Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Zahid Ali Khan, Somewhere in Delhi
The parlour confession.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
He joined the All India Radio as an Urdu news reader in March, 1965. He retired in April, 1999. He hasn’t retired from hyperactive life. At 86, he flits around the city everyday on his own, meeting friends, and attending literary meets. The venerable Zahid Ali Khan agrees to become a part of my Proust Questionnaire series in which citizens are nudged to make “Parisian parlour confessions”, all to explore our distinct experiences.
The principal aspect of your personality.
Reading and writing. I have written 12 books, both poetry and prose.
Your favorite qualities in a man.
His akhlaq, eitquees, should be pleasing and acceptable to the society. He should not have negative approach to life.
Your favorite qualities in a woman.
Same as man. After all, both men and women are equal.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Dost hota nahin har haath milane wale (not everyone who shakes your hand is a friend). Anybody sharing some commonality with me, and who reaches my heart.
Your favorite occupation.
I love travelling, especially to Kashmir and Goa.
Your idea of happiness.
When I’m in a beautiful garden.
What would be your greatest misfortune?
If I’m unable to travel.
If not yourself, who would you be?
Persian literature professor.
Your favorite prose authors.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Ale Ahmad Suroor, Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqui.
Your favorite poets.
Hạsrat Mūhānī, Shamim Karhani—he was also my teacher, Jigar Moradabadi, Kaif Bhopali, Jan Nisar Akhtar.
Your favourite colour and flower.
Light shades of any colour. Gulab.
Your favorite bird.
Your heroes/heroines in real life.
I’ll reply with a Persian verse by Iranian poet Iraj Mirza.
“Har kera rooye khush wah khuye nikost,
Murda-o-zindyeman aashiq oost.
(Whosoever has a attractive face and good nature,
I will love them whether I’m dead or alive.)
Your favorite food and drink.
Any dal with desi ghee. Paani.
Your favorite names.
Meenakshi, Khushboo, Najuk, Khushdil, Danishmandz.
What is your present state of mind?
I’m thinking of a poem that I might soon start to compose.