Banerjee and Utsav Basu, Millennium Post
New Delhi, 27 September 2015
Creative cafes, restaurants and delivery joints are slowly but steadily creating a whole new culture in the Capital.
A food capital as it already is, Delhi is a labyrinth of connections that interlinks one neighbourhood to another and most importantly, migration has been a steady theme in this city giving rise to an array of preferences and predilections. So, do we consider it to be a fortunate adventure? Give in to the indulgence and find out for yourself.
These days, professionals are either working through the night or are awake watching movies, TV shows or partying hard. Since they are up at odd hours, they often feel hungry much after restaurants close – like midnight snacks and beverages or are in need of other essentials like medicines as well.
There are a number of outlets indulging in this business these
days. But what is interesting is the fact that these outlets are
not evenly spaced out all over the national Capital. Enviably
so, these 24×7 outlets are concentrated in particular areas like
Gurgaon and South Delhi respectively. Some of the most popular
midnight delivery services are Batman Delivers, Midnight Munchies,
The Night Shift, Cravebusters, Midnight Cravings, Captain Grub
and the like.
You can order the best of biryanis, kathi rolls, salads, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas and even paranthas from Batman Delivers, apart from party items and medical essentials, cigarettes, tissue papers and disposable plates/cups. They deliver in Gurgaon and South Delhi but you have to pay a delivery charge of Rs 50 with an approximate delivery time of 40 minutes.
Midnight Munchies operates in South Delhi and offers delicious vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals like pizzas, noodles, wedges, nuggets and chicken bomber sandwiches, along with soft drinks, juice and packaged water. They do not have any delivery charges but the minimum order has to be upto Rs 350. Cravebusters is a popular late night delivery service, operating in 130 localities in Delhi NCR and promises hot and delicious food every time. Known for their unbeatable burgers, Captain Grub functions in South Delhi and Gurgaon only. Midnight Cravings is located at Vikas Marg and delivers around East Delhi.
These are just a few examples which show the concentration of 24×7 food outlets only in Gurgaon and South Delhi. Keeping this in mind, it has become very important to understand the reason why they are spaced out the way they are and what business orientations the owners have that have encouraged them to open such outlets in these respective areas only.
Sangeeta Singh, Head of Street Food Programmes, National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), explains: “As far as I understand, South Delhi is considered to be a very posh area and has a history of its own. Most people residing there are bureaucrats and businessmen who have a very rich background. East Delhi or the Trans Yamuna as it is called was never a good choice in the 1970s and 1980s for residential purposes.”
Elaborating on how the different strata of society are spaced out in the national Capital, she goes on to say: “Delhi being the capital attracts people across India for a better future. The city has very good mix of working class, educated and un-educated business class, landlords comprising the local Gujjars and Jats, migrant workers (unorganised sector). The social strata of Delhi have unique characteristics as compared to other Metros or big cities in India. Old Delhi is dominated by the local business class, South Delhi by locals as well as educated business class and bureaucrats; North mostly by the Punjabis, East Delhi is dominated by migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh while West is again a mix of Punjabis and migrants.
Prof J S Rajput, Former Director of NCERT, elaborates on how important social profiling is to run a business. He goes on to say: “Who has not seen young people in their executive suits and ties, sweating on roadside stalls, grabbing a plate of noodles working through long hours trying to crack a deal. In business, it is all about profiling. It is all about making an impression which will help them start and run a business successfully. Everything else is secondary.”
Highlighting on why there are a lesser number of 24×7 food joints or essential outlets in East Delhi compared to South Delhi and Gurgaon, Sangeeta Mittal, Associate Professor, Department of English in Maharaja Agrasen College, says: “There are lesser number of 24×7 outlets, I think, due to law and order constraints and lifestyle of lowerandmiddle middle-class in the area. People who work during the night or require to access groceries or drugstores after midnight are very few.” She tries to reason out the cause behind the concentration of such food joints in South Delhi and says: “I think the elite class refers to the high income groups. While some people are those who have been living in South Delhi since Independence and Partition in what began as refugee settlements making it big later in life, the rest are those who shifted after Independence to cash in on the developing political and professional opportunities in Delhi. Diplomats, NRIs, MNC workers, government servants and many more today stay there due to proximity to their workplaces.”
Mittal further adds: “Delhi has a cyclical demography. People prefer to live nearby to where they work. They also live where they are able to afford rent or to purchase property. But more well-to-do then shift to places with more spacious and luxurious houses, more sophisticated and safe urban housing options and locations with more facilities and better urban planning, if these locations are in peri-urban spaces like Gurgaon, Noida or farmhouses in what has today become Delhi NCR. The spaces vacated by them are occupied by the upwardly mobile aspiring migrants who continue to flock to Delhi for educational or professional reasons.”
Devangshu Dutta, head of retail research group, Third Eyesight says in a report: “There is an emerging consumer segment that works longer hours, especially among the workforce in the country’s outsourcing and technology industry. There has to be something catering to them.”
Technology and new-age entrepreneurship have changed the face of food ordering business in India. Today, you can order ingredients for a Greek salad or have biryani flown from Hyderabad to any city through apps on your mobile phone or at the click of a mouse. But in hindsight, it is a developing business and though several areas need to be incorporated within its ambit, the craze is growing slowly but steadily. And with that, the need for more 24×7 essential outlets is increasing by the day.
So, leave alone the physical component of a midnight craving and stop being overwhelmed by the need. Here’s your lip-smacking delight at 3 am, waiting for you to dig in. Now, whether up for an exam or watching matches till late night, bored at work or feeling low and stressed out at the crack of dawn, no need to introspect for inner peace. Just pick up the phone and order your favourite meal, for the night is still young!
"There are lesser number of 24×7 outlets, I think, due to law and order constraints and lifestyle of lower and middle-middle-class in the area. People who work during the night or require to access groceries or drugstores after midnight are very few- Sangeeta Mittal, Associate Professor, English Department, Maharaja Agrasen College
"South Delhi is considered to be a very posh area and has a history of its own. Most people residing there are bureaucrats and businessmen who have a rich background. East Delhi or Trans Yamuna as it is called was never a good choice in the 1970s and 1980s for residential purposes – Sangeeta Singh, Head of Street Food Programmes, National Association of Street Vendors
(Published in Millennium Post.)