Obituary – Chandraswami, spiritual political fixer


Chandraswami in his heydays had influence over the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Former Indian Primer Minister PV Narsimha Rao, the Sultan of Brunei etc. But, then came his fall from grace and his final years were spent in obscurity.

As recounted by Mr Singh in his 2012 memoir, Chandraswami, who at the time spoke no English and relied on the diplomat to translate, asked Thatcher to scribble five questions on five separate pieces of paper, then scrunch each into a ball. She grudgingly complied. He then asked her to unfold each chit. As she did, the guru told her the question written there. Her irritation gave way to amazement, and Thatcher peppered him with follow-up questions. She asked for a second meeting, at which, Mr Singh wrote, the two discussed her prime ministerial prospects.

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Amy Kazmim — FT

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Ice driving and horse-sled racing in remotest Mongolia


In the spirit of the weekend, something for the adventurers.

Nobody dies. Nor do the Mongolian festival-goers let the weather cramp their style. We join them in their gers, partaking of their food and drink, feeling safely embedded in a culture where I have seen only four other foreigners in as many days. “Even a good racehorse is kept out in this weather,” says Dorjee, who chats in the blizzard with his friends like I might on a temperate summer day on an English high street. Children play in the storm like New York kids in a summer park. The sculptors are disappointed the weather has ruined their work, but otherwise, not a word of a whine. Not even from me when our flight back to UB is delayed. Instead I find myself wishing the airlines might be grounded for longer than a day.

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Sophy Roberts — FT

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