My work as an editor of the two literary magazines did not hold me in Ambala for long. My old boss, Prof L. R. Nair, head of the Punjab Department of Public Relations, left for a higher job in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in Delhi. He was the new Director of Advertising and Visual Publishing (DAVP), Government of India. All Government of India advertisements were designed, produced and released to the Press by his office. In addition, DAVP designed and produced all Government of India pamphlets and posters including those relating to tourism.

After a few months, I followed him to the same Ministry, but in a different Department. A few posts of editors had been advertised for the Publications Divisions of the Government of India through the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and I decided to apply. I had no difficulty getting the job as I had the required experience and immediately moved to Delhi once again close to my parents and brothers. However, the expanding number of family members could no longer be accommodated under one roof, much to the distress of my mother. I rented a house not far from the house owned by my elder brother. We often had meals together. Every Sunday, we brothers and my sister’s family would get together for a meal. It was like Lahore again.

The Publications division was created after independence as a Department of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to produce good books relating to the past and present national leaders, collection of the speeches of current leaders as well as good Hindi and English literature (where private sector was reluctant to invest because of limited sales). For example, The Publications Division launched a Year Book on India, the first of its kind. It contained encyclopaedic information on India and revised every year.

Officially, my job was to edit two magazines, ‘Kurukshetra’ and ‘Gram Sewak, brought out on behalf of the Ministry of Community Development. The Minister in-charge was a dynamic social worker, S. K. Dey, who had bright ideas for the improvement of the rural sector. The Chief Editor of these magazines was D. Raghwan and I worked under his directions. He was supposed to remain in close touch with the Minister and other officers the Ministry of the Community Development while I looked after the editorial and production aspects of the magazine. We complimented each others work. Mr Raghavan, 25 years senior to me, was a generous man and he gave me full credit for what I did and helped me in getting other interesting and exciting assignments.

What was Community Development? Initially funded by the World Bank, under its Community Development Programme in India, a term often used by Americans for the welfare of the common people in a country. India was divided into blocks with Block Development Officers (BDOs) in-charge for all-round development of the rural countryside. The programme was aimed at informing the villages about the new products and techniques in the field of agriculture and to enhance productivity and to bring about prosperity to the villages of India. This was a time when India had a tremendous shortfall of food production in the country and had to beg for food from the Americans.

The New Ministry did good work in awakening the sleepy countryside. The two magazines brought out by us played a significant role as these two journals reached every block Department Officer and thousands of village level workers under their charge read them.

Beyond my own work, the Publications Division that I joined in 1955 fascinated me for my own development and growth. It was a place where the Government had recruited the top literary talents of the country. They were easily accessible to me any time of the day as they all worked for this Division. I could meet them, exchange ideas, seek their guidance and admire their wit and humour. Josh Malehabadi, the great Urdu poet also popularly known as the Poet of Revolution was the editor of the Urdu monthly AJKAL, assisted by another eminent Urdu poet Arsh Malsiani. I had read Josh's poems as a student and was a great admirer of his poetry relating to the independence of India. Josh was a Muslim of Uttar Pradesh and at the time of partition was all set to migrate to Pakistan in view of the hatred that followed the division of India. However, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru personally selected him for the editorship of the new Urdu magazine to be published by the Publication Division. After a few years in India, Josh did migrate to Pakistan. The Pakistan Government allotted his family some cinema halls in Karachi which previously had Hindu owners. A few years later, visiting friends found that Josh was a disappointed man in Pakistan as promises made to him were not honoured and lack of freedom to express himself affected his poetry.

When an old friend from India met him in Pakistan and asked him – what had happened to Pakistan? He answered with a meaningful smile - Islam has happened to Pakistan! At that time Pakistan was ruled by a ruthless dictator and Josh was silenced.

Also, at the Publications Division were some well-known Hindi writers whose books I had read as a student. Chandragupta Vidyalankar was a short story writer and Manmath Nath Gupta, a Bengali revolutionary, who had earned a name in Hindi literature were also editors. I was really lucky to have met the writers whom I had read in my text books in school days.

Among the English writers I admired in this club of the literary men, was Khushwant Singh, then in his late forties. I had read his novels and books of short stories and admired his simple, straightforward and honest prose. Khushwant Singh had joined the Publication Division as Editor of the ‘Yojana’ – a weekly English magazine launched by the Planning commission to inform people about the developments in rural India. I came in close touch with him as I used to write stories suitable for his Weekly in addition to my job in the other two magazines. He had a great capacity to laugh at himself and at others. His conversation was dotted with interesting anecdotes and witty stories. We would talk on all subjects from literature to contemporary politics, office affairs and women. Generally, Khushwant was the storyteller – he had remarkable memory and hearing from him the idiosyncrasies of Krishna Menon, the former Defence Minister who was his former boss in India High Commission in London was great fun.

