Thursday, September 3, 2015

Get Set to Experience The Magic Of Sex

My caution note:
When it came up my journalistic alley, I thought it was my editor-friend Ajay Kumar's, (Group Editor State Times) ploy to sell a magazine called Supremacy with sex on its mind. But what it turned out to be in the end, confounded me. I was circumspect abut how I would be able to treat the net-based raw input he sent me. Read on & tell me if it makes sense, or is it lewd and needs to be deleted post-haste

"Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul."
Oscar Wilde
Scenario I.
The legendary Mirabai was so deeply conjoined in spiritual union with Lord Krishna through her bhakti and bhajans that she forgot about the existence of her worldly responsibilities and about the existence of her consort. It is believed that her incensed husband suspected her of moral turpitude. However misleadingly, he thought his wife had immorally given her body and soul to the God of her understanding without his consent.
Scenario II:
In his rocking theological thriller Da Vinci Code, when bestselling author Dan Brown talks about pagan rites and rituals that shrouded the existence of Jesus Christ’s female half Mary Magdalene, he exposed the soft underbelly of Judeo-Christian faith and opened up the possibilities of Christ being a married man. This evoked strong reactions among conservationists who felt that the author was evoking the Goddess of Sex to ensure the success of his novel.

The word ‘Sex’ continues to trigger the most formidable response among human beings. It is at once mysterious, mystical and foreboding. Sex conjures up different image in different people. In its most sublime form, it is but a manifestation of Godhead, and in its most base form, it stirs the beast within us. This article makes an attempt to unravel this mystic knot and shows you how to experience the true magic of sex.
Sex magic is neither new nor outrageous; although usually kept secret many esoteric systems use sexuality for spiritual and magical aims. The ancient traditions and its various manifestations in visible form are witchcraft, shamanism, alchemy, Buddhist and Hindu Tantra and ancient Egyptian religion.
A more known form of sex magic is the ceremonial sexual union of man and woman on the land to ensure a good crop. Their act of fertility ostensibly encourages the land to bring forth a rich harvest. This ancient practice is still resorted to, by many tribes in Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh as also in some other rural out backs of the country.
Western sex magic, on the other hand, has its roots in Hebrew kabala and it spread further through several occult doctrines like the Knights Templar, The order of The Rosicrucian and the Freemasons.
In present-day terms sex magic is a beautiful way of giving it back its due as sacred sexuality. It is a firm invitation to leave the trail of the sneaky, hidden-in-the-dark and 'sinful' sex most of us have grown up with. It is a call to stop fighting this most powerful human force and to make use of its immense possibilities.

Since sexuality is a gift from God, the Goddess, by natural extension, has to be divine. Within an open and respectful sexual relationship we can experience ourselves in all aspects: the animal part, the human part and the divine flame within. Thus, the beast-man-God is connected, as strongly as the beast-woman-Goddess. During sexual arousal, an enormous amount of energy can be channeled upwards from the genitals along the spine to the top of the head. On its way up, this energy fills and cleans blockages in the ‘chakras,’ caused by emotional and psychological wounds. This explains why several spiritual paths view sexual yoga as a shortcut to enlightenment.

When the magic of sex enters the head, it turns into an all-consuming spiritual experience, suggests this painting by Gustav Klimt

