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 become an expat. She is flying later this month to launch life’s new innings in Seymour, a city in Indiana, the US. The young woman is offering her goodbye to Delhi by visiting all the places she wanted to explore. Last Friday she spent three hours in Purana Quila—alone—walking, sitting, soliloquising, reading, clicking pictures, and she also e-mailed her life coach. She agrees to become a part of the Proust Questionnaire series in which folks are nudged to make “Parisian parlour confessions”, all to explore citizens’ distinct experiences.
Your favourite virtue or the principal aspect of your personality
I am resilient and a go-getter.
Your favourite qualities in a man
Integrity in men and women both, sense of humour.
Your favourite qualities in a woman
Grace and strength. I like when women are sufficient for themselves without any external help.
Your chief characteristic
Empathy and strength in equal amounts.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Your main fault
Over-empathy. I care too much, pay too much attention.
Your favourite occupation
Your idea of happiness
Freedom with discipline.
Your idea of misery or what would be your greatest misfortune?
My biggest misfortune would be to die without having written anything, I mean vocationally.
If not yourself who would you be?
Where would you like to live?
For now I have grown obsessed with Delhi. It was not like this always. I hated the crowd and the hustle. Then I read a little into the history of Delhi, the way it has risen back numerous times from ashes, centuries of rulers wanting to make it their own. I also went out exploring a little, read a little of the likes of William Dalrymple, Ahmed Ali and Rana Safvi, of course looked at Delhi through your prism, and most importantly the fact that this is where Arundhati Roy chooses to live. I am not done knowing Delhi yet.
Your favourite colour and flower
Your favourite bird
Your favourite prose authors
Arundhati Roy, Sylvia Plath, Franz Kafka, Chimamanda Adichie.
Your favourite poets
W.B. Yeats, Amrita Pritam, Parveen Shakir, Faiz.
Your heroes/heroines in real life
Doctors. My father is one and I have seen him give his entire life to helping people.
Your favourite food and drink
What do you hate the most?
The reform you admire the most
Abolition of child marriage, more recently driving rights to women.
The natural talent you would like to be gifted with
How to you wish to die?
I want to die a writer and having lived my life in complete freedom and discipline. If it means how the death should come, then naturally and swiftly.
What is your present state of mind?
I am in the process of healing.
Faults for which you have the most tolerance
People talking highly of themselves.
Your motto in life
Be active and solution oriented. Don’t dwell on problems and failures.
Nadira Khan, a portrait