Monday, November 16, 2009

City Life - Are You an Upper Class Delhi Walla?

The Delhi walla's pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls - Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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Big Car People

We all have dreams.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Some people have a woman’s soul trapped in a man’s body. I fancied having a South Delhi (read Jor Bagh) soul trapped in an East Delhi flat. One evening that illusion ended for good.

After much scheming, I managed to get an invite to the birthday bash of an ex-Maharani (I'm her friend’s friend). There I was – at a white bungalow in Malcha Marg, a diplomat-dense neighbourhood in Central Delhi. Uniformed security guards, a driveway, a garden, and Her Highness’s car - so long, so sleek.

In the living room, the coffee table had a candelabrum lit up with five candles. The sofa was velvety. The bookcase was full, and the maid greeted in English. The welcome drink was champagne. The music was by Bach or perhaps Beethoven or perhaps Chopin or some such person. The total effect was very civilised. I imagined this to be home. Until more guests streamed in.

First came a Kashmiri businessman and a French art dealer. Then a book publisher. He was followed by a lady who divided her time between Pondicherry and Nizzie (Nizamuddin East, not Nizamuddin West). Then came an Old Money who had his own house in Amrita Shergil Marg.

This was the topside of the Upper Crust Delhi. I made a ‘We all are Khan Market-ies’ eye contact with the Amrita Shergil man. His shoes were probably worth more than my entire monthly salary. I tried making polite talk with the Frenchman till the time he said that I speak like Mickey Mouse. Keeping my composure, I asked the ex-Maharani for more champagne - so casually as if I have it every evening.

I continued ‘acting’.

I pinched my lips sadly when the Kashmiri businessman told me – in Emma Thompson’s accent - how cosmopolitan Srinagar once was. I nodded knowingly when the Pondicherry lady noted that “school fees in London are killing". Soon I got drunk, got tired of being a Jor Bagh type.

Then all I wanted was to curse in Hindustani, gulp down a Patiala peg, and order chhola bhautras from Haldiram’s. It was getting suffocating. When the clock struck 12, I said my Salaam-Namaste and escaped out into the open air. It was clear: I could never walk, talk and laugh like a upper class Delhi walla. So?

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice piece...funny, dry, the description of a few stereotypes one might find in an upper-crust shindig was cleverly done.You seem to be okay enough with the champagne,so that should count for something! Maybe you just need to fill up on cholle bhaturre before attending classy parties!

Anonymous said...

Haha. Excellent.

Ramit said...

Hehehehehehehehehe! That was so cute!

binu said...

it's so witty.

Anonymous said...

You look like Mickey Mouse.

Anonymous said...

mayank please write something bitchy

phebe said...

I have to agree about those stereotypes. If there is one thing I am not so agreeable about India, it is not the spitting or the peeing but these Upper Crusts. I once walked into a restaurant at a Gurgaon mall with my jeans and T-shirt, and everyone was looking at me with disdain. Never felt so unwelcomed in my life.

That being said, I have met an Upper Crust family who is really nice. I guess there are some exceptions. Are there more of these nice Upper Crusts around?

India is a great place, just that there seems to be an invisible wall between these Upper Crusts, and the middle class. Are Upper Crusts happier people in general?

Abdusalaam al-Hindi said...

Funny post. I liked the stereotypical descriptions of the rich and famous.

On a somewhat related note. I recently met a Delhiwala who, on hearing me talk about this blog, remarked, 'it's a good blog, but I don't like its writing.'

I don't know what he's talking about. If this is bad writing, then I have to confess, I don't know what good writing looks like.

Abdu
( http://abdusalaam.blogspot.com )

a n k | t said...

"you talk like Mickey Mouse" - aaawww... thats funny

neways, dude we gatta meetup some time this new year!!! m returning to Delhi after a long sabbatical; how can I miss a chance of meeting up with India's Most Happening Blogger...lemme know, I have a couple of frens who would also like to meet with you... :]

Amit J said...

i like the fact that you used 'hindustani' instead of 'hindi'....very subtle but an important difference nevertheless

Anonymous said...

