Tag Archives: Yodakin

Aap Kare toh Renovation, Hum Kare toh Gentrification

It appears that a Delhi bookstore has relocated. This, in itself, isn’t news in a city of relocation,dislocation, demolition, destruction; a city built, looted and sacked at least seven times. Yet, the emotional coverage of Yodakin’s move – from one part of Hauz Khaas village to another – assures us that Delhi has lost a vital cultural hub, a “safe space”, an “indie book store with the ambience of a salon“. In a city of “aggression, pollution and anxiety”, Yodakin apparently offers us “reassurance”.

The problem, familiar to any intellectual in search of reassurance, is skyrocketing rents. As one particularly maudlin tribute explains: (emphasis in original):

I remember sitting with Arpita and Smita (of 11.11 Celldsgn/ The Grey Garden/ Elma’s/ Edward’s & TLR) at Elma’s across the street from Yodakin (the bakery was still only open for tastings) and vociferously advocating a shopkeeper’s union of sorts back in 2011.We were concerned about the escalating rates, discussing the impending gentrification (and doom) of our little alternative urban village. Everything popular gets subsumed into consumer culture eventually, we argued. The alternative is always being wiggled out of the spaces it fosters. The little guys make the place and then the big rich guns swoop in to ruin it, commercialize it.

But, don’t panic just yet, the bookstore is now sharing space with an organic food and art cafe called Tattva, where a  Tattvaamrita “Fruit Yogurt with Honey and Nuts” costs Rs 245, and a “cooling fennel juice” costs Rs. 175.  If the little guys are charging Rs 625 plus tax for a couscous salad, one genuinely fears what the “big rich guns” will charge. This of course brings us to a much needed conversation about all the things that you talk about in when you live in Delhi: Gentrification, alternative publishing, independent bookstores, and the all things that New York has and Delhi shall soon acquire.

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