Archive for April, 2008

The rules of grammar can be broken in journalism, if it makes the headlines/straps more interesting. I have found that at times pun or play on Siamese twins makes arresting headlines. For the uninitiated Siamese twins are idioms that are inseparable like hammer and tongs, thick and thin, hide and seek, etc.

One of my earliest recollections is The Hindu’s editorial on the unrest Nepal, in the heading went “Of coups and carnages,” a good play on Lewis’s poem…. Of kings and cabbages in Alice in Wonderland.

Another Hindu headline that split a Siamese twin (trinomial) with good effect was: “Now every Tom, Dick & Hari owns a BMW” instead of Tom, Dick and Harry

But then another article in DC on why plump women need not panic over weight gain with the header “the big, the fat and the ugly” had dubious implications. So its all in the usage, I guess.

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Mistakes, Mistakes….

A sub-editor’s life is all about getting it right 99 times and getting yelled for the one time she (he) didn’t get it right. The whole problem I feel is lack of time. I remember copy-pasting one entire chunk only to see the next day morning that the small pointer, which was supposed to read

See also Page 2, Gates on N-deal, instead read (horror of horrors), Bill Gates on N-deal. Of course, my team mates did’nt let me forget this goof-up for a long time…sundry jokes on how Microsoft inked the N-deal abounded.

The other errors that made life more bearable for us, was when a reporter filed a copy on the death of an elephant.

It read:


Chennai, April 1: An elephant died of a heart attack near Dindigul on Sunday morning at a temple. (And next comes the beauty of beauties) She was female.….

And then there was my colleague, who missed this line in a story on our P.C. (finance minister not our terminal, though the rate at which they function is the same: Dead slow!): “the minister said discreet factors were involved in any budget, and it could not be dismissed as a poll-driven one,” instead of “discrete factors were involved..” Of course most of what our politicians say is dubious, but the correspondent’s typwriting error and the sub’s casualness resulted in a heap of coals on all our heads from the heads.

And some mistakes are so easy to make…like phonetic errors….”well-nown carnatic singer..” “non other than …”

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Most of the sub-editors, working on the national page, would have by now got used to seeing the same PTI\Rueters\AP copy in every other newspaper – IE, the Hindu & DC, they open. But the same picture in every newspaper is a little too much. Even the readers by now would have caught on to the fact that if it weren’t for the news agencies, our newspapers would’nt be able to boast of 46 pages, 76 pages or a 100 pages (courtesy: The Times). 

The same pic of Arundhati Roy taking part in a Tibetan protest could be seen in the April 13 th edition of the 1ndian express and Deccan Chronicle.

The April 12th edition of the city’s three newspapers was even worse, with all three of them carrying the same picture of Tibetan protestors scaling the Golden gate and hanging banners, crying out to “FREE TIBET.”

And then there was the picture of magician Renuka’s attempt to cycle across a river….I could see it everywhere. In IE, in the inside pages, in DC, again…

Lack of content, lack of orginality, dosen’t seem to affect anyone as journalists day after day just use the Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V buttons, when using newsfeeds for filling their pages. And I feel the nicest job one can have is becoming  the senior-most reporter in an office…If ur one, then no can question u if u do arm-chair journalism or change the by-line in a PTI copy and pass it of as ur copy (after u add extraneous material taken off wikipedia and the online versions of other newspapers).

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*Comments have been re-opened but will be moderated


Have you guys heard of The Pentecostal Mission (TPM)? I’m sure you must have heard some half-baked guys singing loudly, off-tune and with reverberations of “Hallelluiah” and “Praise the Lord” every five minutes late into the night in your neighbourhood. Well these guys are part of the “Halleluiah goshti” or Pentecostals.

The strong, fanatical and only true followers of Christ are the TPM members.

The TPM members feel that they are unlike the lilies of the valley, which neither spin nor toil and let their heavenly father take care of them. Either these guys live in morbid fear of hell or an intense longing for heaven: Otherwise I find it hard to interpret their fanatical devotion to misinterpreting the Bible.Some of the things that are likely to get the goat of non-believers (in their language this word includes the poor, deluded Christians who are not part of their denomination as well):

*The women do not preach in church or elsewhere. You see Paul said women were to be silent in church, so the decree: No woman pastors needed. For was not Eve, the first sinner who enticed Adam to sin, a woman? Anyway these worthy disciples of Apostle Paul (who did not get married) and Apostle Peter (who found the ministry more interesting than the cares of domestic life) do not let women preach or talk in church. A woman’s duty is to listen to the men in the church, for are not men the heads of the family like Christ is the head of the church? I wonder how they always manage to come up with verses that suit their convenience. When I quote the Bible that “men and women are equal in the eyes of God,” I’m the “devil quoting the scriptures.”

