Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Sociology Professor Kiranmayi Bhushi, Asian Games Village
The parlour confession.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Proust Questionnaire represents a confessional game that owes its structure to answers given by celebrated French writer Marcel Proust in two parties that he attended at ages 13 and 20 in the late 19th century.
The Delhi Walla have brought these Parisian parlour confessions into the Indian capital to explore people’s lives, thoughts, values and experiences. The series interview folks from diverse backgrounds.
So today, say hello to Kiranmayi Bhushi. An associate professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences, IGNOU, Ms Bhushi shares her book-lined apartment in south Delhi’s Asian Games Village with at least one stray cat. Author of the book Farm to Fingers: The Culture and Politics of Food in Contemporary India, she is well known for rustling out delicious dinners on a swift notice. In fact, she used to co-run an iconic restaurant called Gunpowder in Hauz Khas Village until some years back. She is in her 50s.
Your favourite virtue or the principal aspect of your personality
I don’t know whether it is virtue but an aspect of my personality is to use all my senses—as navigator tools—in search of beauty
Your favourite qualities in a man
Your favourite qualities in a woman
Your chief characteristic
Lust for life
What you appreciate most in friends?
Sincerity and warmth
Your main fault
Indulgence… the senses again come into play
Your favourite occupation
May be an architect
Your idea of happiness
Sunny blue skies
Your idea of misery?
No trees, no blue skies, no creatures of the wild… that to me is apocalyptic
If not yourself, who would you be?
A flamenco dancer or blues singer
Where would you like to live?
Not any one place but may be two three places—the Himalayas, Andalusia, San Francisco. But then again, this might change
Your favourite colour and flower
All shades of blue; Corn flower, Poppy, Lotus and Jasmine (I cannot settle for one)
Your favourite bird
The owl is magical, and is supposed to have extraordinary abilities… like it can turn its head 360 degrees, and has eyes that can hold you hypnotised for long. My fascination with this creature started with silent late night conversations between us—the owl outside my bedroom window and me inside
Your favourite prose authors
Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Milan Kundera, Haruki Murakami, Richard Wright, Jean-Paul Sartre, Hermann Hesse
Your favourite poets
Pablo Neruda, AK Ramanujan, TS Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Rumi, Kabir
Your favourite heroes in fiction
Hamlet, Atticus Finch, Huckleberry Finn, Oskar Matzerath, Sherlock Homes, Peter Pan, Bertie Wooster, Karna
Your favourite heroines in fiction
George (the boyish girl from Famous five) Scout Finch (if she can be counted as heroine), Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre
Your favourite composers
Bach, Beethoven and Tyagaraja
Your favourite painters
Tyeb Mehta, Zarina Hashmi, Van Gogh, Monet, Dali, Hieronymus Bosch
Your heroes/heroines in real life
My father Ramadass, the very fashionable gardener-scholar-singer and, above all, a mean teaser of kids. And Parvati—the garden angel, animal lover and the caretaker of my farm in the Himalayas
Who from history do you most dislike?
Your heroines in world history
Savitribai Phule, Marie Curie, Rosa Parks
Your favourite food and drink
Eggs; Coconut water
Your favourite names
What do you hate the most?
Duplicity and hypocrisy
The military event you admire the most
I don’t admire any military event, but if any at all, then it would be the Munda Rebellion—‘Ulgulan’
The reform you admire the most
They would be constitutional reforms such as various acts and legislations for protective discrimination and land reforms
A talent you’d like to be gifted with
How do you wish to die?
To recline under a tree on a balmy day, a blue sky above, Rumi’s verse by my side and quietly breathe my last
What is your present state of mind?
Swinging between hope and despair
Faults for which you have the most tolerance
Depends from situation to situation and changes from person to person
Your motto in life
Don’t have one. But if I were to have one it would be that compassion and kindness is all it takes to make the world a better place
Into the citizen’s heart