Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Manika Dhama, Barakhamba
The Proustian self-introspection.
[By The Delhi Proustians]
The Proust Questionnaire represents a form of interview that owes its structure to answers given by French novelist Marcel Proust, the author of In Search of Lost Time, at two birthday parties that he attended at ages 13 and 20 in the late 19th century.
In 2013, The Delhi Proustians takes Les confidences de salon (Drawing room confessions) around the city to explore people’s lives, thoughts, values and experiences. This series would involve interviews across Delhi and will be conducted by writers Manika Dhama and Mayank Austen Soofi.
For the second instalment in the series Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire, Manika Dhama made confessions to Mayank Austen Soofi whom she met one busy afternoon between business appointments in Central Delhi’s Barakhamba.
Your favorite virtue or the principal aspect of your personality
Ability to stay calm amidst stormy situations, for the most part
Your favorite qualities in a man
An honest gaze and his ability to turn a phrase
Your favorite qualities in a woman
Bravado and delectable wit
Your chief characteristic
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Brutal honesty and infectious humor
Your main fault
(Usually) failed attempts to do too many things all at once
Your favorite occupation
Capturing countless travels in words and on camera
Your idea of happiness
A highly evolved state of being, unmarred by life’s trials
Your idea of misery or what would be your greatest misfortune?
Becoming a slave to negative emotions
If not yourself, who would you be?
A singing, guitar-playing version of myself, with better hair and superior writing skills
Where would you like to live?
New York. Or on Akbar Road in Delhi, say for instance, (politician) Meira Kumar’s current residence
Your favourite colour and flower
All colors. They’re perfect in some or the other way. All flowers are lovely too, though I’m not a big fan of roses
Your favorite bird
Anything that eats insects is good
Your favorite prose authors
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, PG Wodehouse, Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust
Your favorite poets
Emily Dickinson, Bob Dylan and Eddie Vedder
Your favorite heroes in fiction
Your favorite heroines in fiction
Scarlett O’ Hara. She was a spoilt sassy little minx
Your favorite composers
I don’t have enough classical music exposure. Does Led Zeppelin and Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) count?
Your favorite painters
Your heroes/heroines in real life
Countless people around the world who’re creating value in others’ lives or fighting for change
What characters in history do you most dislike?
Your heroines in World history
Your favorite food and drink
Coffee flavored anything
Your favorite names
Advay, Cassandra, Shylock
What do you hate the most?
The claims of control or superiority over another human being in the name of race, gender, class, caste etc
The military event you admire the most
All the wars that didn’t happen
The reform you admire the most
Reform that takes place in a human heart. It can move mountains
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with
Musical talent – singer, songwriter, composer
How do you wish to die?
While napping in the porch on a winter afternoon in Delhi, preferably with a book of poetry resting on my belly
What is your present state of mind?
Faults for which you have the most tolerance
Your motto in life
Celebrate the life you have today because this right here is the “good ol’ days”
Diving deep within, like Marcel
I like most of her responses. I wish you’d blurred out that monstrosity of a building from the background ( Central Bank of India, Barakhamba Road). It is a black( grey?) hole that forcefully sucks in every particle of aesthetic value that dares to venture too close.
PS when are you going to interview some cute guys, Mayank?
I like picture 7
When I read this, I suddenly remembered that I’ve read this questionnaire long time ago, answered by the well-known Belgian novelist Amélie Nothomb. I loved her answers (some would be mine as well):
Your idea of happiness? Freefall.
Your favourite activity? Writing.
Your favorite qualities in a man? Nobility.
Your favorite qualities in a woman? Madness.
Your favourite colour? Old gold.
Your favourite authors? Nietzsche, Stendhal, Cervantes, Petronius, Diderot, Tanizaki, Radiguet. All are on my bedside table.
The names you prefer? Léopoldine, Adele.
What do you hate the most? Vulgarity.
The historical figure that you would have liked to look like? Marco Polo.
The hero of fiction? Count d’Orgel (Radiguet).
Your favorite drink? Your favorite drug?
Drugs: strong tea.
If you were to change one thing about your physical appearance, what would you choose? Dark circles.
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with? I wanted to compose music.
What do you hate most? Vulgarity.
The mistakes that you most indulgent? Those committed by love.
How do you wish to die? Thunderstruck.
Your state of mind? The astonishment.
Your motto? “Be economical with your contempt, because there are many in need” (Chateaubriand).
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