City Library - Ashis Nandy's and Uma Nandy's Library, Hazrat Nizamuddin East

City Library – Ashis Nandy’s and Uma Nandy’s Library, Hazrat Nizamuddin East

Couple’s collection. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] One day, some years ago, an academic from abroad entered their house. He was courteously told to sit. He replied, “But where?” The books are on the sofa, and on the…

City Library - American Center Library, Kasturba Gandhi Marg

City Library – American Center Library, Kasturba Gandhi Marg

Sounds from silences. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] If you listen, the steady hum of a machine can be heard. Maybe it’s the air conditioner. Or rather a radiator, for this is the cold season. The sound is…

City Library - Diplomat Maharajakrishna Rasgotra's Books, Sapru House

City Library – Diplomat Maharajakrishna Rasgotra’s Books, Sapru House

Diplomat’s poetic side. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] “Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you what you are.” This maxim by French epicure Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin works equally well if “eat” is replaced with “read”. That…

City Library - 3L Library, Defence Colony

City Library – 3L Library, Defence Colony

An old-world lending library. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] One doesn’t always want to stumble upon the past. After all, there is so much contemporary stuff to handle. But Delhi is littered with souvenirs from yesterday. And this…

City Library - Rakhshanda Jalil's Mills & Boon Collection, Central Delhi

City Library – Rakhshanda Jalil’s Mills & Boon Collection, Central Delhi

Part of her past. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] How could any man be so mean? Could Kate really bear Adam long enough to discover the gentleness he apparently possessed? More urgently, did Rakhshanda Jalil really care? Turns…

City Library - Jawaharlal Nehru's Book Collection, Teen Murti House

City Library – Jawaharlal Nehru’s Book Collection, Teen Murti House

Statesman’s books. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Hundreds of books have been written on India’s first prime minister. One day The Delhi Walla checked out the books that Jawaharlal Nehru kept in his home. Millions of people have…

City Library - Shalini Bahadur's Books, Gurgaon

City Library – Shalini Bahadur’s Books, Gurgaon

Life with books. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] She woke up very early in her Gurgaon condo the morning after prime minister’s first speech on janta curfew, the one that preempted the much-longer coronavirus-ridden lockdown. By 6.15 am,…

City Library - Sikander Aaquil’s Lockdown Reading, New Palam Vihar

City Library – Sikander Aaquil’s Lockdown Reading, New Palam Vihar

Finding Geeta. [Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi] Sikander Aaquil’s work has come to a grinding halt. A building contractor, he can no longer oversee the construction of private houses — though he does spend some time every day…

City Library - Shakespearean Jonathan Gil Harris's Books, Hauz Khas

City Library – Shakespearean Jonathan Gil Harris’s Books, Hauz Khas

A vanishing world. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Yes, finally discovered! A Delhi library with arguably the best collection dealing with Shakespeare. Not at the British Council. Nor even the ample library of Karol Bagh’s Rupin Walter Desai…

City Library – Krishna Prasad Jain’s Books, Vasant Vihar

City Library – Krishna Prasad Jain’s Books, Vasant Vihar

A vanishing world. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Here you shall find Milan Kundera’s classic novel personally inscribed by him. Also the first edition of Midnight Children, duly signed by Salman Rushdie. Krishna Prasad Jain, 80, owns this…