City Faith - Hazrat Madni Shah Baba, Near Jama Masjid

A shrine’s best-kept secret. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] It’s one of the lesser known shrines of the capital and it is tucked within… oh well, another lesser known shrine. The historic graves of Hazrat Sarmad Shahid and…

City Nature - Olive Trees, Italian Embassy

A bit of the Mediterranean. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] It might be dry, dusty and polluted, but Delhi is home to 252 species of trees. (New York has 130.) Right now, the bloom of the semal’s red…

City Hangout - Bat Island, Deer Park

The evening show. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] The sun is gone, the sky is dark. Bats are flying over the lake, letting out shrill chee-chee cries. They are spilling out in all directions, as chaotically and in…

Mission Delhi - Gauri Mohan Gupta, Sushant Lok

One of the one percent in 13 million. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Many book-loving Delhi homes have Shakespeare, Tagore, Tolstoy and Ghalib. French author Marcel Proust is more difficult to spot, though his novel is counted among…

City Hangout - Northeast Grocery Shop, Chirag Delhi

Taste of home. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] It’s called Northeast Grocery Shop but it is not in north-east Delhi. It is, in fact, in the southern part of the city, in Chirag Delhi village. And yet the…

City Food - Kamruddin's Chuski, South Delhi

Summer’s chiller. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Hot afternoon. Empty lane. Kamruddin enters. A young girl runs after his cart, asking the man for his signature treat, which she calls “baraf ka gola”—a ball of crushed ice on…

City Hangout - Peer Baba's Courtyard, Mohalla Qabristan

Green oasis. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] Some birds, some cats, a few trees, a few graves, and absolute quietude. Spending five minutes here is enough to secede from the life of everyday. Duties, concerns, plans, worries, prospects,…

Delhi's Bandaged Heart - Raj Tekwani's Poem to 'Forever', DLF Phase 4

Poetry in the city. [By Mayank Austen Soofi] As we reach the first anniversary of the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, here’s a poem about our housebound days, then threatening to go on forever. In his early 20s, poet Raj Tekwani is both…

Mission Delhi - Farhan Zaidi, Khureji Khas

One of the one percent in 13 million. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] These are bigger rooms, and here’s a hall too—finally ensuring a separate drawing room to host guests. After a lifetime in Old Delhi, Farhan Zaidi,…

Home Sweet Home - House of Labourers, Ansari Road

So open, yet secretive. [Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi] The doors are locked, their wood rotting. The window jaalis are cobwebbed. The balconies are blocked with bricks. The weather-beaten building must be empty inside. Yet, it shelters very…