Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Muhammad Dawood, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s Dargah
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 involves interviews across Delhi and is conducted by writers Manika Dhama and Mayank Austen Soofi.
For the tenth instalment in the series Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire, Muhammad Dawood made confessions to Mayank in the dargah of Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, where Mr Dawood seeks alms from pilgrims.
Your favorite virtue or the principal aspect of your personality
I look after my family very well. I take excellent care of my mother, sister and my grandmother. Though my wife Salma left me two months ago
Your favorite qualities in a man
He should have a regular job and he should respect the elderly
Your favorite qualities in a woman
She should obey her husband
Your chief characteristic
I always pray for people’s happiness. Everyday I see pilgrims coming to the dargah, each of them filled with their own grief. I ask Hazrat Nizamuddin baba to fulfill all their wishes
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
When they go out with me to Jama Masjid or the zoo
Your main fault
I get angry very quickly
Your favorite occupation
Doing errands for friends
Your idea of happiness
Being with my family
Your idea of misery or what would be your greatest misfortune?
Something terrible happening to me because of which my family is left stranded
If not yourself, who would you be?
A police constable
Where would you like to live?
Here, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya baba’s dargah.
Your favourite colour and flower
Black, pink rose
Your favorite bird
Your favorite prose authors
I cannot read
Your favorite poets
Your favorite heroes in fiction
Anil Kapoor’s character in the film Mr India
Your favorite heroines in fiction
Your favorite composers
Your favorite painters
Your heroes/heroines in real life
Qasim Nizami; he is a khadim in the dargah and is also a local politician. He always helps people in distress
What characters in history do you most dislike?
My father. He was very selfish and never bothered about us. He died in 2010
Your heroines in World history
Your favorite food and drink
Chicken biryani and pomegranate juice
Your favorite names
Muskan, Saba, Rihana, Salma
What do you hate the most?
The military event you admire the most
The reform you admire the most
The layering of new marble tiles on the dargah’s floor early this year. It has become more comfortable for pilgrims to walk in the courtyard
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with
The ability to walk. My legs are useless
How do you wish to die?
What is your present state of mind?
I’m thinking of going home
Faults for which you have the most tolerance
People’s tendency to make fun of my legs
Your motto in life
To live honestly
Diving deep within, like Marcel