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Archive for April, 2011

Covering Poonam Pandey, Dolly Bindra & Shilpa Shetty as a cub reporter for a daily is not easy. Especially as you’ll never be asked to cover or uncover Poonam Pandey, Dolly Bindra & Shilpa Shetty as a lowly cub reporter. The only assignments that come within the scope & ambit of the average cubby are very, very important events like Rotary club functions, kindergarten (I went through pre-KG, LKG, UKG & even 10th std thinking it was KinderGwarden; but that’s a different story) graduation parties, Ladies Recreation Club parties and the like. Going through journalism school with dreams of breaking the next Hawala/ Bofors/ Telgi scam – its not easy to swallow the bitter truth that you don’t get to cover Karunanidhi, Jayalalithaa or Vaiko unless you get to be as old as them or as pepper-tongued as them.

So the first job of the cub-reporter after he has finished sleeping over the super-boring report he has himself filed on —Rotary club functions, kindergarten graduation parties and Ladies Recreation Club parties — would be to read up on today’s newspapers (at 4.00 pm) so that he can knowledgably discuss yesterday’s events with his Chief Reporter who comes in at 4.30 pm. So as is the habit of everyone young at heart, the cub starts reading the paper from back-to-front so as to get an eyeful of “hot” news, before going on to the front sections to get bleary-eyed over who’s “hot” in the news.

In fact Page 3 is a myth started by journalists to get people to read news about Rotary club functions, kindergarten graduation parties, Ladies Recreation Club parties and the like. I mean honestly, which newspaper have you seen which sees fit to put hot pictures of hot girls wearing hotter clothes that leave men super-hot & sweaty on Page 3?

None!!! Coz that’s the exclusive territory of state & city reporters to bemoan the rubbish heaps at the end of their street. Just like a merry-go-round – the corporation reporter first reports on the rubbish at the end of their newspaper office street, then the rubbish at the end of the Editor’s street and then the rubbish at the end of the Principal correspondent’s street, senior correspondent’s, correspondent’s, trainee correspondent’s till they work their way down to the rubbish at the end of the newspaper watchman’s street.

But the rubbish reports sorry reports on rubbish are done only every alternate day because the day after this mind-blowing, award-winning “Blunton Mail expose” or coverage of rubbish, the next day the concerned newspaper will carry a huge story titled “Blunton Mail Impact” and a photograph in which you can see corporation workers clearing away the rubbish from the street they reported on yesterday.  So with everday having a “Blunton Mail expose” or a “Blunton Mail impact” you can be sure that reporters do their part in keeping corporation workers on their toes. Which is why the reporter, who covers problems on civic amenities, is known as “the Corporation Reporter”. Get it?

As to why the Court Reporter is called so, we can talk about that in another episode titled “Poonam Pandey, Dolly Bindra & Shilpa Shetty-Part II” (which we will call “Mad Hatter Times Impact” as its the follow-on) where we will get around to actually talking about “Poonam Pandey, Dolly Bindra & Shilpa Shetty.”

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One never appreciates the significance of summer holidays as much as when one is an adult and forced to superintend the activities of youngsters, who fully appreciate the significance of summer holidays.

It still beats me as to how my nephew who groans and moans and has to be dragged out of bed and plonked in front of the television set with a glass of milk and a plate of idlis at 7.00 am on school days, can bounce up like a well-oiled spring and start stirring hell out of the place by 5.00 am on summer holidays and weekends.

Children operate on this perverse principle that they are sick, their head is aching, their stomach is paining, their knees are hurting, so can they “please, please, stay away from school,” only to fully recover the minute the school bus rounds the corner without having picked them up due to your gullibility in believing them. And if you are stone-hearted enough to heartlessly send them to school on a Monday, you can be sure you won’t hear the end of your cruelty & tyranny till Friday. By Saturday of course all signs of illness would have mysteriously vanished or transferred magically to you.

