New Money, New Parties — and New Clashes

It is almost impossible in India to meet a young single woman who lives by herself. But today, unlike in the past, clubs here are filled with young single women drinking and smiling at men.

"In the West, the understanding of the world is that 'I'm supposed to grow up quickly and be an independent hero, riding around, doing it all alone,'" Ananth says. In India, "we have a communal mind-set.… But with such a Westernized world that we're living in, at some level I have to be able to survive in that world."

The delicate imbalance India sometimes fails to strike between embracing the Western world and holding onto tradition can be seen in Uppal's family.

Her cousin, she explained, grew up in the Punjab, the Indian state north of New Delhi where most Sikh families live. The state is one of the most rural and also one of the most chauvinistic.

"My cousin ran away from home because of a love marriage," Uppal shares. "When she got back to her village, she was killed. There are parts of our country like that. And there are parts of our country like this."

"This" is the Greater Kailash area of Delhi, just a few hundred miles away from her cousin's village. Uppal sits comfortably next to her husband, whom she fell in love with in college. They are surrounded by friends, drinking, smoking, carefree.

"Our generation, we are actually becoming modern," says 21-year-old Vaidehi Sharma.

Sharma spends her weekends at SmokeHouse Grill, a posh but relatively understated club and restaurant. She points out that it has to close at 1 a.m. by law. There are clubs that stay open later, but they are few and far between.

"The mind-set of the young people is changing," she says. "But it won't change for our parents."

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