Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Dhruv Sangari-Bilal Chishty, Jangpura

The parlour confession. [Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi] He is special. Not only for being an acclaimed Sufi musician but because he is our living link to the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Dhruv Sangari-Bilal Chishty trained under…

Mission Delhi - Pooran Chandra Melkani, Paharganj

One of the one percent in 13 million. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Lamps are off. Tables are empty. Old posters on the wall are showing photos of Buddha and Benares, palak paneer and vegetable burger, etc. A…

City Life - Fire-Side Memoirs, Roshan Pura

Finding old times. [Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi] It is a cold late afternoon. Four labourers are sitting around a makeshift fire they have lit up from a pile of wooden planks. Two of them are in their…

City Faith - Shiv Prajapati Mandir, Near New Delhi Railway Station

A wayside shrine. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] This is the Capital’s super-congested heart, next to the New Delhi railway station. Outside, the road is clogged with cars and autos and the pavement packed with purpose-filled masked humans….

City Walk - Signature Chowk Bridge, Gurgaon

Beyond the practical utility. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Open sky. Nobody. Just you and your solitude, and a quiet walk mid-air. Footover bridges are among the most escapist places of a city, especially when suspended in places…

City Food - Delhi-UP Border Cuisine, Anand Vihar

Food carts of diversity. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Borders tend to be formal, edgy places, which one is always a bit nervous to cross. So it’s a surprise to find such a cheery, festive place in the…

Mission Delhi - Laali, Lodhi Road

One of the one percent in 13 million. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Now she’s here, now she’s there — she’s just everywhere. Laali, 4, is all restlessness. She’s unable to stay on one spot for more than…

Delhi's Bandaged Heart - Ghalib's Coronavirus, Ghalib Academy

Poetry in the city. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] What if Mirza Ghalib were alive today? How would Delhi’s great shayar (poet) have coped with the pandemic, and the consequent khud alhaidgi (self-isolation in Urdu!)? What ghazals and…

City Hangout - Train Spotting, The Bridge Upon the New Delhi Railway Station

The pandemic-era thrill of travel. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Some trains are moving. Some trains are still. A few passengers here and there, walking with their suitcases and kids. And suddenly, a rail engine whistles. The sounds…

City Monument - Hijron ka Khanqah, Mehrauli

The retreat. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] A word like ‘freedom’ acquires its true meaning only to those denied it. And so do words like “quarantine’ and ‘self-isolation’, gradually getting more real to us as we experience either…