WRITING STYLE: 4/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4/5
Life in a red-light district is never an easy one, even for somebody who has come into its folds by choice. The book “Nobody Can Love You More: Life in Delhi’s Red Light District” written by the famous blogger cum writer Mayank Austen Soofi of the “delhiwalla.com” fame, does an intense portrayal of life in GB Road, Delhi’s Red Light District.
In trying to project the true image of the infamous inhabitants of the GB road, Mayank does extensive primary research in the form of interviews with almost all categories of people who have or have had the ill fortune to reside in its crumbling and dilapidated buildings.
Mayank extensively and regularly interacts with the residents of one particular “Kotha”; the Kotha No 300.
He talks to them, plays with them, does small talk with them, and breaks bread with them.
Mayank’s book helps one understand their ordinary lives that lie behind the façade of their extraordinary profession. There are the sex workers, the owners, the maliks, the pimps and the runners.
The owners live away in fancy Delhi neighbourhoods, having nothing to do with the “Kothas” or the things that happen within their walls, except for collecting the monthly rentals which their so-called Kotha buildings earn them.
The Maliks are the power centres, controlling who can live and work in their premises and who cannot, who can be brought in and who has to be thrown out and last but not the least which customers can be entertained and which cannot.
The sex-workers are the next in the hierarchy, working their bodies off to earn enough to sustain themselves.
Some are brought by choice, while some are duped into believing that they will be working as housemaids in Delhi’s posh neighbourhoods until they finally realize the truth.
Some are forcedly sold into the ugly trade as minors at the hands of greedy uncles or neighbours who are cunning enough to deceive such underage girls.
The next are the pimps or the “Dalals”, they are the ones who get business or catch hold of customers many a time for minuscule commissions offered by the kotha runners.
The worst off are the old workers who cannot carry on the trade due to their old age and end up as runner girls for the sex workers or the kotha owners running up and down getting their evening cups of tea, or daily groceries or doing other such petty jobs.
The book is full of pictures which very aptly supports the text.
As a bonus for art and history lovers Mayank also explores the history of the place starting right from the age of the Mughals.
He also extensively hunts down music singers, dancers and other people who were once associated with the old art while also exploring the architecture and art of the bygone era.
In a nutshell, “Nobody Can Love You More” vividly brings out the essence of Delhi’s Red Light Area – in its current and historic state and I recommend it to all non-fiction lovers who wish to know what goes on behind the dingy and dusty lanes of Delhi’s Red Light Area.