City Landmark – Scholar’s Cubicle, India International Centre
The hideout of the intellectuals.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
How is it like to be an India International Centre scholar?
One evening, The Delhi Walla enters the IIC scholar’s sanctum sanctorum — it’s the heart of the centre’s library consisting of the famed scholar cells. These are six cubicles where members can shut themselves in and work undisturbed. If they get one, that is. There is apparently a long waiting list to gain admission into the cubicle — sometimes the wait can be as long as a year.
I’m not a member but have been granted permission by the kind chief librarian, S Majumdar, to briefly enter a cubicle. Its current occupant isn’t around at the moment. The wood-paneled room has a table, a chair and a lamp. The single window looks into a garden. Total silence inside the cell, so much so that one can clearly hear their own heartbeat.
Just imagining the cubicle’s intellectual occupant working diligently on this desk is awe inspiring.
In the hushed library outside, illustrious-looking academics are pouring over hefty tomes. Some faces somehow seem recognizable. Maybe I’ve seen them on TV? That frail man is surely Jagmohan who was once the Jammu & Kashmir governor. His attendant is standing beside him like a statue. Other members appear so motionless I’m not certain whether they’re reading or nodding off.
Back in the cubicle, my eyes rests on a leather-bound volume on the table. Must be some dense difficult book. But no, it is an… Agatha Christie omnibus! It turns out that the cubicle scholar is reading a Ms Marple mystery. Suddenly the place starts to feel more welcoming.
The world of IIC scholars