The memorable instant.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Book Shop in Delhi’s Jor Bagh Market does not keep copies of The New York Times (no bookshop in this city does) but you may frequently spot The Times‘s South Asia bureau chief here. Ellen Barry is a regular. She spends all her money in this shop, mostly on Saturday mornings (you may fact check this personally with her).
One rainy evening, while the store owner Nini KD Singh is sitting behind the counter and the new shop assistant, the poetically-minded Mahika Chaturvedi, is on a wicker chair, The Delhi Walla spots Ms Barry standing in front of the History shelf.
A Jor Bagh dweller, Ms Barry is hanging around with her daughters–Alice Wilson, who was recently given her own e-mail id, and June Wilson, who does not easily allow herself to be photographed.
The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, who earlier reported for The Times in Moscow, is so fond of Jor Bagh Market that she is helping her daughters learn the names of all the shops—thank God the sleepy bazaar only has a dozen stores and thank God the shops have easy-to-remember names such as A-one Store, Kim Brothers and Steak House.
The foreign correspondent ends the browsing expedition with three books: One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan, Angelina and the New Baby by Katharine Holabird and The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis. Striking up a brief conversation with a customer, Ms Barry passionately recommends Edward St Aubyn’s The Patrick Melrose trilogy. “You will like it,” she says, lauding the novels’ well-depicted upper-class misery.
Then she is gone, along with the Wilson girls. A brown dog is sitting alone outside the door. It is suddenly a very quiet moment.
1. (from left: June Wilson, Ellen Barry, Alice Wilson)