Why use sex for magical aims?
The force of creation itself invokes a very powerful magic. Secondly it is the most pleasurable magic one can do. The strong sexual force is the 'raw oil of our body' (the Kama Salila) as Lama Yeshe stated.
Several practitioners of sex magic reported that this form of magic turned out to be much stronger then the ceremonial magic they had practiced before. Sex magic does not require any previous knowledge or understanding of ceremonial magic. Anyone who is dedicated to controlling and directing his or her sexual energies for magical work, and who has a reasonable physical condition, is deemed fit to perform sex magic.
However, if you don't feel strongly attracted to sex magic, simply don't do it! And never let someone force you into sex magic against your will. Practicing sex magic does in no way imply that you have to give up sex for pleasure. It is entirely up to you to decide how much sex you wish to use for magical rituals and how much in having a good time with yourself or your partner.
Theory behind sex magic
In magic, we manipulate a certain amount of energy into a desired direction; for that we specify a goal, raise energy level and point it into the wished direction (release the energy) to achieve a manifestation in our physical reality.
The goal in sex magic can be the achievement or attraction of anything wished in the physical world, like a new house, a better relationship or a healing. It can also be the charging of magical tools or talismans. And the goal can be spiritual development.
This controlled form of love-making for higher goals is often mentioned as the ultimate manifestation of necromancer Alistair Crowley’s famous statement "Love is Law, Love under Will." By love, mystic Crowley meant the union of the opposites, masculine and feminine, active and receptive, and not so much as romantic love.
The ultimate goal in a sex act is Orgasm. And orgasm by inference is considered to be the moment when 'the gates of heaven open up'; for a while the barriers between the restricted physical world and the limitless heavens dissolve. During the precious orgasmic moments we swing away our magical desire into the universe with enormous power and a 'magical child' is born. This magical child is the astral effect of our magical action that will result in manifestation. The sexual fluids of man and woman are charged with powerful qualities because of their unalloyed magic and they can be used for varying purposes.
Sexual spirituality depicted on the Khajuraho Temple, India
What types of sex can be used for sex magic?
In fact, any sexual activity can be used to work sex magic. It can be practiced alone, it can be practiced with a partner of the same sex or of the opposite sex, and in advanced state, and it is also possible to work with more people. But, a group sex magic ritual is never an excuse for a sexual orgy!
It is a strong ritual in which several people dedicate their sexual forces towards a mutual goal. Magic is synergistic, which means that the power conjured up is geometric (1, 2, 4,8,16, etc., so a ritual with four people gives the energy of eight separate people!)
You would do well to remember that in no way is this an invitation to ever do a group ritual in your life unwanted, nor does it mean that joining a group ritual implies that you should also have sex with more than one partner in your personal love life. You can include all forms of sex in your ritual; it can be genital, oral or anal sex; it can be bondage, bizarre sex or whatever; as long as all partners included enjoy it and agree that it’s okay and acceptable.
Does sex magic feel different from regular sex?
In sex magic we concentrate on the ritual, while in regular sex we concentrate on the fantastic physical sensations and intimate togetherness. Sex magic rituals feel very pleasurable but they do feel different. They are simply that much more intense. A much greater amount of sexual energy is built up, mainly because when you reach the brink of orgasm you back off to later on resume arousing. This leads to a stronger felt orgasm.
And while repeating the chosen affirmation during intercourse, you send up energy from the genitals to the head, so you constantly send bits of genital excitement 'away' upwards along your spine to be stored till the moment of orgasm. By concentrating on your goal you extend the moment of orgasm and reach a trance-like state.
At times it has been noticed that halfway through the ritual, one can feel the magical energy working. A large amount of hot energy could be felt along the spine and the ‘chakras’ in the head, and in the crown ‘chakra’ you experience the feeling of a wide opened chalice or lotus flower.
The flow of this energy can cause huge tremors or shivers or even lead to emotional unloads like crying, mostly after the orgasm (be prepared for this and let it happen to you or your partner as it clears blockages).
Sex magic orgasms will be intense. And after a ritual with a partner one feels reverent and grateful, realizing that something truly meaningful has been shared. Once the depths and values of sex magic are experienced, it becomes truly difficult to stick to 'normal' sex. Dabble in it or delve deep in it, the choice is yours.

Behind the dangling conversations on social media

Uttam Sengupta

Yesterday at 9:07am · New Delhi · 
When I was RE of TOI at Patna, the Librarian at the British Library, Dipak Goswami, called up one morning and indignantly told me that I should do something about my colleagues, some of whom were despicable he suggested. I was amused and enquired what made him so angry. He was surprised. " Don't you know about the anonymous letter against you that is being circulated," he asked. I confessed my ignorance at which he read out some parts of the letter. It accused me of every possible sin I could have committed as a journalist and made it plain that I deserved to be sacked ! 
I was upset and told him that I would collect the letter on my way to the office. As I put down the phone, my wife gently told me that she would give me a copy of the letter ! Apparently my colleagues had mailed the letter to not just her but to every other teacher and the Principal at the school she worked in. I read the letter and my blood boiled. But it was not signed. It carried both lies and half-truths. I could debate and discuss with my colleagues but that would have been a waste of time, I realised. It took me an hour to decide my course of action. I took the letter from my wife, went to office, got the letter enlarged and asked the PA to put it up on the Notice Board. I never heard of it again.
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Chander Mahadev Uttam, you happened to be my boss in the early 90s and I recall many occasions when you were subjected to ridicule if not ignominy. I particularly remember the turbulent time when you were appointed Resident Editor, TOI, Patna, and it came as a shock to us then. Let me hasten to clarify that both my wife and I worked as a ‘demolition squad’ in the Patna TOI Desk and we were working under a particularly moody but brilliant Editor Sumanta Sen. I say shocking because he was slated to continue as RE despite the fact that his term was getting over. Morever, the grapevine was abuzz with stories that an India Today State Correspondent (referring to you, of course) was no match to Sumanta Da.
And lo behold, when you joined TOI, you were subjected to further humiliation when you were not allowed to sit in the Editorial office on the second floor since the present incumbent was firmly ensconced in his chair, so to speak. You then earned the unflattering sobriquet of Ram Sundar Das, the eternal dissident. Having recently shifted base from Varanasi Pioneer, we two were blissfully unaware of the political machinations that Patna was infamous for. However, let me also candidly confess that jurnos in Bihar were a much more ethical lot than what I had been privy to, in UP. 

