(This story was first published on 9 March 2015 and has been reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark Vinod Mehta’s death anniversary.)Intellectuality is so often the refuge of second-rate writers, and Vinod Mehta had no need for it. Delhi’s political scholars wished to imagine that he was simple, but what he was in reality was interesting. It was an accident of personality, a consequence of a charmed bachelorhood in Bombay, his delinquency and an inescapable interest in everything around him, especially the little things.The tourist from Bombay who was in love with the intellectual gas chambers of Delhi, Vinod Mehta, when he stood in his circles drinking, regarded a conversation as purely just that, not a peacock dance, not a marking of territory – no wonder he was an odd man in Delhi. It is somehow appropriate that Delhi’s air should kill him.Reacting to the news of his death, the popular columnist Swapan Dasgupta tweeted, “Vinod Mehta loved gossip: it made 4 his facile political understanding. But he knew what lay reader liked on a lazy day: sex & irreverence.”While this does not diminish my respect for Mr Dasgupta, I have to point out that the inaccuracy of this graceless tribute is instructive. In the Delhi of Mr Dasgupta, complexity, which is often ambiguity expressed by a bore, is misunderstood as sophistication; an outsider’s distant view of the inner circle is perceived as naïve, and an editor’s intellectual revolt against news hierarchy is viewed as lowbrow.I was twenty four when Outlook hired me in Bombay, and my first meeting with Vinod Mehta was bizarre. He met the Bombay staff in the bureau. He asked the business correspondent what she was working on. As she launched into an impressive reply he asked her to switch on the air conditioner. Then he left the room. We waited. He did not come back, he had left. I thought this was a man who did not know how to speak, a type for whom I had much sympathy. But then I saw him on television and I was perplexed – he knew how to speak, it seemed.Even though he wished to sack me at least once in the first months after I joined the magazine, his view changed enough for me to ask for a raise now and then, which he never gave, stingy as he was. He did take me out to lunch once, to a restaurant in Delhi, and I was surprised when he served a spoon of the side dish on to my plate. I do not know if it was a moment of affection or if he was trying to end the lunch fast. Now that he cannot deny it, I am going to claim affection.There is a confused memory of an incomplete conversation with him. I had just broken the story of Narendra Modi’s infamous midnight meeting with senior bureaucrats a day before the Gujarat riots began. I received a call from Mr Mehta who chatted about the story, its source, and then he asked if some of the victims of the riots in refuge camps had “exaggerated” a few things. I told him that when I had tried to pursue some of their claims I did feel that there were exaggerations.I don’t know why he asked me that question. After he hung up I sensed a big story that went against the tide and pitched the exaggerations as a cover story. But he rejected the pitch saying that the right wing would use it to project all acts of barbarity as exaggerations. Even today I do not know if I agree with his decision.Many years later, when I became an editor myself, the Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif would ask me a deep question. “So you’re an editor because? Because you are good at managing those below you, or those above you?”I know that Mr Mehta was not an exceptional manager of those below him. It was not hard to love him still. He must have been good at managing those above him, but I don’t know. What I know is that his passing makes me wish, once again, that there be ghosts.(Manu Joseph is the author of the novel, The Illicit Happiness of Other People. He is on Twitter @manujosephsan.) We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.