*The brothers and sisters in the church lead a life more austere and Augustine than the Trappisian monks. Yup! No coloured uniforms. Plain white robes and even plainer food is the order of the day for the full-time workers of this church. I wonder how they can forgive God for creating the bright-yellow of the daffodils, the azure of the violets or the dark reds of the geraniums? Or do they feel he was wasting his time by creating dye-producing plants like the Indigo? Even the lay people in the church come every Sunday to church dressed in white. If they associate white with purity is black the colour of the devil and the BMWs, which some of their chief pastors own, the machinations of the devil? >:)

*No medicines. Medicines are taboo, according to them for is not Christ the supreme healer? This is quite a horrific misinterpretation of the Bible. My first clash with ultra-Christianity came at the age of 8, when I was vacationing in Rameswaram. A worker at the Mission hospital told us a story of how their neighbour’s child died of typhoid, because the child Christian parents wanted divine healing. The little girl, had been extremely sick, but the parents refused to take the girl to a doctor. The worker told us how all the neighbours were planning to forcibly take the child to the hospital, when the child died. He told me, the worst blow, the parents had was when the pastor, told them that the child had died because they had doubted that God would heal the child. Later, on I heard more stories of how people had to have their legs amputated, their skins peppered with diseases, because they believed God would someday heal them. Even, when I was a god-fearing Christian, I viewed all this extreme distaste. Now that I’m out of the Christian fold, I can find similarities between this fanaticism and the fanaticism that leads people from other faiths to kill their own children as sacrifices at the altar of another God.*This church doesn’t believe in letting its members see the TV, hear ungodly music on the radio or read anything ungodly. Anything apart from the Bible and their monthly text of piety called The Pentecost is termed ungodly by these people, who are the self-proclaimed true-Christians.

*Another ridiculous thing is that they don’t believe in letting women wear jewels. Apparently men wearing Rolex watches and flaunting their Fords will not in anyway increase their vanity. But women, the avaricious creatures that they are, will go haywire at the sight of gold. I think all this idiocy stems from Paul’s saying that it is better that a woman adorns herself with good works, than with jewellery or braiding their hair. Well Paul said: Its better you do this than that, but The TPM interpretation: Women must not wear jewels. So if you see most Pentecostal woman in India have to forgo gold – a security and investment, as it increases their vanity. In foreign countries I’m sure this Pentecostal teaching is no hardship, but in India, with every other housewife being decked like a jewellery showroom, it must be a pretty hard cross for these women to b(w)ear. After years of staying in the TPM church, my grandma moved away. Now, she sees the pastors’ wives in more liberal Pentecostal churches wearing jewels and badly wants to wear jewels again, but doesn’t do so because she feels it will look ridiculous to resume wearing jewels at her age. Why all this deprivation? Why all the fuss? Wear jewels if you feel like it, since its normal in Indian society for women to wear jewels. Anyway if they are going to misread Paul’s statement like that, they must also wear their hair loose and never use hair clips, hair pins, barrettes, ribbons or braid their hair. For did not Paul say it is better for a woman to adorn herself with good works than wear JEWELS or BRAID her HAIR?

Rachel Chitra

Error Regreted, Clarification: I had earlier made some references to the TPM’s history, it now appears that:

“Chief Pastor Alwin de Alwis was excommunicated by Pastor M. Daniel in France faith home on charges of sexual misbehavior.  Pastor Alwin was subsequently forced out of CPM by Freddy Paul and other senior ministers.  This took place in 1962/63.

Pastor Philip Chandapillai, Associate Chief Pastor, was assaulted by TPM believers at the Kottarakara, Kerala center faith home for changing the name from CPM to TPM.  This took place in 1983/84.”

Author’s note: This post was written more than a year ago. There are some things in the post like “half-baked guys” & “Halleluiah goshti” that I wish I had not written now. Those words sound hasty & immature. I want to apologise if I have hurt the sentiments of TPM members. But I still stand by my doctrinal criticism of the church. I have also posted another article – in which I have recounted the history of the TPM as told to me by a current TPM member.

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