When you finally joined as RE, your nervous energy to unravel the truth behind every story was not acceptable to say the least. Soon after you joined Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated and I was the Edition in-charge during the night shift. We strongly differed on the way the story needed to be handled and I got the impression that you were a pro-Congress jurno. It took me over a month to settle down with you as my boss but your honesty and journalistic excellence was never in doubt. Actually, you were too young to be perceived as an Editor, or so some colleagues may have thought. Your being a Reporter added fuel to the 'proverbial' fire as far as some.of the.local TOI jurnos were concerned, and that could have.lead to the launch of a spineless smear campaign that you talk of. Anyway, if memory serves me right, you brought in columnists like Frank Krishner, Subhash Jha & Payal Kumar, which further complicated matters. You also were close to politician Saryu Rai, and he would be in your office for days on end. But.little did we colleagues realise that you were working on the biggest news break of your life--the Lallu Yadav fodder scam.

The invincible maverick was forced to demit office and you came to be seen as one of the most revered journalists. While it became fashionable to be in Uttam's good books many secretly plotted your doom. You then took over as Resident Editor, Lucknow and your fearless brand of journalism won you many accolades. I lost touch with you as both Maddie and I shifted base to Delhi and over a decade later we re-established contact with you. Ever since, we have been communicating on social media but today I can say if there is one journalist I know who wrote the first draft of history better than most, it is you Uttam Sengupta. As a parting thought, I always wonder why a brilliant journalist like you could never realise my true potential. But my wonder-lust is based on honest sharing. Great way to go, Uttam
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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

CM: A Genius Gone Astray?

‘Nobody likes a Red Pen, except maybe a teacher…’ Chander Mahadev
Not everyday was a red-letter day, for someone like me but today was more pleasingly so. Sharp, caring yet always a prisoner of my habits if not imagination, I was pleasantly stunned when a cheerful, committed and a boldly beautiful young counselor Anshika almost used the G word to describe me and why was I not able to control and correct one of my seemingly incurable habits. I immediately realized how red and black always had an overpowering impact on my life, every step of the way. For me, life then had a red ring to it in every which way. . As a child in Delhi, Nizamuddin the first seemingly holy sight that greeted me in the morning was my mother artfully weaving in a vermillion paste in the parting of her beautiful long flowing silken black mane. She would then dot the middle of her forehead with the same ethereal red as if to celebrate her fertility if not her virtuosity as a wonderfully caring mother.  
The next brush with red would be just as we siblings stepped on to the flaming red Bouganvillas & Jacarandas that blessed our dew-drenched boulevard down to Jaipur Estate, the haven for hot-shot foreign diplomats whose spank driveways would flaunt blood-red muscle monsters like Mustangs and Jaguars that represented a faraway unattainable world for us lowly third world mortals. Even the fist school play I got selected to act in, was the bad wolf in Red riding Hood. My favorite creature too was Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer or else it was the red-nosed comic book heroes Pinocchio or the red-costumed Superman. Was it a symbolical representation for my passion for life I never could say.
Hues of red attracted me albeit compulsively all through my life. Whether it was the desire to smoke hash or dope all through the day, and my red, blood-shot eyes became the headlights  of my existence.  I had thought if I smoked the Sufi elixir of life in downtown Nizamuddin, it would make me a great writer. How, I never knew. Later, in college my deep fascination for the hammer and the sickle, ensnared by the Red Salaam held out the promise of reaching MY promised  land.
These observations apart, I have been prone to wonder  whether I was the genius gone astray, the misanthrope nobody wished to understand, the creature brought up on a heady diet of  pop culture; that  could well be me or what has become of me. Having tasted rock music at an early age, smoking or toting dope in the early 70’s, and the heady aura  of the Hippie generation introduced me to the renegade poet’s  magic. The deviant in me got  enamoured by  the strains of Bob Dylan strumming 'It’s a hard rains gonna fall', and Leonard  Cohen droning about the mystical, magical maid  called Suzanne, I verily thought it  was the great Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamudddin Aulia's mystical messages reworked. In other words, he is the best English Ghazal singer I have ever heard. Yes indeed I was proud of the Bum Shankar strains of soulful Hindu  bhakti songs and elevating bhajans, the brilliant strains of MS Subbalakshmi’s  Vishnu Sahasranamam playing over mom’s transistor in the puja room, punctuated by the rather hoary daily muznaian’s call for the morning namaaz at the Nizamuddin basti  masjid.
 The year was 1962, barely eight years of age and these were the first memories stored in the recesses of my head   even as  we three siblings got ready for our daily tryst with international education in Delhi, the capital of free India, a co-educational public school. I was  always  distracted and defused about my cross-cultural love for  my secular Indian credentials, but love it I did. Being the oldest of three, Aku my brother was a year younger followed by my sister Lilly, yet another year younger, I had to shepherd the two on our two km daily walk to school from our two-room tenement in upmarket Nizamuddin East .

