Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Mehreen Shah, H Nizamuddin West
The parlour confession.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
Her “mom,” her “bhayya,” her sister-in-law—they all are offering evening namaz. While Mehreen Shah is reading a Salman Rushdie novel. Ensconced in her room at their Hazrat Nizamuddin West house, Mehreen, a street flâneur and a master’s student in Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University, agrees to become a part of the Proust Questionnaire series in which citizens are nudged to make “Parisian parlour confessions”, all to explore our distinct experiences.
Your favorite virtue.
Your favorite qualities in a man.
His protectiveness, his silent endurance, his amorous pursuits of a singular woman.
Your favorite qualities in a woman.
Her empathy, nurturing nature and patience.
Your main fault.
My moods swinging in a cyclical regularity.
Your favorite occupation.
Your idea of happiness.
To conceive never-ending ideas in silence, uninterrupted from any background noise.
Your idea of misery?
To be rich and successful in ways that are ordained by others, which betray my own dreams.
If not yourself, who would you be?
A lone man answerable to no one.
Where would you like to live?
Anywhere near a mountain and a library.
Your favourite colour and flower
Black and lavender.
Your favorite bird
Crow because of its human-like dexterity.
Your favorite heroes in fiction.
Winston Smith from 1984, Jay Gatsby, David from Giovanni’s Room.
Your favorite heroines in fiction.
Lizzie Bennet, Sonya from Crime and Punishment, Ammu from The God of Small Things.
Your favorite composers
Thom Yorke, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen.
Your heroes/heroines in real life
All single working women, including my mother.
Your favorite names
Aliya, Safoora, Rumi.
What do you hate the most?
People who act as gatekeepers of religion by excluding seekers with unconventional moral beliefs.
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with.
How do you wish to die?
In the state of dreaming. To brigde the chasm between life and death.
Faults for which you have the most tolerance
Lying about one’s private beliefs.
Your motto in life
To grasp the fleeting beauty of ordinary things in everyday life.