New Money, New Parties — and New Clashes

India's middle- and upper-middle classes are now nearly as large as the entire U.S. population. They have never been richer, and they have never been more exposed to the West.

"This country is at an unbelievable moment," Ananth says. "Everything is available simultaneously. Lots of young people are waking up to it, finding ways to express their freedom. Expressing love, mischief, hanging out. It's a product of a society that's in a transformative stage."

Still, 800 million people here still live on the equivalent of less than $2 a day, according to the government.

But for the rich, the country is transforming into a bastion of capitalism and luxury. If the current growth rate continues in India, the average household income will triple in the next 20 years.

Armani and Ferarri are both about to make grand entrances into the Indian market. Louis Vuitton recently signed an agreement with an Indian company, the first non-European brand it's ever invested in. And India is already the world's third-largest buyer of Gucci, according to AC Nielsen.

"Delhi's all about showing it and blowing it," says 24-year-old Mohit Panicker, Arshi Uppal's husband, as the two of them sit smoking a hooka. "The saying here is that 'If I have 10,000 in my pocket tonight, we're spending 9,000," he says, referring to Indian rupees, the equivalent of about $250.

"He'll actually spend 11,000," Uppal jokes.

Nick Shiffrin/ABC News

Kashif Farooq thinks he knows what his generation wants. He opened Urban Pind three years ago when he was just 25. He says he was the youngest club owner in Delhi's history.

"I've been born to re-create Delhi's night life," he says with a smile. Then he kisses a woman known as the duchess of Delhi as she walks by (she's Dutch). One of Delhi's only female bartenders (illegal until recently) buys him a drink.

Farooq knows he's arrived at a lucky time.

"Five years back, you wouldn't find a woman smoking on the street. You wouldn't find a woman smoking in a bar," he says, surrounded by women smoking at his bar. "I'm very lucky that I'm born now. If I were born 20 years later, I wouldn't have anything to do."

That's because he believes the scene is becoming saturated -- diluted by clubs with names like 6 Month Story and Indochine. There have never been more opportunities to drink and smoke, any night of the week.

Time May Change Me, But I Can Still Trace Time

On a Saturday night outside of 6 Month Story, a club about 30 minutes south of central New Delhi, girls in checkered dresses and Coco Chanel bags wait for their chauffeured SUVs to arrive.

A cow walks by at 12:30 a.m., seemingly uninterested in the house music coming out of the white building guarded by bouncers.

Inside, an eastern European woman is dancing in a sports bra and tight pants. Indian women wear short skirts and short heels. Couples from Delhi dance closely, but not as they would in the West. There is still a level of modesty on the dance floors here that has long disappeared from the clubs in Manhattan and London.

"Before I got married, I wasn't allowed to stay up past 10 p.m.," says Uppal. She and Panicker have been married for four months. Before that, they both lived with their parents, and her family didn't know she was dating him until they wanted to get married.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...