Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Namit Arora, DLF Phase 3
The parlour confession.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Namit Arora is into reading, writing, travelling—so much so that he and his partner gave up their corporate career in California to travel and write about India, where they took up a place in Gurgaon in the Greater Delhi Region. Across the years, the couple have been to over a hundred destinations in 20 states on trains and buses but rarely on the plane, returning frequently to their “base camp” in DLF Phase 3. They would share their travelogues on their website and he even finished a book on Indian history based on his travels, which was ready to hit the world… just when the coronavirus hit the world last year. The book’s publication was postponed. It came out just now but he is still housebound. “Compared to so many others, the pandemic has been kind to me,” he says, chatting on WhatsApp video. “The worst it did was to induce prolonged mental states akin to cabin fever.”
In his 50s, he gamely answered the Proust Questionnaire series, in which folks from diverse backgrounds are nudged to make “Parisian parlour confessions”, so as to explore the lives and experiences of fellow citizens.
Your favorite virtue or the principal aspect of your personality
I’m comfortable in my own skin
Your favorite qualities in a man
Self-knowledge and compassion
Your favorite qualities in a woman
Self-knowledge and compassion
Your chief characteristic
I am large, I contain multitudes
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Similar values, shared experiences, listening with empathy, forgiveness, rooting for each other
Your main fault
Being insensitive to others’ vulnerabilities at times
Your favourite occupation
Your idea of happiness
Walking on a beach in south Goa
Your idea of misery or what would be your greatest misfortune?
If not yourself, who would you be?
Dunno. Better remain me, the known devil!
Where would you like to live?
Goa, London, Amsterdam, N. California
Your favourite colour and flower
Green; water lily
Your favourite bird
The Indian rose-ringed parakeet
Your favourite prose authors
BR Ambedkar, Romila Thapar, Perry Anderson, JM Coetzee, John Keay…
Your favorite poets
Kabir, Milosz, Szymborska…
Your favorite heroes in fiction
Brás Cubas in The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas by Machado de Assis.
Don Fabrizio in The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa
Your favorite heroines in fiction
Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.
Shanti in The Legend of Virinara by Usha Alexander
Your favorite composers
Hariprasad Chaurasia, Vusi Mahlasela…
Your favorite painters
Francisco Goya, MF Husain…
Your heroes/heroines in real life
Bilkis Bano, Harsh Mander, Bezwada Wilson, Rana Ayyub…
What characters in history do you most dislike?
Hitler, Stalin, Savarkar, Mao, Golwalkar…
Your heroines in World history
Sojourner Truth, Savitribai Phule, Harriet Tubman, Simone de Beauvoir…
Your favorite food and drink
Chilly paneer with Cuba Libre
What do you hate the most?
Fakery, willful ignorance, supremacism
The military event you admire the most
The Geneva Conventions, which established rules to make war more humane
The reform you admire the most
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with
How do you wish to die?
Without suffering and with some advance notice to set my affairs in order and say goodbyes
What is your present state of mind?
Faults for which you have the most tolerance
Tolerable levels of hypochondria, superstition, and cowardice
Your motto in life