February 15, 2020
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One Knight’s Campaign

My drink-addled peregrinations through the wastes of bacchanalia

One Knight’s Campaign
Illustration by Sorit
One Knight’s Campaign

When I go out, I generally go all out. When I am with friends who want to go mad on a particular night, it will be a no-holds-barred situation. Delhi is a city with many peculiarities. One of them is the concept of farms where the posh, South Delhi set (of which, needless to say, I am an enviable member) have their home away from home. In the summer, pool parties at farms are major events. Even small dos end up being 200-people affairs. In the winter, these farms end up being venues for numerous lunches, parties and wedding events. The winter also brings another variable into the mix—Delhi’s now infamous fog. One would imagine the fog to be a deterrent, but that would be for sensible  people.

Surprisingly, I began my alcoholic indulgences with a sensible lot on Thursday nights at the Delhi Gymkhana Club, which was very popular at the time. Being a prominent cog of the posh, obviously I was a member, and at Rs 14 a drink, vodka (and its sidekick, lime juice cordial) and I became quite good friends. Reality would hit fairly soon when the evenings would carry on at Someplace Else at The Park hotel.

My consumption of alcohol was quite irregular—every couple of months. I would travel often to Mumbai on work and with friends there have spent many fun evenings at Indigo, Enigma, Athena, Taxi et al, but they were few and far between. And then about five years ago, the floodgates burst open. Suddenly, every month became every couple of weeks, changed into every week, which soon became twice a week. I also happened to drink more at every outing. This happened for two reasons. As you get more social and get invited out fairly often, you will realise (at least, I did) that until you have 3-4 drinks, making conversation with most Delhi-ites is a chore. They are either vacant, dull or want to bore you with tales of their latest lucre loot.

Secondly, in Delhi we have four seasons, not three as is commonly perceived. Summer, monsoon and winter are distant (and quite boring) cousins of the wedding season. Weddings now entail endless open house dinners, ‘youngster’ parties and then numerous ceremonies, most of them in a farm. If you don’t drink (and get drunk quick), some auntie will try and hit on you or some uncle will recount stories of when he was 25—both highly undesirable.

It was at one such ‘youngster’ party that I found myself behind one person in the line for the toilet. After waiting few minutes, I asked him if his business would take long since mine was a little urgent. I continued to ask him if he was holding up ok when suddenly the door opened and four guys emerged, quite dazed. This chap then goes and another three jumped in with him from nowhere! They looked like a ‘crack’ assault team. There I stood, laughing, marvelling at my stupidity—powdering ones nose now has a different connotation. Plus, he must have thought I was alluding to us spending a night of passionate indulgences!

Delhi has also had its share of places attempting to be uber-exclusive, and it all started with this phenomenon called Djinns at the Hyatt Regency. My friends and I would hang out there from 7 pm just so that no one would dare stop us later! More recently, LAP at the Samrat hotel has attempted this ruse with some success. You walk up there and try to get in, they refuse. Then you drop a name and get rockstar-like treatment. Given that I am posh, I don’t like to massage brainless managers’ egos or palms, so there is usually someone else more connected who obliges; that suits me just fine!

Any night out for me, except for the ones in wedding season, where the indulgent host ensures there is plenty of nosh with the grog, is incomplete without a late-night (early morning is more accurate) snack/ dinner/ breakfast, at a coffee shop in a city hotel. It makes for an interesting image—one person with his head buried in the table, someone else trying hard not to nod off and failing, a non-drinker who is overjoyed at our leaving the bar and relishing coffee, two to three women dissecting the past evening, few others who are just vacant. Oh yeah! Someone will be ordering sometime soon.

I enjoy my nights out and invariably, they become quite late. Unfortunately,  in Delhi one ends up meeting most of the same fellow-cool people wherever one goes. But, am I hopeful that the Commonwealth Games will ensure new places open and stay open late? Am I hopeful that we will see a general boost in quality of offerings? Am I hopeful that there will be a greater variety of cuisine and concepts to engage consumers? Absolut-ly!

(The author is a bon vivant, rarely eats dinner at home and has an ever burgeoning collection of restaurant/ hotel loyalty cards. He is also a sports marketing professional.)

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