The Director of the Publication Division at that time was not a literary man – he was a simple person called Mohan Rao with expertise in production of books. One day, he walked into the room of Khushwant Singh to ask him whether he was comfortable in his new office. Khushwant Singh’s room was small and crowded with his Secretary and his table with typewriter, etc. Pointing towards his car parked opposite his room - which was a large imported vehicle, he told Mohan Rao with a mischievous smile on his face,“ I think I will be more comfortable in my car and my stenographer too can sit there.”

Mohan Rao did not realise the sarcasm in his remarks, thought seriously for a couple of minutes and then replied with equal seriousness, “ No, Mr, Singh it will not look nice you sitting and working from your car “.

We had a good laugh as Mohan Rao left.

Among other editors of English in the Publications Division was Sharda Prasad who rose to be Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's Press Advispr and speech writer. Sheila Dhar, a classical singer herself, was a good writer in English on classical music and history. She wrote a children's Book on History of India which is still popular. Sheila Dhar was a very witty person and could make fun of everthing in life. Every Director of the Publications Division – whether literary or prosaic was charmed by her and spent more time in her company than anyone else and insisted that we say everything in her presence to our amazement and embarrassment at times. They liked her company and capacity to put things in an interesting way. When Khushwant Singh joined the Publications Division, Sheela Dhar transferred lot of her attention to him.

It is difficult to recount the amazing variety of talented people that we had in the Publication Division at that time. All I can say is that it was an exciting time and place for me to be in. I loved knowing and interacting with so many of the leading contemporary writers and editors of the country representing almost all the languages of India. Those were the days when I really looked forward to going to my office which I often described as a Literary Club. Although busy with my own editing work, the environment around gave me extra energy and motivated me to do creative writings..

An opportunity came in the shape of a publisher from Aligarh. He asked me to write a children's book to be entered into a competition organised by the Government of India. The Government offered a cash award to the successful author and a large order for the purchase of the book to the publisher. There was also the possibility of commercial sale of the book and if this happened, the author would get royalty also. The competition was for all the national languages of India including Hindi and English.

I wrote the book in Hindi first and it contained twenty-five short stories for children. I had written stories for children in the past which had been published but writing a full book with 25 stories was a new experience for me- a young writer. Much to my surprise, my book was the winner in the category of children's books in Hindi that year. A cash award was announced and my name was there in all the newspapers of India. Besides, it established my reputation in the office for original writing. In today's context, the cash award may look small, but suffice it to say it enabled me to buy a plot of land in Chandigarh on which we built a house later where this autobiography has been written.

While I was accepting the congratulations for this award, an offer came from another well-established publisher, M/s Orient Longmans, to write a text-book on Social Studies for the higher secondary students of Punjab. The Punjab Education Department had revised the syllabus of Social Studies after independence for high schools too . During the British Raj, history, geography and related subjects were taught with focus on how the British changed India. Now, the focus was on world history, Indian history and the Indian Constitution. It was a massive challenge to be completed in six months.

I had already some experience in writing textbooks on Social Studies in Punjab during my tenure with Punjab Government in Shimla. I had done such books for class six, seven and eight and all of those books had been accepted by the Punjab Government. Later, these books were nationalised and I continued receiving royalties from the Government for many years till they replaced my books with others.

I did not like the style of traditional text books with notes and boring facts to be memorised by young students. I approached the subject from a new angle. I rewrote each topic with stories and narrated facts in a story-telling style to keep the young readers interested in learning and understanding their own country. I tried to explain how each civilisation developed into their contemporary environments. On the history side, I focussed on key players in the making of history. The publisher did a very good job of producing this 800 page book.

The book – Man And His World – in Hindi was not prescribed as a formal text book for reasons not known to me – but the book became a recommended reading, and reached a select readership and the libraries.

As I finished the ‘Man and His World’, I was told by my Aligarh publisher that the children's book competition had become an annual affair. He wanted me to do another book for children but this time in Punjabi. Although I am not a Punjabi language writer in the strict sense of the word, I decided to do a general knowledge book for children titled “Our Punjab.” It was intended to inculcate in Punjabi children a pride in their own state, language, and culture. This book too got me cash award and the publisher got a purchase order.

The following year I was ready for the competition with a new book in English called 'Our India'. This too got me an award. Then I was told that no author was allowed to win more than three times in this competition.

