Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Losing in song, losing in memory

Somewhere at the start of April 2016, I met my college friends, Sonam and Tshering, in a place by the name of Hauz Khaz Village. In South Delhi, India. And it came as a big surprise to me – firstly by the strange name of the place, and secondly by my unexpected acquaintance.   
This small urban village, right in the middle of South Delhi, was aloof and in a stark contrast from its stormy and noisy neighbors. Its enclosed street was adorned with lights and streamers. All along, it held a plethora of restaurants, jewelry and accessory stores, pubs and cafes.

Unlike other parts of Delhi, this street had no rickshaws and tempos, but mostly Mercedes Benz, Audis, Range Rovers and BMWs were parked in front of its entrance. The people were rich, smartly dressed. So I realized it’s one of the most affluent spots in South Delhi.

However, what fascinated me the most was by its mid-city sense of seclusion, where I could feel both the rural and urban appeal. This small urban development has been enclosed by ancient park, ruins, lake, art gallery, and monuments.

It behooves me to tell you - rather more jubilantly – that the inhabitants were largely musicians, designers, travelers, foodies, book lovers and social activists. Isn’t it fascinating?

They have built their homes and business here. And indeed, it’s a throbbing hub by the artistic people for the creative people.
Cafe out of the box
Three of us walked down the village, enjoying pleasant scene and feeling deeply delighted and rejuvenated. After a while, we chose a café right in the middle of alleyway. Café Out of the Box, its name is.

Situated on the third floor of a building, it’s a cozy café with a dim, intimate space. Its interior was nothing extraneous, but has highly refined and tasteful looks. It had a laid-back atmosphere, altogether, with an attentive urban-rural aesthetic.

A young DJ was playing his music. The Coldplay’s “Hymn for the weekend”, which had exotified India, rocked the hall. A group of strikingly attractive young girls and men danced on the floor. Sure enough, the DJ was terrific, and I like most when he mixed western songs with Indian disco beats.

We took a table and ordered some chilled Heineken beers, cocktails and Italian pepperoni pizza. As we drank our beer, we jived to music and talked about Delhi and particularly this village.

“This place is called Hauz Khaz Village,” Sonam, who was studying in Delhi, informed me. The name sounded strange to me, if I say so.

In the meantime, we went to the café’s terrace. Sonam pointed at the Deer Park and the Reservoir (lake) right below the terrace. I cried in a pleasant surprise, as it’s all unexpected to find a manmade lake amidst a city; the scene was like a beautiful allegorical painting.
Allauddin Khilji (1296–1316), the second ruler of the Khilji dynasty, first built it to supply water to the inhabitants of Siri Fort. In fact, the name is derived from this large Reservoir. In Urdu language, 'Hauz’ means “water tank” (or lake), and ‘Khas’ means “royal” - meaning “Royal tank”.

Gradually, the DJ went onto play Latino Salsa and then he started mixing the beats of some 1990s and early 2000s western melodies. We sat, still drinking our beer, and automatically whistling into nostalgia.

Our time together in college arrested us suddenly. The time when we were young, naïve and passionate. The time when we used to be carefree, funky. The time when we used to sing loud and dance to this particular song of Bonjovi’s In these arms. All those memories unleashed like monsoon rain.
Sonam and I: Time together (Photographed by Tshering)
Instantaneously, we jumped to the dance floor, holding our beer bottle and cocktails. We danced wild and we sang loud, closing our eyes and losing ourselves in the song, losing in the memory.

I'd hold you
I'd need you
I'd get down on my knees for you
And make everything alright
If you were in these arms

Picture courtesy: OTB FB Page and google


  1. Oh Rikku, I didn't know u do dance.... It's a lovely piece. Well written and beautifully expressed.

  2. Amrith Sir, dancing is in my blood. Thanks for the comment!

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