Vinod Mehta was the quintessential diarist. His taut, anecdotal, gossipy, and sometimes pithy, style of expression was not only limited to his writing, but also to his entire worldview. He never accepted information if it was not embedded with irreverent opinion and embellishment. Vinod would reject what the stuffy intellectual world would weightily describe as “perspective”; he wanted colour.
Although Vinod’s two recent memoirs, Lucknow Boy and Editor Unplugged ran to a few hundred pages, if one takes a careful look at them, they are not long, descriptive narratives, but a running collection of anecdotes, gossip and opinion woven presented with his characteristic turn-of-phrase and uncommon wit he had adapted for the last page of Outlook. In fact, everything he wrote, including his books on Sanjay Gandhi and Meena Kumari, bore this trademark style, an imprint and extension of his journalism.
I joined Outlook in 2004 and have many memories of working with Vinod, and to honour his legacy, here are a few of those memories presented in a manner reminiscent of his anecdotal style.