27 January, 2021

Of Dust, Of Light

That vaguely purposeful man in that dank room deserves it all

Of Dust, Of Light

A dusty man in a dusty room. Or, more accurately, two men in a dusty room. One dusty, the other spiffy.

In a way, my first two encounters with the idea of Outlook pretty much adumbrated what the magazine was going to become. The first, with Deepak Shourie, in a swish bar—where he categorically declared he was readying to pulverise a leading publication, whose name I cannot now remember (sorry, Aroon, too difficult to resist!)—the first encounter was all about cool and swank and confidence. The second, in a dusty room of the crumbling, government-owned Lodhi Hotel—where illicit fornicators found refuge on hot afternoons—the second, with Vinod Mehta, was all about earthiness and self-deprecation and a sense of adventure.

In that spare room—a hotel bedroom converted into an office—on two plain tables, emptiness separating them, sat the two men. The air was rank, the curtains mouldering, and the light weak. When you walked in from the glare of the veranda it all looked even worse....



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