The Delhi coffee table.
[Text and photos of photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
In order to feel the intimate life of Delhiites, The Delhi Walla is going from house to house, requesting people to show their family photos. Here is the fifth installment. This album belongs to Ronald Vivian Smith, who lives in Mayapuri, west Delhi.
Until a few decades ago, author Mr Smith was in the habit of daily walking across the streets of Old Delhi in search of stories about people and places. An identity card issued to him as a journalist by his employers in 1978 announced to whoever it might concern: “Mr R.V. Smith is employed by The Statesman Ltd., as Sub-Editor and his work involves attendance at night.”
Today, Mr Smith rarely steps outside his second-floor flat that he shares with his wife and four children. In his late 70s, the author, known for his writings on Delhi, spends most of his time in his drawing room, which is filled with several copies of his half a dozen books and with hundreds of his yellowing newspaper articles.
One evening Mr Smith showed me his family album. The photographs were mixed up with old letters and the whole bundle was stuffed inside a dusty drawer.
Mr Smith had something to say for each picture. Holding a small black and white photograph, he said, “This little girl is now 88.” Taking out another picture, he said, “This man was the Archbishop of Agra. We were waiting for the train to Bombay where we were going to attend a conference of Anglo-Indians. He is dead now.” Coming across a photograph that showed him holding a large box, he said, “It was my farewell party at the Statesman’s office when I was retiring in December 1996. They had gifted me an electric heater.”
There was also a photograph of the Statesman‘s newsroom.
One framed photograph occupied a place of pride in the drawing room. It showed Mr Smith posing with his brand-new Master of Arts degree in 1962.
The past is present
1. (Ronald Vivian Smith)