If these walls could talk

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{Eye-catching graffiti in a side alley of Hauz Khas Village}

Growth in Delhi is crazy.  You can literally see the city breaking itself down and rebuilding all at the same time.  In US cities I’ve lived I’ve seen a lot of change happen before my eyes in a short span of years (especially in DC), but nothing compared to what I’ve seen in Delhi the past 7 months.  The only thing that tops it was when I studied abroad in China in 2004.  I went on vacation for three weeks and didn’t recognize my apartment when I came home in Beijing.  I argued with the taxi driver for five minutes before realizing it really was my apartment.  In the 25 days I’d been gone they had paved all the streets and built a whole building outside my home.  It felt like time travel.

In Delhi I live in Defence Colony and work in Connaught Place, which means I’m constantly tripping over construction sites. Each time something finishes, two more things seem to start.  Certain circles in Delhi are getting richer, and more and more is being built to accommodate the growing cosmopolitan tastes of the city.

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{View from Grey Garden’s rooftop (when the weather was more tolerable)}

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{Flipside – one of Delhi’s few work-friendly cafe’s (no loud music, lots of outlets, and free wifi)}

Nowhere is this more true than Hauz Khas Village.  I’ve posted about Hauz Khas Village restaurants here and here, but I honestly can’t keep up with the crazy amount of newly-constructed restaurants and bars opening up each time I go.  It  makes the Mission in San Francisco, a constantly changing foodie heaven (and the neighborhood I would most closely equate with what Hauz Khas aspires to be), seem slow-paced.

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{L & C exploring ruins in Hauz Khas Village, just outside the crowded market}

Not that Hauz Khas aspires to be like San Francisco – it is most distinctly Delhi, and surely made to cater to Dili wale (people from Delhi).  The neighborhood is unquestionably funky but at the same time high end.  The windy (construction filled) streets are lined with odd Italian and French restaurants, alternative bookstores, and expensive boutiques with ripped fabrics that I cannot afford.  You can get a great bagel, you can listen to reggae, you can even get a roast beef sandwhich.  And at the same time, at the center of Hauz Khas Village, the biggest chain restaurants I typically associate with large Delhi malls or Khan Market – like Amici’s pizza, Out of the Box, or Smokehouse – are taking over.

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{Fun and funky flare}

It’s crazy to see within weeks and months whole neighborhoods transition.  I’ve lived in large metropolises now for 12 years, and am used to seeing cities and neighborhoods completely transform.  I wonder if I could get used to living in a place that moves forward at a slower pace, where neighborhood options feel fixed, and you don’t see the hustle of a city or a block constantly discovering what it wants to be, and how it got there.

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