My roommate at the Oberoi Hotel is a prominent fashion stylist She comes to Delhi to embroider luxurious silk, mousseline and taffeta Kaftans from Morocco.These marvels will eventually be worn by wealthy Bohemian-luxe jet-setters and members of the well-heeled Casablanca society, including the royal family of Morocco itself.
It goes without saying that, by osmosis, I am automatically inheriting global connections bridging the growing crowd of affluent Delhi businessmen, socialites, stylists, artists, and their friends, families and entourages, who are all friends of their friends of friends of other friends from Casablanca, Paris and New York we certainly must have met somehow. Whatever.
Zineb, the stylist, calls me on my Delhi cell.” Have you got plans for tonight? She speaks English like a Moroccan who at the moment has a Hindu accent in the British language.”I was thinking of editing my pictures in bed, watching MTV India over a yogurt and champagne, I answer. “Ok,” she says.”It’s a good idea, until I arrive. There are so many cows and the traffic is dense I am still far from the Oberoi, you have time.”
“We are invited to the Consul of Costa Rica reception at the Taj Mahal hotel. We’ll follow to Veda (because you to have a look), and then to the home of a friend of the friends we met last night, who invited us for dinner at his house. After that we are going to a reception for a stylist, friend, and colleague of mine on a “Farm” and after that…..”
I interrupt her and tell her, “It’s OK, I don’t need to know more, it’s OK like that.”
“Get dressed then,” she tells me, “otherwise I will carry on as I am not finished!”
I quickly put on a simple black cotton Ana Abdul dress by my friend the designer from Brazil, and an interesting necklace I bought this morning at the Red Fort. I am ready to face the night in Delhi. At the restaurant Lebanese belly dancers looking more like Hindu deities perform among models, diplomats and boring French businessmen.I beg my friend Zineb to leave as I am tired, jet lagged and terribly hungry.
I must say though, the restaurant Veda is extremely impressive. Its location is among Connaught Place booksellers, kitchen appliances shops and showrooms. Still bearing imperial seats of approval. Veda’s interior is a bold collision between Marbella 1976 and a Moghul mirror palace. What’s interesting, I am told by a local PR while she sips champagne, is that it began life as a ‘Fusion’ restaurant, combining classic Indian and other Asian flavors, but it was a step too far for Delhi foodies.
A reversion to much simpler, northern Indian fare served with a contemporary twist, such as pyramids of rice and cone shaped poppadoms, for example, resurrected its appeal. With its leather banquettes, orange walls, and red glass chandeliers, Veda comes into its own after dark, and I must admit it’s a pleasant place to escape the searing early afternoon heat I tell Zineb I am satisfied and we can proceed to the next dinner at the friend of her friend’s home.
We arrive at the home. A small crowd is enjoying drinks.Apparently the group was back from a show of the Rolls Royce where apparently one was purchased a few hours ago by our host and the occasion needed to be celebrated among friends and friends of friends.He’s a lovely man in his 50’s, his name is Harinder, he wears a dark moustache and is impeccably dressed in an expensive blue suit. Harinder welcomes us, introducing himself.He’s single, divorced and wealthy.
His home is filled with contemporary Indian Art works. They surround the library, living room and the eclectic 1970 dining room.I feel I am coming from an authentic set production of one of the early Wallpaper Magazine editions.Brass columns, reclining Buddha statues, Tiffany lamps, checkered tables in bone and vintage wood. Wow!
We are invited to sit in the impressive dining room. The chairs are very heavy, of massive wood and upholstered in a brown leather matching the interacted mirrored pattern in the ceiling. He excuses himself because the main cook is not feeling well and therefore we should be content with a ” fewer” varieties of culinary house specialties: Tandoris, Masalas, Raita, a cooling yogurt salad – everything is so spicy – all kinds of curried meats including minced lamb; chicken with the name of Reshmi ; Seek, and Mughlai Kebabs; rice and vegetables; warm, delicious Chapati Indian Bread and all sorts of pickles, and chutneys served by a troupe of very young help.
