City Reading – The Delhi Proustians – I, Indian Coffee House
A la recherche du temps perdu.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
For a long time I would try to sit down with In Search of Lost Time, a seven-volume novel by the French writer Marcel Proust. In my most successful attempt, I managed to finish the first two volumes – Swann’s Way and Within a Budding Grove. Some parts were comical, some had the lightness of a gossipy tabloid, and some were excruciatingly descriptive.
Although I did not pick the third volume that time, Marcel Proust’s novel made me feel closer to the world.
His easy conversational language showed me how we are shaped by many illusions borne out of love and jealousy, architecture and music, painting and literature, food and nature. He underlines the bonds that tie us to our parents, friends, and lovers.
Today is the first meeting of The Delhi Proustians, a club for Delhiwallas wanting to discuss Marcel Proust. Every Sunday noon we have to read In Search of Lost Time for an hour.
It is 12.12 pm and I’m alone at the table.
Swann’s Way starts with:
For a long time I would go to bed early. Sometimes, the candle barely out, my eyes closed so quietly that I did not have time to tell myself: “I’m falling asleep.” And half an hour later…
Nearly half past 12. It is like beginning a long train journey, and desperately wishing for fellow passengers to fill this empty coach. Two people are walking towards my direction. I quickly turn towards the novel, pretending to read, while intently listening to their footsteps; they come nearer, and then die away. The young woman and her friend are claiming a table on the opposite corner.
I must read alone.
In search of lost time
[Author photos by Brij Nandan Kumar Yadav]