To be continued…

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Dynamics Behind Why Content Is King


If someone tells me content is king, then my heart puffs up with pride and I naturally feel like a king From generating content for over four decades to attaining yogic contentment in one life-time, my journey has been a beautifully rewarding one. One of my Team Leaders & former Editors at Manya Princeton Review Payal Kumar warmed my cockles by saying that I was a wordsmith endowed with special skills.  Another editorial colleague once remarked that I was the best re-write editor in the whole of Uttar Pradesh.  However, in my heart of heart, I wished he would say I was the best in the country. Now, you may well turn around and ask, why this self-absorbed eulogy? Now let me ask you a real hard question. 
If content is king like Bill Gates had remarked way back in 1996, then how is it that most content generators, journalists, script writers and creative artistes still feel like paupers when they look at their bank balances? The answer I think is that destiny if not somebody else created (software) content for Bill Gates so that he in turn could become the information technology icon of the century. With a name like Gates, and an enticingly named software company called Microsoft, he threw open his ‘Windows’ of opportunity. He then opened the ‘flood-Gate’ as it were, to market his wares.   If that is indeed the case, is it content or ‘marketable’ content that is king?
In the early 1970’s I recall a wonderful song composed by a band called Genesis titled ‘Selling England by the Pound’. I loved the words of the song and the layered meanings it conveyed. I sub-consciously gloated over the fact that the nation of shop-keepers, as they were odiously called, could sell their country leave alone selling content. Soon, with the proliferation of technology, dawned the I-T sector and with it began the Information Age. We now had a two-way communication model in the internet and as a media analyst I feel this was the greatest invention after the wheel.
As a result of the emergence of the global village and the democratisation of information, the world began to shrink and while western (read English) content continues to dominate, glocal (think global, act local) and not global became the new way to disseminate information across media platforms. With social media firing the public’s imagination, suddenly moth-balled personal photograph albums stashed away at home were re-clicked on mobile phone cameras and posted on social media platforms. Family members and special moments that lay buried in the anonymity of personal photo albums became ‘Liked’ celebrities, in a matter of minutes. 
Suddenly, the man on the street realised, Content is indeed King’. Little dribbles of rhyming verses that most love-lorn youngsters penned for their unrequited love were soon flooding social media sites, transforming youngsters into wannabe poets. This once again proved Gates premise that Content is King. Personal and family video shoots began to go ‘viral’ and suddenly this medical terminology became hip and happening. The more viral your content goes, the more kingly you feel.
Finally, how does the term content is king play out in the media domain. The proliferation of content factories, broadcast channels, news portals, music portals, and cross-media production houses has come to dominate media space.  Today, we find media conglomerates milking the concept of ‘Content is King.’ Let us say that a senior crime reporter covered the gamut of a sensational crime story that stayed in the public domain for days on end, like say the Jessica Lal murder case. Now, let us see how the content dynamics and the scale of economies work.
The media house runs an exclusive reality check on the murder case in its own magazine. The original magazine cover story inspires another journalist to write a book on the subject. The same media house’s publishing arm commissions the writing of the book, which becomes a hit. Now, the same conglomerate decides to make a movie based on the book. The movie is released in the media group’s own multiplex chain and it is declared a box-office grosser. Based on the pre-movie release promotional game show aimed to popularise the cinema as a pre-release promotional exercise,   the company-owned TV entertainment channel decides to launch a reality show to boost TRP ratings.  Considering the movie’s Original Sound Track is making waves, the media house promotes its content on its own FM Radio channel. The most popular lead singer of the hit film now finds her exclusive interview as cover story in the same magazine that published the crime update on the Jessica Lal murder case in the first place. The   content cycle is now complete.

