City Landmark – Arundhati Roy’s Hotel, Cochin

The hotel of The God of Small Things. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] “Room numbers 313 and 327,” The man at the reception desk said. “Non-air-conditioned. Twin beds. Lift is closed for repair.” This is not true. Lift is operational and there are no rooms with numbers 313 and 327. The Delhi Walla […]

Faqir Chand

City Landmark – Faqir Chand and Sons, Khan Market

Not just another bookshop. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Historian Romila Thapar has visited this old family run bookshop in Khan Market. Author Gita Mehta talked of it in her book Snakes And Ladders: Glimpses Of Modern India. Late poet Kamala Das would walk down to this shop in the evenings from her […]


City Landmark – Librairie Galignani, Rue de Rivoli

Better than Shakespeare & Company. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] No, not Shakespeare & Company. The best bookstore in Paris for readers in English is actually Librairie Galignani. Founded in 1801, it is the oldest English-language bookstore in Europe outside England. To be sure, Shakespeare & Company is a very good bookstore. Situated […]


City Landmark – Libreria Alef, Bookshop, Venice Ghetto

Italy’s unique bookshop. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] It was very curious. The other day the Italian Jewish newspaper Pagine Ebraiche ran a special issue on the 500th anniversary of Venice’s ancient Jewish district, the world’s first ghetto. The 12-page supplement had no mention of Libreria Alef. The bookshop’s staffers were disappointed yet […]

Emilio Piacentini

City Landmark — Emilio Piacentini’s Wood Carving Shop, Venice Ghetto

The last man standing. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] This frail white-haired man is among the last of his kind in Venice. Emilio Piacentini is a wood-carver in the city’s ancient Jewish ghetto, which is observing its 500th anniversary this year. The Delhi Walla meets him one afternoon inside his deliciously shabby shop—it […]


City Landmark — Hem Raj Jain Clinic, Paharganj

The dream palace of a doctor. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] An elderly man is patiently looking out into the street through a curtained glass window. He is dressed in a three-piece suit, complete with a tie. The 63-year-old Vinod Kumar Jain—MBBS, Gold Medalist—awaits his next patient. The Delhi Walla meets Mr Jain, […]

Chor Bizarre

City Landmark – Chor Bizarre, Asaf Ali Road

A trip to Kashmir. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] If you throw a few stones standing somewhere south of Khan Market, you might not hit many Delhiwallas under a certain age, but you are likely to hit many who’ve heard of Chor Bizarre—a fixture on any write-up to do with the Capital’s fine- […]