I had this rare phone call from Irfan Khan in Mumbai in the wake of an e-mail he had received from Kini. We, Irfan and I, have been in e-mail touch for some time now. Our exchange was usually about sharing media/web articles of mutual interest. I usually e-mailed friends and contacts about something I had written on the web, in the belief that they would be as enthusiastic reading the stuff as I was writing it. A friend of mine calls it GVK’s brag-mail. Many of them respond with flattering one-liners –‘very interesting’, ‘keep it up’, or some such suitably polite words. But a phone call was rare; and Irfan’s call went on for the better part of an hour.
It all started with my brag-mail alerting Irfan, among others,to a Desicritic piece -Blogging it out with my friend Kini. There was response from a few who suggested informative web links on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), of which Kini is a victim. Irfan sent Kini a one-liner, wishing him well, not knowing that Kini and he had been on the staff of Patriot daily, New Delhi, for a brief period in early sixties They had since moved their separate ways. With no reason or occasion to reconnect, for over four decades, Irfan couldn’t place Kini from my mail, but sent him a get-well message, as he would have done with any friend of his friends.
But Kini caught on, and responded to Irfan, reminding him of their Patriot connection (1963-64). As a low-paid newspaper reporter Irfan Khan used to own a car, which was exceptional for journalists those days, said Kini, adding that Irfan had once driven him to Vice-President Zakir Hussain’s residence for tea. “I was gobsmacked !”, said Kini in an e-mail to Irfan, of which he marked a copy to me. What does the word mean, Kini? I’m afraid, I haven’t heard of ‘gobsmack’.
Irfan told me on phone that the car Kini referred to was a gift from his mother, who wasn’t comfortable with her son driving a mobike,that he occasionally used for a cross-country ride (to places like Shimla). A car, his mother reckoned, was safer. And,Irfan said it came cheaper than his bike. Besides, petrol was 45 paise a litre (or was it a gallon?) those days.
Irfan has a UK-connect. He did a six-month stint on a Cardiff fellowship for journalists; was an intern with The Sunday Times, London; and related to many of those Kini has blogged about – Subash Chopra, Salman Haider, P T Chandra and many others. Happy to have re-discovered Kini through this bug called a blog, Irfan said he had half a mind to set up a blog of his own. I know he has a headful of stuff that he can blog about. He once told me he was working on a book. If he hasn’t done it yet, a blog would synergize material-gathering for his book in the making.
A blog-to-blog chat
Our Fleet St. Days
Dr.Basu of India Weekly
Shroff Saab of Carmelite St.
Mr Chandra in Fleet St.
Mr Chandra of The Tribune, Chandigarh