Friday, 22 July 2011

A Happy Find

A couple of weeks ago I made a very welcome discovery: Delhi has its own edition of Time Out magazine. This was good news for two reasons. Firstly, it really is unparalleled in making it easy to work out what's going on in the city without subjecting my poor tired brain and eyes to yet more hours of trawling the interweb. Secondly - and unexpectedly - it is comfortingly familiar.

Otherwise known as the curious newcomer's bible and comfort blanket

I like Time Out. Its a well-designed magazine - clear, consistent, fresh enough to feel on-the-pulse but not so hip as to exclude the people who are more interested in the classical music and books listings than the latest club reviews. Its writing style is accessible to everyone, frank and irreverent without being obnoxious, and to my mind achieves a sort of mid-Atlantic English that suits its readership and subject matter (in contrast to, say, The Economist, which takes pride in being very British and of which I am also a fan).

Now I've found another reason to admire TO: their impressive editorial consistency. Reading the Delhi version is like meeting up with an old friend. I'm not sure what I expected: maybe an Indianised version of some sort, full of glaring holes where the definite article should be, a heavy emphasis on Bollywood and lots of family-oriented material.

Whatever I thought, I was wrong. There's quite a bit of Bollywood in there, I admit, and of course rather more listings for sitar recitals than you might find in London. True, the listings sections are substantially shorter than the London version, with some in particular (most notably Theatre and Gay/Lesbian) a mere fraction of what I was used to back home. At one edition every three weeks, it's a rarer treat than the London version. And I can't help but be aware that although the format and types of event and venue listed are similar to London, the target demographic here is much more privileged than the magazine's average London reader.

But other than that, you'd hardly notice you were reading a different version of the magazine. The writing style and design is so consistent, it's as though the TO writing team are supernaturally able to operate in different cities at the same time. I was quite surprised to find how reassuring and pleasurable reading such instantly familiar pages was for me. But then, exploring a new and strange city is even more enjoyable if you have a known and trusted guide. So thank you Time Out, I appreciate your work!

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