Mayank,
Very bad illustration of "upper crust" class. And what about the photograph? that doesnt seem to be from any upper crust area. You should have taken some from Malcha Marg and posted them here.

The idea was good but I guess you didnt meet the correct upper class people...they were not worth being mentioned in your article.
Sumanta

Anonymous said...

Dude, if u happen to have big money in your life ... one day you will become like "them".

Get a Life! whinger!!

Vishal said...

witty, luved it mate......... reminds me of an instance of my own, once i was staying at Shraton so I went to the top floor for a meal with my date and only two tables were occupied, our and two tables away two ladies, they started to gossip loudly in intolerable upper crustosh lingo.....you took it for a while, but we could not tolerate, so we asked the waiter and requested the waiter in loud enough voice (to ensure those ladies can hear us) that) imitation upper crusty voice to move us to the furthest corner......... they fell so silent and were so dumb struck....... what a pleasure it was to see unka chera ..... pricess .......... maaza agaya

Vishal said...

REQUEST TO ALL VISITORS

Why not leave your own such experiences here, please :)

Vishal said...

Dr Vishal's THEORY OF RELATIVITY

Come to think of it, this Upper Crust or High Brow or Stiff Upper Lip or Upptish kinda behaviour is a relative term..... We too are culprit of this behaviour........ Refering to another one of you blog regarding Husseini Hotel next to an open stinkin drain that cooks cheap uncovered greasy food...... For may be yukky and unhigenic but for poor hardworking honest people with hand-to-mouth existance it is a sumptous feast after a hard days work.

Rima Kaur said...

glad you escaped the suffocation

Anonymous said...

Hey Mayank

i agree with you,coz i have also faced it many times,trust me i waz feeling the same what you were feeling there...........delhi upper class is full of show off......

Rashmi said...

Just to balance the picture, why don't we look at what happens on the other side, I remember this "decent", middle class bash where girls mix rum in their coke because they're too coy to be open, and some who smoke only in parties because they think it makes them look hip, some turning 55 trying to look 30 auntieji pawing to find in a most direct and tawdry manner what my family does for a living. BTW, I've grown up in the less posh Nizzie West- though I thankfully never heard it addressed so tackily,in the 25 years that I spent there.If it wasn't so amusing, the childishness and the pettiness of middle class can be as suffocating as your experience of upper crust, As a true blue delhite, living outside India, I really enjoy your blog, and the evocative photographs, even though the one titled "Liberated Woman" makes me cringe. If only it was that easy to liberate a woman, we can hand them all a glass of wine, and we'd have an emancipated society.
Sorry for the rant, I really do like your blog..but I had to point out that the appaling behaviour you had to put up with is everywhere.

Anonymous said...

So Realistic. I come from one of these families and now live in the states, where the rich are a bit more normal. The sad thing is that upper class people in Delhi strive to be what is considered boring in the US. aka the type where all the family members are on prosaic and have no personality.

Harleen Singh said...

I read this post and instantly some memories flashed by. I went to school in Malcha Marg ( Carmel Convent School) and rubbed shoulders with people you described all day, every day. It's not just the upper class of Delhi that carries a chip on their shoulder. In contrast, I find the middle class to be less accepting. My experience with them has been similar to yours with the wealthy. Only they have the shield of being middle class protecting them for their behavior while the upper class gets tagged as snooty.
I think all Delhites fit your description of the upper class.

It was only once I left Delhi for my undergrad abroad did I realize what Delhi is all about. Till then I has rose tined glasses with which I viewed my beloved hometown with. Delhi is definition of class-ism, it is where living on the surface is the way of life. Not just the upper class, but each and every one of us have it ingrained in us, all classes alike.
Delhi is frivolous and superficial. But we love it despite it all. No, I think we love it for it all?!

Love your blog!
- A loyal Delhi-walli