City Hangout – Gora Street, Shahpur Jat
The white people’s lane.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Welcome to Gora Street.
The sign clearly indicates this name. But at the moment at least, The Delhi Walla can’t see any “gora”, or white person.
I’m in Shahpur Jat, the south Delhi village of boutiques, restaurants, textile sweatshops and a monument in the corner that nobody bothers about.
But Gora Street?
I step into Shree Govindam Sweets, right under the signboard, for a quick shot of jalebis. A young cook explains to me the logic behind the name: “You see, there are many rooms here for those goras.”
But even as he’s talking, he isn’t looking convinced at all.
I step inside designer Poonam Arora’s trousseau studio bang opposite. She says this part of the village only recently started getting its share of boutiques and that hers was the first to open.
As for ‘gora’, she gives a good-humored smirk ascribing the naming to a local landlord who wanted the lane to sound hip.
The street, in fact, is lined with tonnes of boutiques — mostly stocked with blingy costumes — but is also punctuated with good old mom-and-pop groceries that seem to have been here long before the gentrification.
I step into a long corridor crammed with dress shops with quaintly creative names — Bride and Beautiful, for example. A stylish turbaned man at Warewood, a spanking new footwear shop, guesses that the lane’s unusual name might have come about because “lots of goras come here for shopping.” I spend some time going through the fake crocodile-leather belts before moving on.
I stroll further ahead and ultimately settle inside a tiny green-walled cafe spelled Bean’D. The friendly owner makes me an espresso. It’s so nice and by now I’m feeling so relaxed that I stop worrying about the name and start enjoying the street.
The gora world