IT WAS THE SECOND WEDNESDAY in October, and Jitender Chaudhury was at his post: standing in the plush lobby of The Lalit New Delhi, a luxury hotel just off Connaught Place. Chaudhury was positioned across from the wall of glass doors common to the entrance of nearly every five-star hotel; over his shoulder, on a wall just above the concierge desk, hung a large painting by MF Husain. To his right, a short flight of stairs led down into Kitty Su, the hotel’s recently inaugurated “exclusive” nightclub—whose exclusivity, if you will, Chaudhury was being paid to protect.
On this particular evening, the club—which ordinarily opens its doors only on weekends—was playing host to an invitation-only private event, the final after-party of Delhi Fashion Week, hosted by the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI). For the first hour or so, beginning at 11 pm, the guests had trickled past in ones and twos; the club, whose gala opening night in August (or so I was told) played host to 1,200 revelers, was still less than half-filled to capacity. But now the crowd waiting to be granted passage through the velvet ropes had begun to swell, and Chaudhury and his fellow bouncers faced a minor but pressing dilemma: they had run out of those paper wristbands that mark each guest with the approval of the gatekeepers.
As a little crowd of restless fashionistas filled up a kind of holding area—delineated by the usual plush ropes and gold-coloured waist-high poles—where they were to wait for their wristbands, Chaudhury stood patiently with another bouncer named Sharad, who had the strong-jawed, pencil-mustached look of a wavy-haired South Indian film star. Together they were to ensure that nobody tried to sneak down the stairs.