Hanging out with the crowd

None | ByChinmai Gupta, New Delhi
Jan 31, 2007 03:50 PM IST

Pubs are not the only places to let your hair down. Shopping hubs and cafes are popular too, writes Chinmai Gupta.

So you are not the hanging-out-at-parks or the party-animal type and too young to gain entry into nightclubs without raising a few eyebrows? Don't know where to hang out at? No sweat. From having few swanky places to chill out at, youngsters in Delhi are now spoilt for choice.

No more do people have to meet in parks or dingy chai-coffee shops, their hearts constantly thundering at the thought of being spotted by some nosey neighbour. From snazzy cafés and cool ice-cream parlours to swanky malls and happening markets, you can have your pick.

And there is nothing like combining retail therapy with hanging out with friends. Just head to the M block market and you'll know what we mean. "I frequent the GK 1 M block market at least twice a week. If not to pick up something off the street shelves, then it is to meet friends or just to check out the crowd," says Nandini Mittal of JMC College.

Khan Market, on the other hand, is seen as the hub of the intellectual types, who enjoy browsing through the racks at the scores of bookstores. Then there is Defense Colony, Ansal Plaza, Connaught Place — the whole of Delhi, it seems, is an extended chill-out zone.

After pacing the crowded streets you'd naturally be tired. Relax. How about a cup of coffee in a clean and cushy café or a lounge with attitude and ambience to boot? Café Coffee Day and Barista outlets dotting the city are hot favourite with the young crowd. Here they can squabble over a game of scrabble, read a book, strum a guitar or sip a cup of coffee, often for hours together. "The coffee here is inexpensive, the music good and you invariably bang into someone you know," says Shivani Upreti, an MA student. With Miles Davis and Bob Marley posters adorning the walls and live jazz performance once a week, Café Turtle is another good place for a rendezvous. Where else can a self-respecting, 15-year-old get hassle-free entry into a dimly lit place with cigarette smoke curling up blue walls?

Cha Bar at the Oxford Book Store, Village Café opposite IIT and Ego Café at New Friends colony are some of the other up-market crowd-pullers. Any teenager or 20-something will swear by Big Chill at East of Kailash. Says Shweta Markandeya, an MNC employee: "I took my dad to Big Chill last weekend and it was incredible to see him excitedly rattle about the retro movie posters plastered on the walls. People of all ages can relate to this place." For those who want to catch a movie, Vasant Vihar and Saket still seem to be the best bets. As for the foodies, Dilli Haat has enough to satisfy your appetite.

Not to mention the air-conditioned malls across the city would be to miss the point. Here's where you can spend hours in comfort without the anxiety of being asked to leave or to empty your pockets. With so many watering holes and wallet-friendly malls, people like Abhiroo Chauhan of ACDC college are rare. "I like visiting the Hauz Khaz monuments, seeping in the impressive view of the lake and Lodi Gardens. They are good places for jogging or spending quality time with friends." There is never a dearth of places for some stolen moments.

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