 This cyclic process re-affirms the claim that Content is King. Now, let us assume the Crime Reporter who filed the exclusive update gets a monthly salary of Rs 30,000 a month. Now, let us say it took him five days to research and file the story. In effect, the reporter is paid Rs 1000 a day based on his salary. For five days’ work, he makes Rs 5000. Now, the original content has generated let us say, Rs 300 crore by way of book sales, record sales movie collections, et al. This example will give you a clear idea as to why content is king, and not the original content creator.
That is why I opened my opinion piece saying that I have been searching for yogic contentment even if my bank balance had not swelled in keeping with the ‘marketable content’ that spawned the profit motive for the media conglomerate in the first place.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Truth Behind My ‘Creamy Layer’

The smooth-talking face of the Creamy Layer of Indian politics is once again holding centre-stage.  The indefatigable maverick politician Lalu Prasad is back in the limelight just before the crucial Bihar elections.  I heard him on an NDTV Exclusive with Ravish Kumar last night as he waxed eloquent about how Nitish Kumar is the missile who will mark the re-emergence of the now-fractured Janta Dal Parivar. With a poker face, Lalu used every rustic charm at his command, to convince the anchor about his lily-white-powdered image and his imminent acquittal by the high court. This was his immediate image management agenda which had taken a beating following his conviction by the session’s court in the high-profile fodder scam.
My mind raced back to  the opportunistic caste combinations he and other so-called secularists had stitched  in the ‘90s to change the socio-political  complexion of India forever.  Social engineering became the new buzz, and caste manipulations gained currency in the Indian political scheme of things. The emergence of the MY (Muslim-Yadav) factor as a potent electoral combine and the emergence of B P Mandal with his concept of Other Backward Castes (OBCs) and the homecoming of the Creamy Layer had had me floored.
For most jurnos like me, the concept of the Creamy Layer in politics was hard to stomach. For me, Creamy Layer had altogether different connotations way back during my growing years in the 1960s. My mother would often ask me to surreptitiously buy a bottle of her favourite Charmis Cream or Afghan Snow and smuggle it in and hide it in the last drawer of her dressing table when my grandmother was not looking. While I myself liked taking a scoop of Charmis cream off and on, and rubbing it on my face, I liked the aroma therapy that went behind the cosmetic. Once I applied the cream, albeit surreptitiously, I used to often recall how beauty was not just skin deep.
However, the idea of using Afghan Snow looked repelling to say the least. Resembling a greasy version of Snowcem White wall paint, the snow would paint a yucky white mask on your face, the way Lalu looks today. When I would ask my mother as to why she had to don her ‘Creamy Layer’ in hiding, away from the prying eyes of my grandmother, she would tell me that caste Hindu women could not use make-up since it was the prerogative of nautch girls and film stars. She would shame-facedly  reveal that dark-haired and dark-faced South Indian ladies had no choice but to use Afghan Snow to look passably ‘white’ in north Indian Delhi. So, I turned to my mother and asked her why many of my peers called me Madrasi, or Kaalu, she looked at me with shame in her heart.Holding back tears, she sighed: ‘We are condemned to be the butt of ridicules since we are from the south.’ Now, I understood the real reason behind my mother’s secret desire to be one among the ‘creamy layer.’ Ever since that day, the term creamy layer became anathema to my tormented soul.
One day one of my more well-groomed cousins who studied in Delhi University came home. There was a glint in her eyes even as shared with my mother that she had brought something special to improve my mother’s skin tone. Pulling out from her cloth bag was a sinister looking tin packet of talcum powder grandly called Remy powder. She excitedly whispered in my mom’s ears that south Indian actresses managed to look fair and lovely, using this magic potion. I was aghast by my cousin’s sheer insensitivity.
I then realised how our women-folk themselves secretly yearned to be purveyors of the creamy layer school of beauty. The fact that my sister was fair only heightened the racist overtones that are deeply embedded in middle-class Indian families. Now, can you blame me if I despise the term Creamy Layer?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Two Pikus who impacted my life!

