Delhi is a city that knows its nights from its days. Unlike Mumbai, that needs to be constantly on the move, the capital needs its beauty sleep and makes sure it gets it. Bursting at seams during the day, the dark falls suddenly and within minutes, everything- the malls, movie theatres, restaurants - shut down. At that unearthly hour, a group of people turn off their computers and come out on the deserted streets. In reality, the spectacle is not as glamorous as one would imagine.
We are the people who work in BPOs, media organisations and other such setups that require us to start our professional day when others are ending theirs. By the time we are done, the city is already dreaming. For the singles in the city, there is no place to catch the latest movie, no restaurants open for a good late-night snack, and for the woman, the discussion has ended even before it has started.
The lack of nightlife in Delhi is much more than just fancy pubs and discos. For many it means no dinner if you miss the time slot, no public transport to go back home unless one is counting the expensive cabs, security barriers in most public spots and and a general sense of insecurity that comes from silent, deserted roads of an otherwise throbbing city. In a bid to make the city secure by virtually locking up every body indoors post 10 pm, the authorities seem to have forgotten that many more crimes happen when no one is there to intervene, or even witness them.
For singles who have come from other states and wouldn't know of Delhi's snobbish idiosyncrasies, the issue is much more grave. Most think of posh localities to be expensive and hence safer, while the 'poorer' or Lal Dora areas as 'shady'. My personal experience says more people, no matter what the hour, means more safety. So the nightlife, if I may be audacious enough to call it that, is to be found in these shady places.
The small dhabas and khomchas, selling paranthas, cigarettes, cold drinks and such at 10 times the price are thriving in the absence of competition, in very peculiar places. Word-of-mouth is good enough. People throng to eat bread and omelette to the street in front of AIIMS, or dry, days-old sandwiches to rare all-night-long centres, because 'what else can you do at this hour [12 am]?' And just those few hungry night-birds make me feel safe when I venture to these haunts.
So now, it's not only the parents or other well-wishers who want me to do something 'normal', during 'normal' working hours [translated as 10-5], it's my city as well that wants me to go early to bed. Whether that will make me healthy, wealthy and wise, is a debate for another day.