Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Nameer Alvi, Pahari Rajaan

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Nameer Alvi, Pahari Rajaan

The parlour confession. [By Mayank Austen Soofi] He is 21 and his mother calls him “mera achha wala beta,” my good son. Youngest of three brothers and a sister, he is the only one to go out of his way…

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Nadira Khan, Central Delhi

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Nadira Khan, Central Delhi

The parlour confession. [By Mayank Austen Soofi] Nadia Khan is leaving Delhi. After six years as a research fellow in Jamia Millia Islamia university where she finished her PhD on “expats assigned to India,” the Srinagar native is herself to…

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – School Student Amaan Saifi, Central Delhi

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – School Student Amaan Saifi, Central Delhi

The parlour confession. [By Mayank Austen Soofi] The household is all astir at this early morning hour, here in central Delhi. 9th standard student Amaan Saifi has his English exam today. As he prepares to leave for the school on…

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Bookseller Ajay Jain, Ansari Road

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Bookseller Ajay Jain, Ansari Road

The parlour confession. [By Mayank Austen Soofi] Does he himself read such heavy-duty books? Ajay Jain deals in scholarly books on Indian history and politics. His shop—Manohar Publishers & Distributors—is frequented by scholars from India and abroad. In his 50s,…

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Mirza Ghalib, Ghalib Academy

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Mirza Ghalib, Ghalib Academy

The parlour confession. [By Mayank Austen Soofi] Mirza Ghalib is eternal. The Agra-born poet lived in Old Delhi’s Ballimaran; his sasural was in modern-day Haryana (Loharu). While lying long buried in our city, Ghalib still gamely agreed to become a…

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Gulesh Chauhan, On the Road

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Gulesh Chauhan, On the Road

The parlour confession. [By Mayank Austen Soofi] Almost everyone in Ghaziabad’s Karkar village can tell you the directions to her house, she says. Gulesh Chauhan is admired in her neighbourhood as the woman who drives an Uber cab in the…

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Susana Zarco, Rajokri

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Susana Zarco, Rajokri

The parlour confession. [By Mayank Austen Soofi] She reads poetry and makes her own dresses. The Lisbon-born Susana Zarco walks into her drawing room, looking like a woman in a Vermeer painting. She designed this white-and-blue gown from a cotton…

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Divya Babu, Sector 54, Gurgaon

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Divya Babu, Sector 54, Gurgaon

The parlour confession. [By Mayank Austen Soofi] The rain has stopped and the evening sky is looking like an inverted golden bowl. Divya Babu is enjoying this magical sight perched far above the wet earth mired in flooded underpasses and…

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Ram Swaroop, Sadar Bazar

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Ram Swaroop, Sadar Bazar

The parlour confession. [By Mayank Austen Soofi] Rickshaw puller Ram Swaroop arrived in the Delhi region from his native Fatehpur in UP around 15 years ago, his family still lives there. In his early 40s, he sleeps on his rickshaw…

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Henri Cole, Boston

Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Henri Cole, Boston

The parlour confession. [By Mayank Austen Soofi; photo courtesy (unless specified otherwise)–Henri Cole] One of the great living poets working today, Henri Cole is the author of many poetry collections. His most recent book, Blizzard: Poems, was published in 2020….