It was way back in 1980 when I first walked into his corner cabin in Indian Express at Express Towers Bombay with my typed article.
Darryl D’Monte was an unconventional editor and most aspiring journalists could meet him without much fuss. And there were many young writers interacting with him.
In those days getting your stories published in major newspapers was a difficult proposition. Darryl, however, was different. He would use stories written by beginners even on the front page of the paper if they were well researched and written.
Imagine your thrill when your story would be flashed on the front page of Indian Express! I did a lot of stories with his encouragement, taking on the mighty and without worrying about the consequences.
Darryl would always encourage young writers to work on stories that were not part of a ‘beat.’ Most of us though were without high-sounding degrees and qualifications, something which bothered Ramnath Goenka, the big boss at Express.
Overnight he cracked down on the new recruits and Darryl was told only those with MA degrees in English could be taken. And the higher ups were also concerned over his selecting longhaired, unkempt youngsters like us.
A committee comprising Arun Shourie, Darryl and Saeed Naqvi interviewed all of us and less than a handful – most of us didn’t even have degrees – were finally chosen. Of course, those who were rejected were also without degrees and were thrown out, but they joined other publications. Many of them emerged as top journalists, heading leading publications. That reflected Darryl’s ability to sense the writing and editing skills of a person.
Sadly, he had to quit Express within a few months and pursued his own ideals.
Darryl belonged to an affluent land owning family in Bandra, but he was always simple and without any arrogance. I remember travelling in crowded suburban trains while going on morning assignments and pleasantly finding Darryl as my co-passenger in the train.
The great journalist and writer, who was 76, passed away yesterday after battling cancer for long.