City Reading – The Delhi Proustians XXXI, Nicholson Road
A la recherche du temps perdu.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Today is the 31st meeting of The Delhi Proustians, a club for Delhiwallas that discusses French novelist Marcel Proust. Every Monday evening for an hour we read his masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time, a multi-volume novel sometimes also known as Remembrance of Things Past.
Each week we meet in a new venue to dive into the atmosphere of Marcel’s novel.
It is 7 pm and The Delhi Walla is at the Nicholson Road in Kashmere Gate. Named after an Irish army officer in the British East India Company, the bleak-looking street borders the remnants of the Walled City’s wall. I have come here to read Proust and to dwell on Delhi’s past but I’m unable to do so.
My new book is to come out of Penguin India’s printing press within a week or two. Focused on life in Delhi’s red light district, Nobody Can Love You More is an effort of more than four years.
Now I no longer want it to be printed. I don’t wish it to be read by others. It should have remained anonymous.
I turn to the dedication page of The Guermantes Way, Marcel’s third volume.
du VOYAGE DE SHAKESPEARE,
du PARTAGE DE L’ENFANT,
de L’ASTRE NOIR,
de FANTOMES ET VIVANTS,
du MONDE DES IMAGES,
de tant de chefs-d’oeuvre,
A l’incomparable, ami
de reconnaissance et d’admiration
As always, I will continue seeing Delhi and its people… write a new book… only on completing Proust.
This time I will not enter into a contract with any publisher. As with Nobody Can Love You More, I will think, write, think, re-write, think and re-re-write. A few years will pass. I will get the finished work printed from an Old Delhi printing press, one of those one-man establishments seen in Galli Chooriwallan. There will not be many copies.
This book will neither have a price, nor an ISBN number. It will not be available on amazon.com. It will not be found in Khan Market’s bookstores.
I will wrap each copy in white chiffon and gift them to a handful of people who love me.
I will then re-start the Proust project, again, from the first volume to the last.
Sorry, in our next meeting, we will try to concentrate on Lost Time.
The 32nd meeting of The Delhi Proustians takes place on 12 November 2012.
Where Balcony Waiting Lounge, Delite Cinema, Asaf Ali Road Time 7 pm Nearest Metro Station New Delhi railway station
Brown Man’s Burden (Photo by Manika Dhama in Connaught Place)