26 February, 2021

My Friend Behram

For over thirty years, his wise counsel and feather humour taught Bombay to laugh and think

My Friend Behram
Where to begin? I am cursed in the sense that I lack the gift for friendship. To characterise me as a loner would be unfair, but friends I do not easily make. Among the three I can count, one is gone. Two is a lonely number.

Behram Contractor (also Mario Miranda) was part of my luck in the Bombay of the '70s. As the outcaste editor of Debonair, I was the journalistic equivalent of chicken pox. Busybee was already famous even though the Old Lady of Bori Bunder hosted Khushwant Singh, Sham Lal, Girilal Jain, R.K. Laxman, Prem Jha, Inder Malhotra.... Desperate for professional and appropriate social companionship, I thought being seen with Busybee would give me a leg-up. I rode him shamelessly. Went to parties with him. Dropped his name. Invited him out in the hope that others would then accept my hospitality. I don't know whether knowing me did him any good, but I profited enormously.

We were both hard bachelors. He was the fast-drinking, low-life supremo of the city of gold and I was supposed to be the editor of India's Playboy with all the attendant perks. While his...

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