There is an unassailable truth that must be acknowledged, that crosses all cultural, linguistic and socio-economic barriers, when it comes to the fine art of Picking Up Chicks.
The Pulling Power of Puppies.
No Jason, not puppies like Nigella Lawson. Puppies as in baby dogs.
That group of guys walking their labradors at Lodi Gardens on Sunday might not have realised the PP of Ps until the moment me and a bunch of friends descended upon them, cooing manically like the oestrogen-charged thirtysomethings we are.
However the guys quickly realised their advantage and, in their broken English, theatrically told us how the litter had been six pups, but three had sadly died in the cold weather and one was at home, still weak. They encouraged us to pick up and pat the pair of six-week old siblings, as their lactating mother Lara growled at our ankles. ("Ooh, Lara as in Brian Lara?" I said, trying to speak cricket. They looked bemused. "No, Lara Dutta.") They demonstrated Lara's tricks (sit! lie! shake hands!) and invited us back home to see the other puppy. Or maybe they meant their etchings.
There's a guy I know in Bombay who is pitching a reality show to various networks here, called, I kid you not, How To Pick Up White Chicks. Matters of taste aside, he should call on these guys to teach the PPP module.
I was in Lodi Gardens for an impromptu gathering; earlier, I'd been at Sagar when my phone beeped. Did I want to join in a game of wiffle ball? Did I ever. I hoovered down my coconut dosa and watermelon juice and off I went. And there, in the shadow of two Mughal-era tombs with intricate Urdu carvings and flaking blue tiles, we played the park version of baseball.
It was great. Nearby, a gathering of white-bearded men who looked like Muslim scholars sat on a blanket, drinking tea. For some reason they became an immensely popular photography subject, particularly when the slanting sunset light hit them at just the right angle.
Later a bunch of us went to the closest place we could get beer in a garden setting, there, I sat in between an Icelander who works for the United Nations and a Canadian out here doing his thesis on telemedicine. For all the hardships and annoyances of living in Delhi, I can't imagine meeting such an interesting bunch of people at the Windsor Castle in Prahran, my former regular weekend haunt when in Melbourne.
It was the same story on Saturday night. It was my lovely friend A's hen's night, and rather that submit to the potential fun of having us tuck 500 rupee notes into a stripper's lungi she opted for a posh meal at Zest. To get to Zest you have to walk through this ridiculous piece of Dubai transplanted into the Delhi outskirts, the DLF Emporio shopping mall, and walk past Jimmy Choo, Versace, and the like. We were led to our outside table past a glass wine wall, past the many kitchens heaping out seven different cuisines, and Barkha Dutt at one of the tables. Turns out it's the see-and-be-seen place. Outside, the air was gently perfumed with lemongrass. How do they do that? I sat between a geologist and a Scottish caterer and we talked about everything from oil drilling in the Rajasthani desert to Brazilians. It was a hen's do after all.
Later, as we waited in the valet bit of the parking lot, I saw in my peripheral vision a man, a minor media mogul, who some months ago made me a job offer that soon after mysteriously evaporated. I briefly considered going up and saying hello but it took just a New Delhi minute to decide against it and instead let him see me climbing into my friend's car with its diplomatic plates. These things matter in this city, after all.