Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire - Deepak Dialani, Paharganj

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Deepak Dialani, Paharganj

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire - Deepak Dialani, Paharganj

Into a bookseller’s soul.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Delhi’s backpackers’ district of Paharganj had many bookstores, each crammed with hundreds of used books. Many of those well-thumbed paperbacks would bear origins of exotic lands, often left by international travellers passing through Paharganj on way to Manali, Pushkar or Goa. All the shops are now history except for one. Jacksons Books is the only place in the capital to have a rich selection of books in French, German, Japanese, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, alongside English and Hindi. Deepak Dialani, who founded the shop in 1996, 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.

Your favourite qualities in a person.
Anybody who is polite, wise and pure of heart—like my muhboli sister Sangeeta Gupta. I also like people to be devoted to their family. Just as I am to wife Neena and daughter Irshita.

Your idea of happiness.
Watching cricket in a cricket stadium.

Where would you like to live?
Any crowded mohalla with good neighbours and many people to talk to.

Your favourite prose authors.
Crime fiction writer Surender Mohan Pathak is my no. 1 novelist. Ved Prakash Sharma is also good. Datt Bharti used to write samajik novels, and lived nearby, in Gole Market.

Your favourite poets.
Kumar Vishwas, Munawwar Rana, Imran Pratapgarhi, Rahat indori, Shailesh Lodha and Samapt Saral.

Your favourite heroes in fiction.
Vimal Kumar Khanna, a character in Surender Mohan Pathak novels. He has negative shades… but then he was a victim of time and circumstances.

Your heroes/heroines in real life
My sister Sundri and my brother Ashwani raised me after our father died. I was then 10.

Your favourite names.
Any name starting with letter ‘D,’ like mine! I also like names starting with ‘S,’ because this was the alphabet that Khera sir, my English language teacher in the school, would ask us to write repeatedly to improve our handwriting.

Faults for which you have the most tolerance.
Customers’ misbehaviour. Once a foreign tourist punched me on the face and my nose started to bleed. I was refusing to give him his desired discount. I forgave him.