This book is Mayank Austen Soofi’s account in honest words & stark photographs about the lives of the women of Kotha No 300 – one of the brothels of G. B. Road – Delhi’s infamous red-light district. It explores the lives of these women and provides a “seemingly” honest account of their trials & tribulations.
Mayank Austen Soofi is a Delhi-based Indian writer, blogger and photojournalist, who writes popular columns for Hindustan Times and Mint on culture, food and literary landscapes of Delhi. He is best known for his website and blog, The Delhi Walla. (Taken from Wikipedia)
The best part about this book is that Mayank never takes any sides & always remains objective with his words and also the brilliant photographs featured! His words are exactly what he has seen, felt and explored in the many years spent in that area. His conversations with the brothel owners, prostitutes, their kids, the shop-owners of that area and also with some other people associated with this profession are very stark, in the face and at times brutal but they never sound artificial or made-up!
Another noteworthy facet is that the book never gets emotional or sentimental and at the same time you feel the pain what these women go through every day of their lives. He never pities the women or make them the proverbial “exploited” women as most of the books on such a topic portray them to be.
Being a Delhite myself I could relate a lot with how well he has described the city and most particularly the GB Road Area – innocuous as it may seems but has in it’s belly many such stories of exploitation and pain!
Mayank has spent a lot of time & sweat on researching for this book and that shows in all the detailing which has been presented so vividly and in a very easy-to-read format.
Just want to copy some lines from this book which have been written by Hasan Bhai & he named this couplet ‘Tawaif Kaun’. I simply loved these words.
Yeh woh aurat hai
Tumhari nazar mein
Jiska jism sirf auratnuma hai.
Jise tumne kabhi aurat maana
Asli aurat Yahi hai
Ye sabra-na-jabt ki hain putli
Tawaif isko tum kehte ho
Tum Isko besawa keh lo
Ye sab kuch maan leti hain
Palat kar kuch nahin kehti
Yeh shafaf darpan hain
Har chand aaina hain.
I loved this book and recommend this to every non-fiction genre fan and specially to those who love reading books about Delhi just like me!
So till the time we meet again…
Cheers to life…
Till then ride safe and have safe sex…
Hasta la Victoria Siempre…