Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Bookseller Ajay Jain, Ansari Road
The parlour confession.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
Does he himself read such heavy-duty books? Ajay Jain deals in scholarly books on Indian history and politics. His shop—Manohar Publishers & Distributors—is frequented by scholars from India and abroad. In his 50s, the Gurugram-born started working full-time with father, bookstore founder Ramesh Chandra Jain, at an early age of 19. He daily commutes to his shop in Delhi’s Ansari Road from his home in Gurugram’s Sector 24. This afternoon, despite being super-busy at work, he agrees to be a part of the Proust Questionnaire series in which folks are nudged to make “Parisian parlour confessions”, all to explore citizens’ distinct experiences.
Your favourite virtue or the principal aspect of your personality
Straight forwardness, loyalty, focused.
Your favourite qualities in a man
Sense of humour, kindness, intelligent, warmth.
Your favourite qualities in a woman
Your chief characteristic
Straight forwardness. It gets me into trouble sometimes.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Loyalty, transparency, sense of humour.
Your main fault
Your favorite occupation
Selling books, and travelling to rural places in Europe such as the serene Black Forest in Germany.
Your idea of happiness
Lost in the world of books/travelling.
Your idea of misery or what would be your greatest misfortune?
Losing loved ones.
If not yourself, who would you be?
I would always like to be myself.
Where would you like to live?
Where I reside right now, at Garden Estate in Gurugram, or in the mountains, or in Holland, the country I visited on my first visit to Europe in 1991.
Your favourite colour and flower
Your favorite bird
Your favorite prose authors
I usually don’t read books in their entirety, but browse through portions that interests me. Currently reading books on pyramids, kohinoor and Maharaja Ranjit Singh respectively.
Your favorite poets
I hate poetry, but I do like Ghalib for I’m very romantic at heart.
Your favorite heroes in fiction
Different ones at different stages of my life.
Your heroes/heroines in real life
Those who keep on fighting in life against all odds.
What characters in history do you most dislike?
Those who massacred others for their own gains.
Your heroes in World history
King Ashoka, Bhagat Singh and others like him who contributed to India’s freedom.
Your favorite food and drink
Rajma chawal, thandai and paani.
Your favorite names
Tapas, Ananaya. These also happen to be the names of my children.
What do you hate the most?
The military event you admire the most
Hitting the enemy where it hurts the most. Like the surgical strikes against Pakistan in 2016.
The reform you admire the most
The transition from fossil fuel to clean energy.
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with
How do you wish to die?
Either while at work, or while sleeping.
Faults for which you have the most tolerance?
Your motto in life
Never give up.
Bookseller’s inner tastes