Celebrating Pride & Prejudice.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Such a delightful day. On January 29 1813, Jane Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra to tell her the good news that Pride and Prejudice had been published. The Delhi Walla is celebrating the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Readers, I have a dream.
What if one of us starts a Jane Austen Club Society in Delhi?
It is such happiness when good people get together — and they always should. Everyone — young and not-so-young, straight and not-so-straight, single and not-so-single — should be invited to join the Jane Austen Society Club. The only condition being that you must have read all six of Ms Austen’s novels at least six times each.
Each Sunday evening, after completing their purchases in Daryaganj’s Sunday Book Bazaar, Jane Austen admirers will gather in front of Urdu Bazaar and sit on the Jama Masjid stairs.
Over doodh-waali chai and biskut, we will read excerpts from dear Jane’s novels. Firangi backpackers from the unsanitary bowels of Paharganj will be invited to share how Delhi belly keeps them “in a continual state of inelegance”, while residents of West Delhi will be provided an opportunity to complain of snobbish South Delhi’s myopic belief that their Delhi is the only Delhi (ah, “one half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other”).
The Society will also be a platform for the romantics to share their delights and disappointments. After all, whether you are from Vasant Kunj or Vikas Puri, you must like “to be crossed in love a little now and then.”
The society, as is certain, will “certainly be the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.”
Who will deny that an Austen admirer in possession of some spare time must be in want of lace and needles, in addition to some harmless gossip concerning the neighbor’s younger daughter? Delhi, fortunately, has no dearth of some elegant tailors. The Jane Austen Society will host an eminent fashion designer, a new one each week, who will tell us how to stitch petticoats. Learning to make lehengas, achkans, and sherwanis will require extra fee.
The society will conduct walking tours in the city where you may pretend as if you are strolling the verdant grounds of England, and not the smoggy lanes of Delhi. You can also hop by landmarks like Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib’s haveli in Ballimaran and recite his verses as passionately as Marianne Dashwood recited Shakespeare’s in Sense and Sensibility.
At the end of each meet, the members will, of course, be given a few minutes to speculate on the next day’s weather.
The world of Jane Austen… in Delhi