For the ever-growing Indian middle class, it was as if a childhood fairy tale had come true as the foreign and exotic became readily available in the mall next door. But just as abruptly, the fairy tale developed a snag in the shape and form of a global recession. In the last 20 years so much has changed that it is difficult to tell fantasy from reality. One way is to take a long hard look in the mirror and to go back where we came from. A special report on the Indian middle class.