City Obituary - Film Poster Seller Shanky, Old Delhi

A life in cinema. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Lean and boyish, Old Delhi’s Shanky wasn’t famous like a Bollywood star, but was well known among the collectors of Bollywood memorabilia. He traded treasures for a bargain—once he…

City Hangout - Basant Lok Market, South Delhi

Missing the old landmarks. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] It’s a small space but it doesn’t matter. You are stepping inside Delhi’s most eclectic bookstore. Here’s the owner poring over The New York Review of Books. Walk straight,…

City Life - Bamiyan Boys, Sunder Nursery

The dreams of some Afghans. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] When you hear the word Bamiyan, what do you see in your mind’s eye? May be, the Buddhas of Bamiyan. These were two monumental statues of Gautama Buddha,…

Mission Delhi - Praveen Lal, Connaught Place

One of the one percent in 13 million. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Many of us in this city can trace our roots to a village. Praveen Lal is no different. The shoeshine man lives with his wife…

City Hangout - Indian Christian Cemetery, Paharganj

Silence in noise. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] No breeze, immense stillness. Fallen leaves litter the ground like a worn carpet. All around, hundreds, perhaps thousands of graves. Some extremely well taken care of, others in disrepair—as if…

City Life - Shakespeare in Pandemic-Era Delhi, Hauz Khas Enclave

Shakespearean scholar on corona. [By Mayank Austen Soofi] Shakespeare invented the human — at least this is what is suggested by the title of an acclaimed book on the great playwright. Although he presumably never left his native England, Shakespeare’s…

City Landmark - Face of Stoicism, Anand Vihar

A portrait in acceptance. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] To be emotionally resilient to misfortune. To accept the moment as it presents itself. If you can be this, then you’re a stoic person. You may dig deeper by…

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…

City Moment - The ABCD Boy, Near Oberoi Hotel Flyover

A poignant traffic light instant. [Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi] The evening showers have stopped one hour ago, but the roadside ditches are still full of rainwater. Some prudent scooterists have actually kept their protective plastic capes wrapped…

City Life - Poetry after Second Surge, Ghalib Academy

Like a condolence. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Each person is separated from the other by a seat plastered with a printed leaflet cautioning “Please do not sit here.” They were put up last year during the first…