, “Paharganj summaries Indian fashion as its not a crafted look that you get in showrooms.
You make sense out of the kitsch and juxtapose different elements together." The same goes for the ambience: authentic Iranian rooftop cafes instead of the over-priced pasta joints, and for book lovers, second hand classics for Rs 25 (yes, while the book stores have been disappearing from Khan Market). At German Bakery you can have honey raisin cakes, at Rs 40 a piece, the stuff is tasty and comparable to a cake slice at French bistro Chez Nini in Meharchand, which costs Rs 290, but is served in more posh surroundings.
Zofeen MaqsoodHair cut
With fancy salons started hiking their prices for all the fancy haircuts and add-ons we want to get, you look at the barber sitting near the tree and wonder about his rates. Often, you think, it's just a haircut, and we happily got ourselves one before these fancy parlours opened up, didn't we?
If one is on a look-out for something that’s a slice above the local chop-and-scrape place, and quite fancy as well, rest assured. Some grooming budget options are out there for free or a nominal rate which comes to the equivalent cost of same services about a thousand bucks at any fancy salon.
The Amzadd Habibb Academy in South-Ex where trainee stylists will gladly shampoo, cut and set it up for free and offer free services, of course under a senior’s guidance, even if they are regular on practice. So with no bed-heads,they offer around 16 varieties of haircuts (Wed-Sun, 12:30 pm-1:30 pm). If you want some more slip-ins, carry your spa kit or your hair colours and get that done as well for free. Says, Amzadd Habibb, senior hair designer at the academy, “It’s been some time with this idea and it’s great to see that all kinds of customers, i.e. from students to professionals, from housewives to artists. Some regulars at the fancy parlours also head here a lot.”
The Javed Habib Academy (Mon-Sat, 11am-1pm) at Sainik Farms offers a similar deal. Says hair stylist Manish, who has been there for the past eight years, “The trainee stylists love giving free fancy haircuts and other services as the visitors like it.” Nagina Luthra’s parlour, near the Lajpat Nagar’s Central market, is also getting a lot of ‘on a budget crowd’ as a haircut range there is `150 now which was `99 during April this year. Say Luthra, "We had `99 range for a while and we thought we could hike it a bit. The other big ones hike on a double rate and we aren’t even close to their previous rates. Its visited by quite a number from all classes."
From lush green surroundings of the Ridge in the north to narrow alleys snaking through Old Delhi, the city provides one with numerous backdrops which can be enjoyed and explored on a cycle. While over the past two decades Delhi saw the mushrooming of gymming centres like in other modern cosmopolitan cities, Delhi-ites now seem to be experimenting with different lifestyle changes, including cycling.
“European cities like Paris and Amsterdam have had a trend of cycling since a long time, owing to their dedicated cycling tracks. Delhi, on the other hand, is slowly catching up,” says Ashwath Kapoor, director at Huffy Bicycles. According to Kapoor, cities like Pune and Chandigarh, with their open spaces, already had a cycling culture, and Delhi is getting there.
Over the past two years itself, around 10 big cycling clubs have come up in Delhi and NCR, with each club having more than 200 members (and this is not counting the many other informal smaller clubs being formed), providing a natural, fresh-air — not to mention, cheaper option — to the closed, stuffy environments of gyms.
And though the gym craze – and along with it, the my-gym-is-more-expensive-than-yours culture that Delhiites have a propensity for – continues, Delhi is also seeing a rise in the number of cycle enthusiasts who are starting cycling clubs or joining them and realising the importance of open spaces in the city.
“We started around two years back when we had only 20 members. Now we have over 800 members,” says Gagandeep Singh Bhalla, founder of Gurgaon Fun Riders cycling club. “Many people have moved from gymming, which becomes monotonous after a while, to cycling in the city.” Cycling is not just a work-out activity, it is also a great way to explore the surroundings that Delhi has to offer and the capital’s geography makes cycling all the more exciting. “From India Gate to Damdama Lake in Gurgaon and the small forests in NCR, Delhi has many scenic places which make it a great place to enjoy cycling,” says Bhalla.
Some of these clubs charge no money, providing a chance for people to meet new friends, explore new places and also keep fit. If you don’t have a bike, you can even rent one at Rs 200-300 for a day. Many other clubs provide tours starting from early morning and taking you to various historical places.
During the 80’s almost every youngsters’ wardrobe comprised of at least one custom-made pair of jeans stitched from the then very popular Mohan Singh Place market in the heart of the city. But with the 90’s came liberalization and consumerism became a driving force. Somewhere blinded by the glitz of plush malls and showrooms we were too quick to give up this exclusivity for mass produced jeans from foreign labels.
However with the economic downturn forcing most of us to look at cheaper yet viable lifestyle options, the tradition of a stitched jean seems to be getting somewhat revived.
Aditya Singhal, CEO, It’s My Life jeans, that manufactures jeans for European markets says, “In most developed economies of the world, getting jeans stitched exclusively is a luxury that only super rich can afford. Sadly we have not tapped this novelty and are running towards foreign brands that charge a bomb for a mass-produced jeans.”
A trip to Mohan Singh Place has rolls of denim fabric greeting you through, rows of tailoring and draping shops; you are reminded of the city that once was. The building still bears the run-down feel but the swift speed at which tailors’ sewing machines work you cannot be mistaken that the business is brisk. Mahmood Hasan, a tailor at a corner shop on Ground Floor informs, “Till five years ago the footfalls were really low. I would only stitch 2-3 pieces in a day, so much so that I had to double up as a night watchman to support my family. But for last couple of years now it’s back to 5-8 jeans in a day.”
The USP of the place is that a custom made pair of jeans with patterns and styles of your choice can be made in one and half hour flat.Zofeen Maqsood
Okay, we know we should not eat junk food, but let's face it, who among us isn't guilty? Running out of office late, or between meetings during the day, we'll decide to "grab a bite" and often, this means a quick visit to KFC or McD, for a burger or chips on the run. Parantha outlets, found in every nook and corner of the city, are just as healthy, or unhealthy, and there's no reason why your new best friend should not be the anda parantha-wala who sits near the office than the Dominoes delivery boy.
“The different stuffing like paneer, potatoes and vegetables, make a parantha healthier to eat than fast food like a burger or fried snacks,” says Ritika Samaddar, Dietician at Max Healthcare.
These freshly made paranthas are a great alternative to burgers or pizzas. According to Neeraj Mehta, Fitness Expert, Director at GFFI Fitness Academy, burgers or pizzas have a base of maida (refined) flour while a parantha is made of wheat flour which is much healthier.
Paranthe wala at Moolchand is a favourite night haunt of all party fiends, corporate and even youngsters looking for a quick bite. Where: Ring Road, near Moolchand Metro station; Cost for two: Rs 100
Parantha Point is another place where you can get delicious paranthas at a reasonable price. Where: 210, BGN Market, Munirka; Cost for two: Rs 100
Utsav Paranthe wala is another eatery, which also serves specialities like Kaju parantha, Bhujia parantha, among others. Where: 40 B, Food Court, Kaushambi, Ghaziabad; Cost for two: Rs 250-500