The Proust Questionnaire is a fortnightly feature which derives its name from the French writer Marcel Proust, whose personality-revealing responses to these questions went on to popularise this form of celebrity confession. This questionnaire was administered by SHONALI MUTHALALY
What is your idea of happiness?
As a child, demanding and getting food at ridiculous intervals. As a young person, exploiting life to the fullest with food and entertainment (like errr.... more food). And now, waking up to smiling, squealing children, and eating great food all the time. Remember, you are what you eat and nobody likes a karela or a tinda. So be sweet.
What is your greatest fear?
We're nomads. It would be terrifying to be on a long diet, strictly enforced, and to stay in one place while carrying it out. Aaarghhh!
What is your favourite virtue?
Humility. You can see our modesty in each word we write so beautifully and with such remarkable insight. Kindness is another one, because like a buffet you're happy to get as much of it as you can and as you dish it out it's accepted equally joyously. So pass the kindness and keep it coming.
What is the principal aspect of your personality?
I think we're sort of happy-go-lucky, the-glass-is-always-half-full kind of guys. Of course the striking good looks and incredible physiques also help. And did we remember a complete detachment from reality?
What is your main fault?
No idea what you're saying. We didn't do it. We're innocent. In fact, if someone ever says that it's our fault we're happy to inform them that it wasn't us. Sometimes it would be that we eat way too much. Other times we wish we had eaten too much.
For what fault do you have the most tolerance?
As long as no malice is intended then I guess a fault is really an oversight or error and as such deserves patience and a little bit of understanding.
What do you hate the most?
We're a 5,000-year-old culture. We need to be aware of our environment, our manners, our villages, cities and country. Be responsible and socially conscious. Things like not standing in lines, being uncouth and loud in public, shutting a door of a public place on someone's face behind you, honking constantly and needlessly are some of the things we hate the most.
What would be your greatest misfortune?
Rocky: We consider ourselves blessed for the lives we're leading. As per karma we must have done so many better things than other people in our last lives to be able to do this in the current one. A 9-to-5 job with heavy responsibility would be a tragedy of epic proportions.
Mayur: It would be tragic to lose the joie de vivre that makes life interesting and fun.
What is your most treasured possession?
Books. Thousands of them on a variety of subjects, though mostly about food, collected over 40 years. While on the subject we did write a book on our own “Highway on my Plate – the Indian guide to roadside eating” that won the world Gourmand award at Paris. The medal for that's up on our walls and is a related ‘favourite' possession.
What is your favourite colour?
If not yourself, who would you be?
We must concede it would be someone else. If we weren't ourselves we'd be strange people who do all the regular things.
Who are your favourite poets?
Apart from the legendary Manjula manjula manjula — pi hai dekho maine whisky manjula written by Baba Sehgal, the other poets who inspire us are Rudyard Kipling, Robert Frost and Kahlil Gibran
What is the military event you admire the most?
The words written on the war memorial of Maj. Shaitan Singh Bhati, who fought against impossible odds to the last man and last bullet and died in a charge at Rizang La against the Chinese deserve awe, respect and admiration: “How can a man die better, than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his gods!”
What is the reform you admire the most?
In a democracy it is important that power be given to the people and that can only happen when people know and demand their rights. We will all be better off with Education for All Indians. It's an important reform and even though we personally, may have sort of missed the boat by never paying attention in school and college, an educated India will be a powerful India.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Oh lord, even more than the talents we already have? This one's easy. The ability to make music and sing well.
Which character in world history do you most despise?
Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, the Butcher of Amritsar. May his soul rot in hell for eternity. There are plenty of corrupt people in India today killing just as many Indians as Dyer did by skimming off public funds meant for the betterment of our country. We completely despise these thieves too.
What is your favourite food and drink?
As long as we get food, lots of it, enough to overeat and over-drink on a regular basis, we love it all. More specifically Mayur's favourite is Kathiawadi from Gujarat and Rocky's is Naadan food from Kerala. As for drink, whatever you can get whenever you can get it. Hic.
What is your present state of mind?
Mayur: Khao, piyo, jiyo. [Eat, drink, live.]
Rocky: Live and let live, spread love and joy, stand for what is right. Fight for what you believe. Stand by your ideals and always, always share your food. It actually tastes better.
How would you like to die?
I believe the correct way is to put permanent colour into hot water and then put in a fabric you want coloured... Oh, DIE ? ok. Well quickly, for one, with minimum fuss.
Later would be preferable and sooner would be really inconvenient. Oh, and not somewhere embarrassing, like in a bathroom or nudist camp.
What is your favourite motto?
Illegitimi non carborundum — Don't let the bastards grind you down.
Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma proved, with “Highway on My Plate” on NDTV Good Times, that a proudly indigenous food-and-travel show can be local, glossy and successful. They recently wrote “Highway on My Plate: The Indian Guide to Roadside Eating”, which won a Gourmand World Cookbook Award for ‘Best TV Celebrity Cookbook' and promise they have “lots more books germinating in our heads and another in the tandoor”. By their estimation, they've covered 80,000 km over the last five years. That's more than 500 restaurants, and given how much they eat, a lot of food.