Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Naeem Khan, Pahari Imli
The parlour confession.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The hilly Pahari Imli gets its name from a tamarind tree that no longer exists. But Naeem Khan’s tailoring establishment serves as an idyllic substitute for that extinct imli ka ped. It is nestled at a perfect vantage point in the Old Delhi neighbourhood, giving a clear view of who is walking up the hill, who is walking down the hill (see photo: tea man Iqbal walking down the hill). Laughters and shouts from the surrounding windows echo. Passers-by stop to share gossip about the Pahari Imli society, as they might have done under that legendary Imli tree if it were still standing today. Naeem Khan agrees to become a part of our 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.
Each time I see an elderly person or a woman walking up the hill with a heavy bag, I instantly give up whatever I’m doing in my shop and help them carry it to their home.
Your favorite qualities in a person.
Exuding restraint, maryada and good manners.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
The ability to not give me tensions. Keeping me away from bad habits.
Your main fault.
My heart is very raw, it gets wounded easily. So I get angry very quickly.
Your favorite occupation.
What I do daily in my shop—the alteration of jeans. It helps me support my family. At one point in my life I used to love acting in the theater.
Your idea of happiness.
When I go to Faridabad to meet my sister, Muskan, and her children Nazma and Sameer.
If not yourself, who would you be?
Where would you like to live?
Your favorite bird.
I had a mynah, one day she flew away.
Your favorite food and drink.
Akki’s chicken biryani; any cola drink.
What do you hate the most?
Being lied to.
The talent you’d like to be gifted with.
The talent of a hakeem, enabling me to heal people and myself of illnesses and injuries.
What is your present state of mind?
Thinking about alteration of my customer Arif Khan’s jeans.
Faults for which you have the most tolerance.
Your motto in life.
Be an early riser.