Two Pikus who impacted my life!
Two Pikus impacted my life, one in the late 60s and early 70s when I ran into a spunky, short-haired pretty lass who went by the name of Piku! I was very impressed with her Bohemian ways and we often sat down and talked about the Flower Power generation, the designer drugs and the great music we were privy to, then. Those were the heady Nizamuddin days when life meant endless chillums, music, and book-reading sessions interspersed with occasional acid trips. Seema Ahmad’s (her real name) father was a brilliant IAS officer who was an eminent historian to boot. When we used to visit her house in Moti Bagh area of Delhi we had to answer Mr. Ahmad’s history questions or else we were denied entry. I used to think he was like the Open Sesame mantra in Ali Baba’s 40 Thieves of Baghdad. He unwittingly helped me enhance my knowledge base and the more interesting fact that Piku was from Lucknow.  He was also the examiner for IAS exams but such things hardly bothered Piku. I also recall her brother Javed was the police chief of Mumbai. Both Piku and thoughts of Lucknow ceased to capture my imagination and I never thought she would come back in my life, but she did, through a ‘celluloid’ door. I could say ‘Memory you hold the key.’

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My Tribute To (S)Punky Varma

Photo courtesy: Pablo Bartholomew. Gautam Varma is on the extreme left.
It has been almost one week since I got the shocking news that my dear friend (S)Punky Varma is no more. When I heard that he died unknown and unsung in a Wardha hospital, in Gujarat, I was shocked into silence. One of my first reactions was one of utter shock and dismay. My mind race and I immediately recalled his famous one-liner: 'God is all geometry.' I couldnt but help smile. His style, his swagger and his persona reminded me of a rare combination of Bob Dylan & the protagonist of J.T Edson's Dusty Fog, of which he was a self-confessed fan. During 1975, when the country was shrouded in the veil of Internal Emergency, thanks to the late PM Indira Gandhi; he was instrumental in making me meet his father, the right earnest Dr Ravindra Varma. I was hugely inspired by the brilliant LSE graduate and politician, and I got involved in the Restoration for Democracy movement.
Dr Ravindra Varma was a close associate of the late Morarji Desai, and both Punky and I worked for an underground newspaper called the Subterranean Sun. The underground tabloid was funded by 50 MPs from the House of Lords. Being actively involved with the Lok Sangharsh Samiti, we were instrumental in seeing the birth of the Janata Party. Late Dr Varma, Late PM Morarji Desai, and George Fernandes along with his associates had to spend harrowing days in prison and Punky and I got closer.
When the Janata Party stormed into power in 1977, Dr Varma was appointed Union Minister of Labour and Parliamentary Affairs. It was extremely touching of Dr Varma and Gautam (that was Punky's real name) to offer me a job and work for the minister and  was soon appointed Personal Assistant to the Hon'ble Minister. The next one and a half years, 1977-1979 proved to be the best years of my life. I had the rare privilege of seeing Indian Parliament work fom within.
Being a confirmed pacifist and a child of the Flower Power era, I was deep into using psychedelic drugs. Dr Varma and I started having differences mainly due to my using, and d Punky too was constrained to stay slightly distanced from me. Thanks to Dr Ravindra Varma, who belonged to the Travancore royal family, I had the opportunity to be his mentee and  understudy. He revealed that he left his royal underpinnings to be a part of the freedom struggle and my love and respect for him grew manifold. I also had the rare honour to befriend his first wife Mangala Varma, who was so caring that she helped me to get a plot in what is today known as the high-profile AWHO colony in NOIDA. She was a teacher at the MS Baroda University if memory serves me right.
Once the Janata Party government collapsed in 1979, I never heard from any of the family members and today I recall the wonderful days I had spent at 12, Akbar Road, the official residence of the minister. Today, I can bow my head and thank Punky for giving me the opportunity to live an enriched life in the journalistic arena. I also wish to say that the book reading sessions that Punky, Arvind Thyagaraj, Biraj Khosla and I had were life-changing to say the least. RIP Gautam Varma, you will always have a special place in my heart. Your unconventional and bohemian ways helped me grow into the academician that I am today. Pablo Bartholomew, you and Yusuf Mehta supported me whole-heartedly in my intellectual pursuits and God bless you for all that you have done for me.