They light the candles, they serve the wine, they move the heavy “royal” armchairs, they invite us to sit. They know everything they need to do just by looking at the host’s eyes. Impressive! I remember I had to repeat several times to my help in Brazil the same requests over and over again!
We celebrate, and when I ask the pr what the host does she replied, “Business”. With this answer, the wine in my head and the delicious food in my stomach, once more I beg my friend Zineb to take us out of this wonderful apartment into cool elevator with acrylic cubic lamps on its ceiling and move on into the rest of the night lights .
We are heading to a party at a farm. Delites (Delhi inhabitants) that live in the center of the city like to spend their weekends in these spacious farms in the city suburbs. They are generally houses with huge gardens and pools where most of the parties, weddings and reception take place. We are invited to a stylist’s 50th wedding anniversary.The evening is cool and Zineb operates in this environment like a queen from Morocco landing on a conquered land.
Torches, garden lights, Bohemian chandeliers, Ferraris, Mercedes coupes, candles, jewelry and sarees and more food delicacies are the main attraction of this late evening. People talk about the latest fashion designs, some gossip regarding the wedding season and the latest London exhibitions I am getting sleepy but stimulated and entertained by a young and very charming Indian Jewish Photographer called Sidi Tawadey. He invites me to his exhibition ” Une Vague de reves” A wave of dream on March 31 . I will be in New York City…but his light, very green eyes are captivating, and they are telling me gently I should stay.
We are now on our way to Manre, the ultimate and newest spot in town. It’s almost dawn. Chris Miller, a young American enterpreneur who is part of the group, suggests we spend some of our time at this place. It is in the very south of the city, in the neighborhood of Saket, at the MGF Metropolitan Hall.
Named after a small town in the Champagne region of France, Manre is the brainchild of Ramola Bachchan and her partner Kanwar Deep Singh whose vision it was to create a luxurious dining-out experience of international standards in New Delhi. Glamour and sophistication meet here in this sprawling dramatic space, where attention to detail and impeccable service underline an exquisite culinary experience.
In addition the uberstylish bar has become a popular hangout with the cocktail set. Stylish men and women are intimately gathered on white leather armchairs in private dining rooms, a larger party is taking place on the terrace rooftop.The music is loud, with Samba Euro beats. Chris, who is young and handsome, tells me that Manre has become the favored destination for the Capital’s cool crowd as well as the global traveler, where four distinct experiences in the same location seamlessly string together from breakfast to dawn!
The rest of the group left for the Singapoure brand Indochine, at Lado Sarai not far away from where we are and Magique in the Garden of 5 Senses behind Saket. I am ready for a very deep and long sleep in this city, when I thought it was only New York that never sleeps.
I undress and look at the small embroidered pouch I got as a gift from Zineb from a small hype shop called Mai near the Hotel. It depicts a couple in a luxurious jeweled encounter….who knows, I may get to be part of what is the marriage experience in Delhi.
Good night, I will dream about it…who knows, my dream may come true.
The restaurants- Bar- lounges :
Veda : H 27, outer circle Counnaught Circus New Delhi, 110001 Tel + 91 11 41513535
Manre bar M.G. Road saket New Delhi H.O. 110001 / Ph: +91 11 4066 8888 +91 011 4066 8888
Indo Chine Forbidden City: Lado Sarai, Aurobindo Marg (beside Qutab Golf Course), New Delhi; ph: 29523330.
The Garden of Five Senses Said-ul-Ajaib / Mehrauli – New Delhi PH: +91 11 4600 8333
Olives bar & Kitchen: Address: Kalkadass Marg, Haveli No 6-8, One Style Mille, New Delhi, 110030 / Ph: +91 11 2664 2552/ Fax: +91 11 2664 4860 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bukkhara: ITC Maurya Sheraton Hotel, Sardar Patel Marg, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri, Delhi, 110021 / Ph: +91 11/2611-2233
The Shop: Mai – d1o- opposite Nirulas, New Delhi 110024 / ph +91 11 465-43-3600/