A typical Bandra girl with a disciplined upbringing under the strict eye of Roman Catholic nuns, Farida Master moved to the pensioner’s paradise of Pune in the eighties to start the iconic Citadel magazine. One of the biggest sources of inspiration for her was the late Luku Sanyal, the glamorous head of the English Department at Mithibai Motiram College of Commerce, who encouraged the young Farida to take on a leadership role in the Literary and Debating Society of the college.
Article by Monique Patel | Pune365
Post college, she was a cub reporter with Super magazine before moving to an unlikely choice for her of working with the popular Stardust magazine. This Parsi girl was never star struck and assumed it would be a summer job but was soon pulled into the hedonistic world of the dream factory. Her interviews with the glamorous and famous quickly translated into her becoming their friend and confidante. For a young 24-year-old, being a joint editor without betraying their trust was not easy but Farida managed her role with confidence, which is why she was asked to take over as editor of Magna Publishing’s newly minted Pune magazine, Citadel. Strict bed rest, while she was expecting her first child was the catalyst for her move out of Bombay.
In Pune, one of her first interviews was with Cyrus Poonawalla who asked her to drop in anytime. Farida was immediately struck by the down to Earth nature of Punekars as a complete contrast to the world of demi-Gods she had become used to. The people of Pune did not play hard to get and were refreshingly honest and straightforward. She fondly recollects hosting one of the first fun, eligible bachelor parties for a special Valentine’s issue of the magazine, where the city’s young, attractive and successful such as Meher Aga, Phiroz Pudumjee, Amit Pradhan and Sudhir Chadda were invited. Farida was also behind the first citadel extravaganza at the then Blue Diamond Hotel with a rare appearance by Amitabh Bachchan and a spectacular show by some of India’s hottest models. Since she missed the creative high of working with some of the high priests of fashion and photography in the glamour world, Magna group head, Nari Hira gave her the dual responsibility of editing Society Fashion in Mumbai alongside her job as Citadel editor in Pune. After twenty years with Magna Publishing, Jaisurya Das of Times offered her the opportunity to become editor of Pune Times and thus began another exhilarating journey with a different kind of learning curve. However, the non-stop pace of working resulted in burn out after four years and an opportunity for her spouse in New Zealand meant Farida bade goodbye to a city she had grown to love.
She often questions why she left because her heart still belongs to Pune. It was possibly a sense of adventure, a leap of faith, pushing her boundaries, supporting her spouse in his quest for a better quality of life or maybe a bit of all. New Zealand was a new challenge. She started out with “Aucklander” magazine, part of New Zealand’s largest selling newspaper and after seven years got the opportunity to pen a biography of a UK based woman. Currently, Farida is the news editor of Botany and Ormiston Times newspaper.
Pune is never too far from her mind and she misses her long-standing relationships and the warm friendships she had forged during the period she considers the ‘best years of my life.’ Farida thinks she was blessed with her time in Pune and often feels the urge to kiss the soil of the city that brought so many beautiful people into her life.
Monika Patel – Monique to her friends – is now a permanent resident of New York City, but her heart is permanently in Pune, her home for 28 years. Monika’s Musings appears every Saturday on Pune365.