In all the wide-eyed reporting on the gold tumbling out of the vaults of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum, reporters have (generally) missed out on one delicious fact: the fact, that one of our ilk is married into the erstwhile royal family of Travancore.
That lucky somebody is M.D. Nalapat (left), former resident editor of The Times of India in Bangalore and Delhi, and the eldest of the three sons of the late poet Kamla Das.
‘Monu’—as Nalapat is known—is married to Thiruvathira Tirunal Lakshmi Bayi, the 12th princess of Travancore.
By a happy coincidence both husband and wife have a column on the discovery of humongous caches of gold in Padmanabhaswamy temple in the latest issues of the newsweeklies: Monu in India Today, and Lakshmi Bayi in Outlook.
Despite their extraordinary wealth—the discovery is now valued at between Rs 100,000 crore and Rs 500,000 crore—the erstwhile princess and the commoner had a simple, civil wedding, and the buzz in media circles has long been that it cost them all of Rs 125.
In the late 1980s, Monu, who was then at Mathrubhumi, was at the centre of a share-swap deal with The Times of India, an arrangement through which the English daily was to print from Kerala and the Malayalam daily from Bombay.
Opposition to the deal from Mathrubhumi shareholders led by the paper’s current chairman and managing director M.P. Veerendra Kumar saw the deal crumble. Consequently Monu and his two brothers Chinnen Das and Jayasurya Das were accommodated in The Times.
After leaving The Times, Nalapat is currently a professor of geopolitics at Manipal University and writes a weekly column in M.J. Akbar‘s The Sunday Guardian. For her part, Lakshmi Bayi is a published poet who also played a part in the Mallika Sherawat film, Hisss.