January 20, 2007

A blog-to-blog chat with my friend Kini

My UK- based friend Kini,T R, has said some nice things about me in his blog. This is my pay-back piece. This way, he would need to access this blog to find out what I say about him. A b-chat between us, to be of interest to anyone else, ought to be more than an ego-cast. I would like to think this exchange isn't just a mutual back-scratching exercise. By this I don’t mean we adopt a reality TV mode in our b-exchanges.

Kini’s blog piece triggered nostalgia juice in me. He spoke of our co-editing of the Afro-Asian Echo in London of the sixties. Those were the days, when most young men in Delhi with a college degree looked towards the UK, if they failed to get into the IAS or find a covenanted company job, or,if they couldn’t become a college lecturer (as a stop-gap arrangement). Getting a work permit for England was easy those days for folks from Commonwealth countries.

Kini and I landed in London around the same time (May 1964?), though by different means. I took a boat from Bombay to Genova; and from there, a train (later day edition of the famed Orient Express) to London. And Kini, with a friend (Subash Chopra) hitch-hiked it all the way. I wish he blogs about it sometime in Gateway to India.

Afro-Asian Echo, as Kini said, was founded ‘on uncertain financial premises’; and folded within six months. Designed to serve the Afro-Asian community in England and Europe, the fortnightly Echo evoked, while it lasted, considerable interest in the African immigrant community. So much interest, in fact, that we once had a bunch of them Africans barging into my cabin to threaten us for having written an editorial, disaagreeably titled – OAU: Myth of African Unity.

Kini mentions Adil Jussawala and Farukh Dhondy (Is he still associated with Channel 4, Kini ?) who were commissioned to write for us. Would like to drop another famous name here, late Dom Moraes, whom I met, courtesy Kini. Incidentally, he was instrumental in introducing Leela Naidu (remember the old-time movies – Yeh Rasthe Hain Pyar Ke, the Householder?)to Dom Moraes. Leela used to work with Kini and me at India Weekly, brought out by a bunch of London-based journalists.

It was a labour of love for Ms Naidu. India Weekly paid us, Kini and me, subsistence wages that we cheerfully accepted. The other option for me, at that stage, was joining the dole queue. Would you know, Kini, the current whereabouts of Ashoke Gupta, who worked with us at India Weekly ? And, of its promoters such as Mr Iqbal Singh and Mr H S Gourisaria ?

Wouldn’t it be nice, if we could sustain this b-chat? We might even reconnect with some old friends.

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