February 8, 2007

B2B with K: My take on the names you dropped...

Kini, a quickie on my recollection of the names you dropped in your last post. Mentioned here in order of their appearance in your account:

Irshad Panchatan: Knew him less as a mime artist than as a friend of my friend O P Kohli (is no more), who was the elder brother of Satish, who had sustained me during my cashless days in London. Are you still with me, Kini? Anyway, whenever Irshad was in Delhi he spent time with O P, with whom I used to hang around in the Janpath, and later Thambu Coffee house.

Irshad and O P were associated with the Hindustani Theatre, patronized by, among others a local architect Anand, and Shama Zaidi. Wonder if you ever ran into Vidya Sagar, a painter who used to hang around when the theatre group rehearsed at Shankar Market. Vidya Sagar later followed us to London, where he found a job at India House (as lift operator, I believe). My recall of Vidya Sagar was that of romantic dreamer, who was intensely in love with someone. I credit him with this self-serving quote, “Being in love is a 24-hour job; it’s impossible to be in love and do much else at the same time”.

Years later when I was posted as the Times of India correspondent in Bhopal I had a call from Sagar saying he was in town as a guest of Bharat Bhavan that invited noted artists and performers to conduct workshops. Sagar was still in London doing well as an artist, and, presumably, out of love.

O V Vijayan: You know, Kini, a website set up to celebrate our cartoonists and their work, doesn’t have any mention of Vijayan in its homage to a few greats in cartooning. The website, CartoonistsIndia.com, has been set up at the initiative of a CEO whose last name rhymes with yours, Ashok Kheny, Incidentally, they pay tribute to Abu, who was a cartoonist at the London Sunday Observer. He used to frequent India Club, at Strand, for lunch, usually a Southie thali. Soft-spoken, pipe-smoking Abu Abraham had a pleasing personality. As someone in the higher editorial echelon of a mainstream Fleet St. paper Abu was my career role model.I was introduced to him by Iqbal Singh of Patriot, as a misguided youngman who had given up a govt. job (at the Press Information Bureau) to come to London. That was a pretty factual, if unflattering introduction,I thought.

Najmul Hasan: An old friend and colleague, first at The National Herald and, years later, at TOI, with a flair things artistic. For a reporter Najmul had connection with officials, politicians and others who usually had media dealings with special correspondents (a higher reporter breed). In later years Najmul (I heard he is no more) and I fell out, never to patch up, over misunderstanding on something I now find silly.

Kini writes that 50 odd friends and well-wishers gathered at New Delhi railway station as he set out on his hitch-hike to London in 1964. In contrast, three years later, I had this lone friend, Sushil Nangia who turned up in front of Waterloo station on that sunny morning when I left London for good in a 12-seater van, at the start of our overland trip to India. It was May 3, 1967. Have you met my friend Nangia, Kini ?

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