Delhiwale: Bookseller bares her heart
- Proust questionnaire with a Millennium City bookstore owner
It’s late afternoon. Pricked with high-rises, Gurugram sky is half-blue and half cloudy. Inside, the glass-walled South Point mall is teeming with masked shoppers.
Even amid the air-conditioned luxury, you feel the ravages of the pandemic. A popular cafe has shut down; a specialty restaurant has been replaced by a beauty shop—what must have become of their friendly waiters? But Quill And Canvas, one of the Millennium City’s oldest surviving bookstores—and perhaps among Delhi region’s most spacious—continues to exist on the first floor.
Founded in nearby Galleria Market, it will enter its 20th year in October. “Our shop shall survive the pandemic,” says owner Shobha Sengupta as she prepares an online invite on her mobile phone for a forthcoming meet-the-author event on Zoom. “Coronavirus has been horrible to all of us but it has opened other possibilities, like these online events, which is making the world smaller… recently we did a talk with author Raza Mir who was actually sitting in New Jersey.”
Ms Sengupta, 62, takes a break from work to answer the Proust questionnaire in which folks are nudged to make “Parisian parlour confessions”, all to explore citizens’ distinct experiences.
Your favourite virtue
Authenticity, I hope
Your main fault
Bluntness to the point of insensitivity
Your favourite qualities in a man
Fearlessness and kindness
Your favourite qualities in a woman
The courage to be androgynous, and compassion
If not yourself, who would you be?
Ruler of an Utopian kingdom
Where would you like to live?
Right where I am, Gurgaon
Your favourite bird
Eagle from a distance, Hummingbird from up close
Your heroes/heroines in real life
My husband, my mother, the people who stood by me, no matter what
Your favourite food and drink
Chicken chettinad with appam; and champagne
What do you hate the most?
Lies. Any kind of dishonesty, especially to oneself
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with
Singing. Am totally off key!
Faults for which you have the most tolerance
Excessive love of grammar and syntax