Shopping In Delhi

Whether it's jostling with the hoi polloi through one of the old city's crusty bazaars, haggling over the price of jootis (beaded shoes) or taking a languid look at designer 'salwar' 'kameez' boutiques in the stylish Santushti Complex, you will find the most stunning arrays of things to buy in Delhi. Orissan trinkets, Rajasthani puppets, Hyderabadi pearls and homegrown bellybutton bindis- they are all here.

And then there is the eye-popping contrasts: you can browse for the latest Indian ready-to-wear at a snooty shopping enclave in the morning- rubbing shoulders over blueberry pancakes with Delhi's elite- then spend the afternoon sniffing out spices to make the perfect biryani at the Old City's rough-and-tumble spice market.

If at any time, you feel you are about to drop while you shop, simply slip into the closes sari shop, where sari after sari will be enthusiastically flung out as you cool your heels over a hot tea.

Welcome to 21st century Delhi, where women cocooned in chiffon saris walk side by side with girls wearing hipster jeans and belly-flashing singlet tops. Jeans and T-shirts often outnumber saris and salwar kameez in middle to upper-class suburbs; some political parties have pointed the finger at American soap operas for brainwashing young women into dressing proactively, with some even lobbying to ban such shows. Their cries seem to have fallen on deaf ears, judging from the boutiques springing up to meet the city's appetite for fresh designs.

The sari and salwar kameez are making a big come back with a funky twist. What's life without a twist, after all? The flesh-revealing backless choli (sari blouse) has become the ultimate fashion statement in certain high-society circles, while salwar kameez in crepe or georgette- with fine prints, glorious colours and raised embroidery- offer both evening glamour and the day time convenience of the trouser suit.

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