Mission Delhi - Laali, Lodhi Road

Mission Delhi – Laali, Lodhi Road

One of the one percent in 13 million. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Now she’s here, now she’s there — she’s just everywhere. Laali, 4, is all restlessness. She’s unable to stay on one spot for more than…

Delhi's Bandaged Heart - Ghalib's Coronavirus, Ghalib Academy

Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Ghalib’s Coronavirus, Ghalib Academy

Poetry in the city. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] What if Mirza Ghalib were alive today? How would Delhi’s great shayar (poet) have coped with the pandemic, and the consequent khud alhaidgi (self-isolation in Urdu!)? What ghazals and…

City Hangout - Train Spotting, The Bridge Upon the New Delhi Railway Station

City Hangout – Train Spotting, The Bridge Upon the New Delhi Railway Station

The pandemic-era thrill of travel. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Some trains are moving. Some trains are still. A few passengers here and there, walking with their suitcases and kids. And suddenly, a rail engine whistles. The sounds…

City Monument - Hijron ka Khanqah, Mehrauli

City Monument – Hijron ka Khanqah, Mehrauli

The retreat. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] A word like ‘freedom’ acquires its true meaning only to those denied it. And so do words like “quarantine’ and ‘self-isolation’, gradually getting more real to us as we experience either…

Mission Delhi - Premchand, Kamla Market

Mission Delhi – Premchand, Kamla Market

One of the one percent in 13 million. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] The life of this betel leaf stall owner is marked by two special facets. First, his modest (but long-time) stall is situated directly beneath the…

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Arjun Sagar Gupta, Vasant Vihar

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Arjun Sagar Gupta, Vasant Vihar

The parlour confession. [Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi] His bedroom’s Yamaha Electone is clamouring for attention, even on Zoom. The statelier Steinway is in the drawing room, out of sight. An accomplished pianist, the enterprising Arjun Sagar Gupta,…

City Obituary - Suhana Begum, Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti

City Obituary – Suhana Begum, Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti

Life of a woman. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Her arms were covered with bangles, her ears decked with shiny stones, and stones were adorning her fingers too. She could be heard approaching from a distance, because of…

Mission Delhi - Azim Jawed, Matia Mahal

Mission Delhi – Azim Jawed, Matia Mahal

One of the one percent in 13 million. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] It’s cold, and he’s away from home. At night he misses his parents. Azim Jawed is a winter migrant from Kashmir. Like scores of Kashmiri…

Mission Delhi - Pratikansh, Paharganj and Surroundings

Mission Delhi – Pratikansh, Paharganj and Surroundings

One of the one percent in 13 million. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] The black sky’s hazy moon is easily visible through the cold smoggy air. Perhaps because of the absence of street lighting. A few folks are…

Delhi's Bandaged Heart - On January 1, a Poem on Departure and New Beginnings, Gurgaon

Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – On January 1, a Poem on Departure and New Beginnings, Gurgaon

Poetry in the city. [By Mayank Austen Soofi] On a cold evening, with Christmassy lights hanging from buildings, Florian Morin is standing by a footbridge in Gurgaon in the Greater Delhi Region. “I like walking around,” he says. “In 2020,…