By Fahad Shah
A traveller. A photographer. A book lover. And a guide to Delhi. He walks all around the city. Alone, late in the night, he writes what he had experienced from dawn to dusk. He enjoys every moment, every food, and every place. He lives Delhi through his writing. Mayank Austen Soofi is the author of three guidebooks, The Delhi Walla series. They were published by HarperCollins India in 2010.
To me, these books are more than just guides. They are like a personal Delhi mantra that you should keep on your bedside. The books look lovely and are lovely to read. You feel as if it’s you who is walking in the courtyard of Dargah Nizammudin. As if you are listening to the qawaals. As if you are eating the wonderful Delhi dishes. As if you are enjoying the pleasant breeze of Agrasen Ki Baaoli, even though the truth might be that you have never been to Delhi and that your only exposure to the city is through The Delhi Walla books.
Mayank started writing about this city, first on his site thedelhiwalla.com. And then he published his books.
One evening of last autumn, I went to Anjali Bookshop, a secondhand bookstore in Lajpat Nagar. The owner told me: “Mayank is regular here. His books are selling like hot cakes.”
I soon found out why.
The photographs in the books are by Mayank himself. Each is worth a thousand words. And the words are no less impressive. Sentences are strung together like pearls in a necklace. While reading the books, or even flipping through them, you feel as if Mayank is walking by your side in your journey through Delhi’s underbelly. These books have been written from the heart. I recommend them to all those who want to live the Delhi life even while living thousands of miles away from the city.