For my nephew the holiday, hasn’t started till he has properly tangled up the yowling, furious cat in quantities of yarn, written silly messages with toothpaste on the bathroom mirror, dumped a generous quantity of flour on himself and on the floor in an attempt to eat forbidden candies, flooded the bathroom, kitchen, living room and maybe even the neighbour’s balcony in his attempt to have bath, marked out the floor with marbles, lego bricks and rice krispies as a booby-trap to the unwary passerby to trip and break his/her neck, turned on the TV at full blast so that the word “holiday & weekend” becomes a misnomer and broken some hideously ugly vase that some loving relative fostered on you!!! That’s when the day has started for him at 5.00 am..

By 6.00 am when the household is fully awake and cursing their stupidity in staying in the same house as the boy genius, who would give Dennis the Menace a run for his money, he would have progressed to better things, like Tarzan-testing the cable wires on the terrace by swinging across with a howl to set terror into the heart of every street dog, ratcheting up a string of cans, bottles and other miscellaneous articles on the tail of the unsuspecting neighbour’s dog, which was misguided enough to be lured by a packet of biscuits….

Sigh!! Why can’t I, who can fully appreciate the peace and solitude that comes with summer holidays, ever have summer holidays; but must be condemned to warming my office seat, 5 days a week, 4 weeks a month, 12 months  a year…the world is so unfair!

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Will Satya Sai Baba live till 96? Well, the man who claimed he would has answered it himself when he died at the ripe old age  of (ahem, cough, cough)….of 85. Sai Baba is hailed by many as a lover of humanity. Infact, Sai Baba loved humanity so much that his wheelchair-based darshan was always available for those who had bucketloads of dough available & ready to part with truckloads of it for the “love” of him.

He was also a advocate of free love…sorry, an advocate of free press – so much so that he got then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee,  former CJ P N Bhagwati, Ranganth Misra, Najma Heptulla and Shivraj Patil to write a letter, declaiming the exposure or should we say coverage of his “love” for the fairer sex.

He has also been hailed as the “Sai Baba The Mighty!! Sai Baba The All-powerful!!” for his ability to produce vibhuti, or holy ash, and assorted trinkets, watches, sweets and fruits, on request. Sigh! One only sees it as a sleight of fate that Harry “Houdini” and John Anderson, who were remarkable for the same gifts in this line of work, never managed to capitalize on the same and create a Rs 40,000 crore ($8.8 billion)-worth empire. Someone ought to have had the good sense to make them change

their midnight blue magician’s robes for saffran-hued ones.

I mean saffron-robes to India, is what Bond is to Western cinema; It gives you – “The License to Kill.” You can get away scot-free with anything short of murder or anything, including murder, if you happened to be a 70-year-old pontiff of a South Indian matt. Now if you ever wanted to dally with a buxom South Indian actress or get some long-legged Mumbai models to strike evocative poses with you, all you have to do is rent those saffron robe from the nearby theatre shop.

Apparently there’s something super-hot & sexy about holy men claiming to life a life of renunication. They dedicate themselves to a life without sex and next thing you know all the lesser-known sex sirens are queuing up at his door; and within a month the poor guy gets hit with more sex scandals than you can say “Jack Robinson.” I mean even Dawood Ibrahim or Salman Khan don’t seem to be having it real hot in the “girls department,” if one were to go by what the media has to say about our “Goodmen,” sorry Godmen.

But then we really shouldn’t be going by what the media says – I mean if media is represented by what Arnab Goswami, Rajdeep Sardesai or Radia Tapes-famed/ill-famed Bhakra sorry Barkha Dutt have to say. Maybe the Godmen are right when they say “Don’t listen to the media. They are just jealous.” I mean top journalists have accused Godmen of brokering political deals, horse trading, political black-money funding, flying in private jets and and do a reverse-Robin-Hood of stealing money from the poor to give to the rich; and then (journalists) have been caught attempting to do the same thing on a smaller-scale.

Some people might find it the height of irony that Godmen like Sai Baba and D G S Dhinakaran – famed far and wide for their ability to cure other people of sickness – have always had to get their sickness cured away by human not “divine” intervention.  But they are the scoffers, the charlatans – for the purer, higher-minded believers, who have always chose to disregard, the sex, corruption, tax evasion scandals, — Sai Baba and D G S Dhinakaran have ascended to heaven to the rejoicing of angels and mourning of Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Advani, Karunanidhi & the like, who have always remained faithful to those lined with deep pockets & deeper handouts.

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