Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Mayank Austen Soofi, Fresc Co
The Proustian self-introspection.
[By The Delhi Proustians]
The Proust Questionnaire represents a form of interview that owes its structure to answers given by French novelist Marcel Proust, the author of In Search of Lost Time, at two birthday parties that he attended at ages 13 and 20 in the late 19th century.
In 2013, The Delhi Proustians takes Les confidences de salon (Drawing room confessions) around the city to explore people’s lives, thoughts, values and experiences. This series would involve interviews across Delhi and will be conducted by Manika Dhama and Mayank Austen Soofi.
Dhama is an investment consultant with a real estate firm. She lives in NOIDA, works in Gurgaon and reads/writes in between. Her poem featured in ‘Delhi’s Bandaged Moments’ and she runs the blog Framed by Wanderlust.
Soofi is a writer on Delhi. He runs the website The Delhi Walla and has published four guidebooks on the city. His fifth book is Nobody Can Love You More: Life in Delhi’s Red Light District. He lives in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti.
For the first instalment in the series Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire, Mayank Austen Soofi made confessions to Manika Dhama while having dinner in Fresc Co, a Mediterranean restaurant in Janpath.
Your favorite virtue or the principal aspect of your personality
Ability to absorb books that demand immersed attention
Your favorite qualities in a man
Your favorite qualities in a woman
Your chief characteristic
Complicated relationship with truth
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Sophisticated taste in books
Your main fault
Incapable of raising my voice
Your favourite occupation
Walking with my camera
Your idea of happiness
‘Boating’ in Nainital lake
Your idea of misery or what would be your greatest misfortune?
A married life with a traditional Indian woman
If not yourself, who would you be?
A war-time edition of Sense and Sensibility
Where would you like to live?
Your favourite colour and flower
Yellow and Amaltas
Your favourite bird
I don’t know about birds
Your favourite prose authors
Arundhati Roy, Marcel Proust, Jane Austen, Alex Ross
Your favorite poets
Cavafy, Akhmatova, Rilke, Homer
Your favorite heroes in fiction
Biswambhar Roy in the movie Jalsaghar, Price Andrei Bolkonsky, George Wickham
Your favorite heroines in fiction
Proust’s Mme Verdurin and Françoise, Arundhati Roy’s Ammu, the Lucknow courtesan Umrao Jan Ada, Violet Stoneham in the movie 36 Chowringhee Lane. Also, Shakespeare’s Cleopatra
Your favorite composers
Chopin, Vinteuil and Bach
Your favorite painters
Van Gogh, Vermeer, Monet
Your heroes/heroines in real life
Golda Meir, Gustave Flaubert, Ahmad Shah Massoud
What characters in history do you most dislike?
Your heroines in World history
Your favorite food and drink
Cucumber Sandwich and Darjeeling Tea
Your favorite names
Durga, David (when pronounced as Daveed), Andre
What do you hate the most?
Last names of upper caste Hindus
The military event you admire the most
The Long March in China
The reform you admire the most
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with
Ability to whistle
How do you wish to die?
Like Virginia Woolf
What is your present state of mind?
Slight nervousness that the interviewer is getting bored
Faults for which you have the most tolerance
Your motto in life
To look for poetry in a seemingly ordinary world
Next: Manika Dhama responds to Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire, conducted by Mayank Austen Soofi.
Diving deep within, like Marcel