Adil completed his primary education at the Cathedral and John Connon School in 1956. He then attended the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London from 1957–58. Later, he studied at University College, Oxford, receiving his M.A. in 1964.
Adil worked briefly as a substitute teacher for the Greater London Council, then became a language teacher at the EF International Language Centre; a post he held until 1969. He then returned to Mumbai, where he taught at several colleges, becoming a lecturer in English language and literature at St. Xavier's College in 1972.
Adil was an Honorary Fellow of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in 1976. After that, he focused on journalism, serving as the book review editor at The Indian Express from 1980–81 and literary editor for The Express Magazine from 1980–82. In 1987, he became the literary editor for Debonair, a magazine originally modeled after Playboy. In 1989, he was promoted to editor and served in that position for several years, after which he returned to his writing career. He has also translated several works by Gulam Mohammed Sheikh. Together with Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Arun Kolatkar and Gieve Patel, he helped create "Clearing House", a poet's publishing co-operative.
In 1971 Adil married Veronik Jussawalla, and they adopted a girl.