Thus ended my contribution to children's literature. For me to write, there always had to be an incentive plus a deadline.

These prizes and awards enhanced my reputation in the Publications Division. My services were asked for in different publication areas and by other senior editors. One of these areas was tourism. A Department of Tourism had been set up by the Government of India in the late 1950s. The Publications Division was asked to produce guide books on the tourist attractions of India as well as a monthly journal titled “Traveller in India”. The editor-in-charge of this cell in the Publications Division sought my services for editing the magazine as well as for researching and writing the guide books.

Seeing new places and writing about them fascinated me and I accepted the assignment. As the editor of the new journal, I was invited by owners of five star hotels to visit them and write about their facilities. Luxury accommodation, gourmet cuisine, shimmering swimming pools and tennis courts were an entirely new experience for this lower middle class refugee from Lahore.

This exposure and some extra reading helped me to explain the facilities available for tourists in the guide books. I also collected material, especially on Kashmir, for inclusion in the ‘Traveller in India’. As compared to my other colleagues, I could now talked like an expert on tourism and hotels as well as western cuisine.

Writing for the newly created Department of Tourism brought me in close touch with its first Director General, S. N. Chib. Mr. Chib was a Cambridge University graduate and had at one time been Professor of English in Dayal Singh College, Lahore prior to my years in that College . He had left the College to join All India Radio two years before I joined the College, but his reputation as a teacher persisted. This created a bond between us and I treated him with the respect due to any of my old teachers. A few sessions with Mr Chib talking about tourism and its economic impact and I was convinced that India would benefit greatly by promoting international tourism. I also realised the problems of the government in finding the resources for promoting tourism. In the minds of politicians tourism meant 'luxury' and ‘elitist’ activity - this was really not something that the politicians of Gandhian views wished to be seen as supporting (at least - not in public).

In due course my association with writing and production of literature for tourism promotion drew me into a job promoting international tourism itself. Tourism promotion for India had begun in a small way in the early 1950s under the aegis of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. However, a full-fledged Department of Tourism was established only in 1958. Mr.S. N. Chib had been associated with tourism activities for several years as a Deputy Secretary in the Government of India. He had pioneered the idea and was appointed the first Director General of the newly created Department.

Four posts of Directors were created and advertised through the Union Public Service Commission. My Director in the Publications Division, Mohan Rao told me to apply for the post of Director of Publicity in Tourism Department- he thought I was eminently fit for that.

I was called for an interview for the job. I was nervous as I was not a widely travelled man and this was an essential qualification for the job. Among the applicants were some candidates with foreign education, travel and knowledge of foreign languages. However, I could prove my interest in tourism by inviting the attention of Chairman on what I had written and produced for tourism. To test my practical knowledge, the Chairman asked me a question.

A group of American tourists plan to visit India on a holiday. Where will you take them in India? In response, to highlight the fact that I understood tourism practices in depth, I requested more details. How many days are they holidaying in India? Do they have any special interests? What is their budget? Can they travel by air? Before I could add more questions, the Chairman interrupted to say that the tourists have tons of money; they can even charter planes and have no particular interest. They just want to see India and have good time here.

After recommending Delhi and Agra, I moved to Varanasi as the next stop. Here, the members of the selection panel began a discussion among themselves. One member did not want Varanasi to be included in the itinerary. Varanasi as the city, according to him , was unhygienic and dirty and he did not think foreigners should be exposed to it. It would spoil India's image, he argued. The other member disagreed on the grounds that Varanasi familiarised foreigners with the Indian tradition, culture and Hinduism in action on the banks of the Ganga river. While they discussed the issue amongst themselves, I could relax and gathered my thoughts to explain the itinerary further.

However, the Chairman moved to other questions relating to the number of foreigners visiting India at that time and how their number could be increased? I was adequately briefed about these statistics as these were often the subjects we discussed when I, as an editor, met the officers of Tourism Department. As the interview ended and I rose to say thanks, I knew I was in. The selectors seemed happy with my performance.

I thanked God I was one of the chosen candidates! This brief interview changed my career, life style, speech and broadened my outlook. From a shy Indian boy brought up in the streets of Lahore, I would become a well-travelled Indian able to mix with tourism professionals of other countries. Of the 25 years I spent with the Department of Tourism, I was overseas for 16 years. I worked in three continents (Europe, Asia and the Americas) while my travels took me to the other two also.

I may be one of the 'travellingest' man in India and still travelling at 80. I am writing this chapter in New Zealand - 10,000 miles from my Indian home.