A changing Delhi and Shaggy in Pitampura
When organizers for the big Shaggy concert in the Indian capital were hunting for grounds, they zeroed in on west Delhi.
By Hindol Sengupta, IANS
The choice of venue, ignoring usual spots like the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, was an eye opener.
For long the area has been the bastion of middle-class Delhi, filled with homes of salaried and mid-rung businessmen, definitely in the shadow of its sister, hip south Delhi. It is increasingly home to the moneyed, but quite the swish set.
One visit to the area and the stereotypes vanish. To arrive at the Shaggy concert grounds, one crosses newly built multi-layered flyovers that provide much needed breather to the snarling Delhi traffic jams.
At a stone's throw from the concert venue are huge malls with offices of international companies and domestic giants - everything from New York style coffee shops and shop windows filled with designer labels.
Up in the skyline, along with dimly lit silhouettes of private homes, is now a haze of neon - flashing banners, blinking ads.
And as Shaggy danced and crooned, the South Korea-built, air-conditioned coaches of the new metro rail zoomed silently on elevated platforms high above the streets, their white lights forming a backdrop to the laser beams on stage.
The Metro Rail - which has cut travel time from the area to the office heartland of Delhi by half, the flyovers and malls are a microcosm of why Shaggy was singing here and not in swank south Delhi or even at the much-flaunted designer suburb of Gurgaon.
In south Delhi or Gurgaon, it would be preaching to the converted. Pitampura is where the aspiration crowd is.
This is where the new sales are going to happen. This is where they would be most easily convinced that 36-year-old Shaggy is the epitome of cool.
The crowd that attended the show was a clear example of this conversion. Young men and women - aged between 15-20 - mostly school and college students, they had spent Rs.400-Rs.600 for one ticket and easily another Rs.1,000 for what was clearly one of their most important dates.
In the more trendy parts of New Delhi, Shaggy might be considered a has-been - they've moved on to 50 Cent and Eminem. But here, he was god - an international celebrity on home turf.
"He is the first international superstar I've seen with my own eyes," said a smiling Vivek, who came with his girlfriend Sweta. "He is straight out of MTV."
Analysts constantly debate the influence of music television after satellite television entered India in the mid-1990s. They talk of rising aspirations and a growing consumer culture.
This is where it is happening.
Where kids like Sweta, who speaks slightly broken and accented English, come wearing the tiniest micro-mini skirt and a bra top to listen to a Jamaica-born reggae singer.
And confesses: "I don't know many of his songs but Vivek loves 'Boombastic'."
The wide, dusty field where organizers erected an international size stage and made an enclosure of tin and aluminium was the heaven of "coolness" for hundreds like Vivek and Sweta.
Many of who, like Sweta, accepted that they would never wear the clothes they had donned for the concert late on Friday night anywhere else.
"It's amazing that I'm wearing these clothes," said Sweta. "My parents would never allow it but I explained to them that this is an international concert. So it's ok."