Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire - Arif Ali, Central Delhi

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Arif Ali, Central Delhi

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire - Arif Ali, Central Delhi

Into a newsstand person’s soul.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

If not busy mending torn clothes, he might be sighted playing ludo with friends (see photo) on his shop counter in Old Delhi’s Bulbuli Khana. A Farash Khana dweller, the venerable Arif Ali is a “rafu master,” that disappearing breed of neighbourhood tailors who specialise in the art of darning. This slow-moving humid afternoon, he 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 favorite qualities in a person.
Making necessary sacrifices to ensure good education for the children.

What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
He should agree with whatever I say.

Your main fault.
Smoking. Earlier I used to chain-smoke cigarettes, but they are expensive, and the kharcha was affecting the household. I also needed to put aside money for the education of my children. So I shifted to the cheaper beedi.

Your favourite occupation.
Decorating the house, like unrolling a new carpet, or installing a set of new curtains.

Your idea of happiness.
When children have enough money with them, and they don’t feel the lack of it. I have three sons, two daughters. Two of my sons run a burger outlet each.

If not yourself, who would you be?
Carrom board champion.

Where would you like to live?
Green Park, or Malviya Nagar, or maybe some such neighbourhood in south Delhi. I have spent all my life in Old Delhi, but it has become unliveable over the years. I want to be in a peaceful place, where the lanes are clean and orderly.

Your favorite bird.
Tota.

Your favorite names.
Muhammed Rafi, Lata:—these are my beloved singers so I love their names as well.

What is your present state of mind?
I’m thinking of my chai getting cold.

Faults for which you have the most tolerance.
When people owe me money and they don’t return it, and then they die.

Your motto in life.
Attending to the shop daily from das se das (10am to 10pm).