January 30, 2007

B2B with K : My indebtedness, to Satish, Subash

Within hours after I posted the Recover, Soon piece, Kini bounced back with an engaging slice-of-life post on life in London of the sixties. Kini is skeptical if this sort of mutual nostalgia-fest would interest anyone other than the two of us. Maybe, it won’t, if you have in mind those who don't relate to either one of us or to London when the girls wore skirts shorter and the boys sported long hair (wonder if you can post a snapshot of yours of those days); the London of Twiggy and Beatles sensation.

My take is our nostalgia trip might interest others, if it has social context and a flavour of local history. Maybe our B2B could be of wider interest if we talk about today things in the light of our past experience. Take this Channel 4 inspired Goody-Shetty spat. What do folks say in your ‘geriatric land’ in coastal Kent? Do you have a race situation in Herne Bay?

Getting back to the 60s, Kini spending some days in Shepherds Bush gurudwara comes as news to me. I had always associated him with a South Kensington address, frequenting pubs in classy Earls Court or Chelsea with his artist and poet friends. My scene was more like the underground pub at Leister Sq, serving German beer, in litre (not in pegs); a noisy joint frequented by Punjabi paapaes and Pakistanis. My crowd was a group of Delhi coffee-house regulars that had been transposed to London.

It was a coffee-house contact, Satish Kohli, who met me at the railway station when I landed in London with 12 shillings in pocket; put me up with him at his Golders Green bed-sitter; and, even took on the landlady, an Indian widow who worked at our highcom. She didn’t relish my stay without paying anything. Satish didn’t dump me. We moved house, first to a cheap, working-class Holloway (known for it women’s prison), and then to Bayswater. I would always remain indebted to Satish Kohli. Wonder where he is; would you know, Kini?

Satish is not the only chap, to whom I feel indebted, but had neglected to stay in touch with, as I moved on in life. Subash Chopra is another guy. You know, Kini, I got into Northern Echo, Darlington, on his say-so. He had worked there before I joined. Subash put in a word for me with editor Don Evans as he was switching to another daily in Oxford (I reckon). Subash is the only guy in our gang who can rightfully claim he was on the Fleet St. Subash eventually had a stint as sub-editor on The Times, London.

At the Echo, a leading provincial daily that was next only to the Yorkshire Post, in terms of circulation, had good impression about Indian sub-editors because of the track record left by Subash and Sunny Rao who had gone to the Echo from the Times of India, Bombay. I joined the Darlington paper a couple of years after he had left. Yet my colleagues on the newsdesk still used to talk about Sunny's work.

Subash Chopra may have no reason to know this: 1) he was instrumental in my getting a break in mainstream journalism; and 2)The job he helped me get paid me enough to save the 100 pounds that I needed for my passage back to India. A group of us did it overland, in a 12-seater van, across eight countries – Belgium, Austria, Germany, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan.

B2B archive
A blog-to-blog chat
Confusing chronology
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
A new Renaissance

No comments: