Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Anant Kumar, Sunday Book Bazar
The parlour confession.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the greatest place to shop for all kinds of books in the entire Delhi region is at the Sunday Book Market. For decades the bazar unfolded every week on the pavements of Daryaganj. It lately moved to Mahila Haat, nearby. That’s not the only profound change the bazar has undergone. Some familiar booksellers are gone, some new sellers have surfaced. Thankfully, the meetha-voiced bookseller Anant Kumar has been a constant for 25 years. This unbearably hot Sunday afternoon, sitting by a great heap of books (“50 rupees, pick any”), he agreed to be a part of our Proust Questionnaire series in which citizens are nudged to make “Parisian parlour confessions”, all to explore our distinct experiences.
Your favorite virtue.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
When their thoughts and ideas match mine.
Your idea of happiness.
Pooja-paath. Especially while praying to Bajrang Bali. Due to my disabled legs and arms, I cannot visit holy sites.
Your idea of misery.
My condition is such that I don’t have easy mobility. I dread any health energency, for it would be very tough for me to quickly reach the hospital.
Where would you like to live?
My village—Para Para in Azamgarh. It takes 16 hours to reach Azamgarh by Kaifiat Express, and then one and a half hours more by bus to the village.
Your favorite bird.
Gaurayya, I install small wooden boxes for them at my house in jumna-paar, filling them with grains.
Your hero in real life.
Asharfi Lal, my elder brother. Books are his business, too.
Your favorite food and drink
Saada bhojan (plain food), and Pepsi.
Your favorite names.
Aryan, my nephew’s son, Anoop… actually any name that starts with A, because my name too starts with A.
What do you hate the most?
People badmouthing about others to me. If you don’t like something about somebody, shouldn’t you talk it out aamne-saamne with that person?
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with.
That my arms and legs were like any other person’s, and I didn’t have to be dependent on others.
What is your present state of mind?
It’s very hot. But I have to wait for two more hours before I can wind down the stall and go home.
Faults for which you have the most tolerance.
If a person angrily raises his voice to explain something to me.
Your motto in life.
I’m not married. I don’t have my own family. So I aim to live in harmony with my relatives.