Green Park is a leafy, well-to-do suburb of India’s capital and it became my home for two months whilst I interned at Katha, a renowned publishing house in New Delhi. Western giants Costa Coffee and Dominoes rub shoulders with indigenous businesses such as Evergreen Sweet House and A2B serving proper Indian delicacies, and stalls selling momos and fresh fruit juice.
Being alone and a long way from Bury St. Edmunds, I found myself searching for similarities with my beloved home town. Stepping out of my house one morning I came across the first one. Back home we have a shop named Thing – me – bobs which sells a cheap and cheerful selection of homewares. In Green Park, the entire contents of said shop can be seen peddling through the residential streets on a single push bike. A wallah nestled amongst the buckets and brooms calls out, “Araaaaaaay!” to attract the attention of housewives and servants who might be interested in purchasing one of his scrubbers.
A short walk through the heavily polluted streets of Green Park Extension and Safdarjung Enclave took me to the deer park; a beautiful green space teaming with wildlife, families having picnics, amorous couples, and breakdancing youths. I came across this brilliant notice . . .
Some male individuals were taking the advice of the sign a little too literally in the rustling bushes. Moving swiftly past the leering hedgerows, I found the lake and ancient ruins, highly reminiscent of the Abbey Gardens back home.
On the other side of the park lies Haus Khas, an arty enclave that feels very western for Delhi. It’s like Shoreditch but with an Indian twist if you can imagine that.
One of its most endearing features is the street art adorning the hotchpotch buildings. Here’s a small selection . . .
Eating decent Indian food thrice daily is a great pleasure but sometimes, all I wanted was a plate of fish and chips, a pizza or an enormous slice of cake. Elma’s Bakery provided me with all of the western indulgences I possibly could wish for, including a proper cup of coffee.
The cakes at Elma’s were the best I’ve ever had and I rushed back every weekend to work my way through their tantalising selection.
Despite my desire to find the the familiar in my new surroundings, there were plenty of uncanny occurrences happening every day just to remind me where I actually was. The carnivalesque spectacle of a wedding procession, men ironing garments and sharpening knives on the streets and, very occasionally, a stark naked Jain man with a crowd of devoted followers – all slices of life in this charming little enclave of Delhi.