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Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Ranjana Sengupta, India International Centre

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 early 2013, The Delhi Proustians started taking Les confidences de salon (Drawing room confessions) around the city to explore people’s lives, thoughts, values and experiences. The series involves interviews across Delhi and is conducted by writers Manika Dhama and Mayank Austen Soofi.

For the seventeenth installment of Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire, Ranjana Sengupta, author of Delhi Metropolitan: The Making of an Unlikely City, made confessions to Mayank in the lawns of India International Centre.

Your favorite virtue or the principal aspect of your personality

Favourite virtue is tolerance; principal aspect too is tolerance, hopefully

Your favorite qualities in a man

Intelligence, humour, honesty

Your favorite qualities in a woman

Intelligence, humour, honesty

Your chief characteristic

Hard to say

What do you appreciate the most in your friends?

Understanding, loyalty

Your main fault

It varies, but I’d say basically an inability to believe in certainties

Your favorite occupation


Your idea of happiness

Being with family, friends; travelling. Ideally, both

Your idea of misery or what would be your greatest misfortune?

Isolation, boredom

If not yourself, who would you be?

I’ll stick to being me

Where would you like to live?


Your favourite colour and flower

Blue. Narcissus

Your favorite bird


Your favorite prose authors

Amitav Ghosh, Alain de Botton, Sheila Dhar, Patrick Leigh Fermor, Jawaharlal Nehru

Your favorite poets

Ted Hughes, Siegfried Sasson, Vikram Seth, TS Eliot

Your favorite heroes in fiction

Salim Sinai, Will Ladislaw, Captain Haddock

Your favorite heroines in fiction

Anne Eliot, Charulata

Your favorite composers

Johann Sebastian Bach, AR Rahman

Your favorite painters

Vermeer, Shamshad Husain, Bill Lowry

Your heroes/heroines in real life

Dara Shikoh, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

What characters in history do you most dislike?

Too many to call

Your heroines in World history

Too many to call

Your favorite food and drink

Bread and Butter Pudding. White wine

Your favorite names

Pallavi and Antara

What do you hate the most?


The military event you admire the most


The reform you admire the most


The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with

To be able to paint well

How do you wish to die?


What is your present state of mind?


Faults for which you have the most tolerance


Your motto in life

Don’t have one