Arundhati Roy once told me that for an editor to pull skeletons out of the cupboard of the rich and the powerful and put them up for public display, there is an essential prerequisite: the said editor must have no skeletons in his own cupboard.

So, what is the state of my cupboard? Is it half full or half empty? How many skeletons have I removed secretly at the midnight hour? If the answer to that question is to be settled by my word against yours, only confusion will result. Even if an editor has managed to keep his crowded skeleton cupboard away from public scrutiny, the people who need to know, know.

My cupboard is bare, an emptiness which has allowed me to go cupboard- rummaging. If such had not been the case, my record in this area would have been mediocre. As a journalist, part of my mandate is to pontificate and preach. To fulfil this role I have used the Caesar’s wife principle to guide me. Whoever looks after me upstairs made sure when the Devil came to tempt me, and Mr D came several times, I had the courage to say to him, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan.’ I hope that doesn’t sound too self- righteous.

It helps if your attitude towards money is right. Although my background is just about middle class, accumulation of wealth has been at the lower end of my priorities. If I can live in middle- class comfort, buy my dog his favourite cheese, and treat my wife to a classy meal once in three months, I am satisfied. In fact since 1974, when I got my first job at Rs 2500 plus 200 rupees as entertainment allowance per month, I have never felt short.

How does one sum up one’s life with a degree of honesty? I am not an island. At the age of seventy- one, I find my copybook has quite a few transgressions. All of them, I am happy to report, non-cognizable. In my professional career, my copybook is cleaner. I cannot think of a single instance when I have been unfair or gone out of my way to harm a person. Even when I dislike someone, I have given him/her their due.

In the media, among my peers, I know I am not popular. They believe I am a hypocrite, with the phoney boy- scout image of a ‘clean’ editor. It is a ruling which causes me to shed few tears. At the middle and junior levels of the media, I am admired for precisely those traits my peers loathe. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The distinguished writer Philip Roth, announcing his retirement after thirty- one books in a career spanning fifty years, quoted the Afro- American boxer Joe Louis, who said on his retirement, ‘I did the best with what I had.’ Joe Louis’s self- assessment appeals to me. Even if I had a luxury apartment in the Upper East Side of Manhattan and a fancy job at Yale, I wouldn’t want to live in the United States or any other country. For me Nizamuddin East in Delhi in North India in a place called Bharat is home, a place where I want to continue to live and where I wish to die. When I wake up in the morning and open my window, I see part of Humayun’s Tomb, and in the evening I hear temple bells mingling with the faithful being called to prayer. On my way to work, Arab ki Sarai, where Arab workers in the thirteenth century found bed- and- breakfast facilities, stares at me as do the pilgrims going to the dargah of the Sufisaint Nizamuddin Auliya. At the traffic lights I cope as best I can with the shaming sight of children and legless men knocking on cars. It is the only time of the day I feel angry about Delhi.

My late friend the poet Nissim Ezekiel, a Jew, a passionate supporter of the state of Israel who refused to go and settle there because he could not bear to leave his beloved Bombay, a eulogizer of our syncretic culture, wrote a poem thirty years ago which still rings in my ears. It goes:

Confiscate my passport, Lord,

I don’t want to go abroad.

Let me find my song

Where I belong.

 September 2014

Excerpted from Editor Unplugged: Media, Magnates, Netas and Me with permission from Penguin/Viking.