Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Rajesh Kumar, Indian Coffee House
The parlour confession.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
Buzzy, affordable, unpretentious, class-transcending, iconic, and unique to the megapolis. The Indian Coffee House, established in 1957, at Mohan Singh Place. A living landmark here is the cheery-chatty head bearer Rajesh Kumar, a familiar face for more than 25 years. Elegantly uniformed (as always) in a starched turban and red cummerbund, he agreed to be a part of our Proust Questionnaire series in which citizens are nudged to make “Parisian parlour confessions”, all to explore our distinct experiences.
Your favorite virtue.
I serve food and coffee to people. I do that with a smile and a cheer.
Your favorite qualities in people.
Handy with smiles. Patient temperament. Dayalu (generous). Always striving for self-improvement, not staying forever at one place in life.
Your main fault.
Sometimes I raise my voice in defence of truth. People mistake it for anger.
Your favorite occupation.
Investing time with family.
Your idea of happiness.
When I’m giving—like putting money in a temple’s donation box., handing blankets to the homeless during winter, giving rotis to street dogs, leaving water for birds in the summer afternoons. I feel equally happy when I see others doing any of these things.
If not yourself, who would you be?
Where would you like to live?
Canada, or any other place where people are not constantly fighting each other.
Your favorite bird.
Can’t remember its name. It is a very small bird, you would see it in homes, in balconies and terraces. It is disappearing.
Your heroes/heroines in real life.
Manju Kumar, my wife.
Your favorite food and drink.
Aloo matar, musambi juice.
Your favorite names.
Rahul, Aman—the name of my son, Harshit.
What do you hate the most?
The way people behave after they get drunk.
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with.
What is your present state of mind?
I’m thinking that it is a rare chance for me to express myself to the world. So I have to answer these questions very honestly, by dipping deep into my heart.
Faults for which you have the most tolerance.
Sometimes in my line of work, I encounter customers who talk rudely. I forgive them. It’s a part of public dealing.