Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Somak Ghoshal, Defence Colony
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 early 2013, The Delhi Proustians started taking Les confidences de salon (Drawing room confessions) around the city to explore people’s lives, thoughts, values and experiences. The series involves interviews across Delhi and is conducted by writers Manika Dhama and Mayank Austen Soofi.
For the twelfth installment of Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire, Somak Ghoshal made confessions to Mayank at his book-lined residence in Defence Colony. Mr Ghoshal has a passion for reading.
Your favorite virtue or the principal aspect of your personality
Refusal to lower my intellectual standards
Your favorite qualities in a man
Sense of humour, kindness, vulnerability
Your favorite qualities in a woman
Feisty, funny, intellectually engaging
Your chief characteristic
Appearing meek and mild
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Your main fault
Your favorite occupation
Reading, writing and conversation
Your idea of happiness
Curled up in bed with a book and my cat, with the Cole Porter Songbook playing on loop
Your idea of misery or what would be your greatest misfortune?
To lose my eyesight
If not yourself, who would you be?
Where would you like to live?
Your favourite colour and flower
Blue and rose
Your favorite bird
I have a phobia of birds
Your favorite prose authors
Henry James, Marcel Proust, Thomas Mann, W.G. Sebald, Evelyn Waugh, Franz Kafka, Jane Austen, Dorothy Parker, Virginia Woolf, Nancy Mitford, J.M. Coetzee
Your favorite poets
Elizabeth Bishop, W.H. Auden, Rainer Maria Rilke, C.P. Cavafy, T.S. Eliot, Chaucer and Shakespeare
Your favorite heroes in fiction
Hamlet; Hans Castorp in Mann’s Magic Mountain; Yuichi in Yukio Mishima’s Forbidden Colours, Strether in James’s Ambassadors; Bosie in Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis; Gregor Samsa in The Metamorphosis
Your favorite heroines in fiction
Chaucer’s Wife of Bath; Elizabeth Costello in Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello; Mrs Ramsay in To the Lighthouse
Your favorite composers
Wagner, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Chopin
Your favorite painters (artists)
Picasso, Turner, Rothko, Bridget Riley, Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin, Bruce Nauman, Marina Abramovic, Dayanita Singh
Your heroes/heroines in real life
What characters in history do you most dislike?
All the fascists. Too many to name here
Your heroines in World history
Your favorite food and drink
Steak tartare. Chilled Prosecco
Your favorite names
Lysander and Gregor
What do you hate the most?
The military event you admire the most
The reform you admire the most
Many, but most recently, the reading down of Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with
More tolerance of stupid people
How do you wish to die?
In my sleep — and hopefully being discovered by a concerned human being before the maggots do
What is your present state of mind?
The usual: living elsewhere
Faults for which you have the most tolerance
Diffidence, if it is a fault at all
Your motto in life
Live by the tea-time
Diving deep within, like Marcel