Wednesday, July 23, 2008

a step out of the ordinary

hm... since i cant possibly spend so much time on the phone.. i think i'll describe the first two days of my newfound professional life on my blog for the benefit of my friends.. since i'm AT the office rt now and my contract forbids me to mention my work on the blogosphere, i think i'm gonna have to get aroud it by being slightly vague.. in any case, those who are reading this already know precisely where i'm working.. for those who stumbled upon this blog by chance.. suffice it to say that i'm in the journalism business, employed at one of India's leading newspapers, and as recently as two days ago shifted from the boredom of the editing desk to the agony of being a reporter..
love shows you the agony and ecstasy of things.. so they say.. "THEY" be damned.. so I say.. coz this job, which has been a dream for years, in reality has shown me both sides of the proverbial coin..
if i thought sitting around waiting for ppl to file enuf stories to be passed down to us lowly trainees for editing was bad.. the last two days have DRAINED me of energy..
yesterday as the MPs of India debated on the trust vote, i had to go chek out what the party workers at the head office of one of the major parties opposing the government were doing in the office... what no one told me was that the road that this said office is located at is a one way, with restriction on stopping any vehicle at any gate for more than about 30 seconds.. so while i got there comfortably in an auto, getting an auto back to the office wasnt quite so easy.. a couple of hours later, i was asked to go back to the same office.. and while i was there got a lead about a demonstration being held condemning the money- for votes scandal in the parliament. since i was only bout 2 km away from the parliament, this intrepid reporter decided to go check it out.. forgetting that the damned thing was in the WRONG direction to the traffic flow.. the upshot of it was that i ran about 700 odd metres in the blazing heat at 5 pm along a road lined with sentries, and got into an auto at the intersection.. thank god for roundabouts.. the autowallah however proved clueless regarding my destination.. and as anyone who'se ever tried to find their way around all those confusing intersecting round roads of central delhi will know, if u dont know the EXACT location and preferably a few landmarks of the place u need to go to.. u can get rather lost.. well.. thanks to a few good samaritans on the roadside, i reached my destination, took in the events, and climbed thankfully into a bus that would drop me right outside my office... after a whole month of getting home after 1 am, it was nice to reach comfortably at 9:15 and have dinner with my family..

today was a much more tiring day.. i guess i'm gonna have to toughen up a hell of a lot to continue in the job..
had to take a looooong bus ride all the way to noida, n then when i got back i saw a political rally in progress and decided to follow it... got into one of the cars participating in the rally n ended up all the way in shahadara... took me almost 30 mins and 50 bucks in the Auto to get back to my comfortable airconditioned office and collapse in a chair... worst thing.. the stories i went chasing after werent even important enuf to go into the paper.....
The day taught me what NOT to do when looking for a story.,.
1. DONT LEAVE the airconditioned confines of the office to cover an event before finding out what mode of transport is available to get to to the said event and back... yesterday i found, much to my despair that the organisers of the event i took the long bus ride to NOIDA to sent a car to pick up the journalists who were invited... running into the Radisson hotel looking like u've just tumbled out of a DTC (which IS exactly what uve just done) can make u feel extremely uncomfortable in the midst of a glitzy launch event...
2. DONT care what you look like when u get to wherever it is that u've been sent to get a story... as long as uve got clothes on your back and your hair doesnt look like a bird biult a nest in it.. its FINE... u're a REPORTER for heaven's sake.. NO ONE CARES how u're dressed... seniors at my office even told me how they just went off to party after a tiring hectic day without bothering to change.. the press card does the trick..

3. NEVER let your phone balance run out... u dont want to be stuck somewhere wondering whether its worth your while to even pursue the "story" further.. and u cant call the office n confirm whether it wouldn't be better for u to simply return.

4.NEVER just go off to see whats goin on... landing up at a major party's media cell on a day when some superemely important political event is on , without any idea of what u will ask is NOT a good idea.. u'll only end up feeling rather embarrassed..
5. and this is THE most important.... DONT expect to find a story wherever you go... u might go chasing after something for an exhaustingly long time only to realise it was really not worth the wasted time... BUt it IS.. since its teaching u what NOT to go running after..

ah well... I think i've learnt a few lessons...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Butterfly effect

The butterfly effect is a phrase that encapsulates the more technical notion of sensitive dependence on initial conditions in chaos theory. Small variations of the initial condition of a dynamical system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system. So this is sometimes presented as esoteric behavior, but can be exhibited by very simple systems: for example, a ball placed at the crest of a hill might roll into any of several valleys depending on slight differences in initial position.

why i feel this way?? coz something i thought would not mean anything suddenly has become the cause of a major hassle.. truth and lies, hiding and exposing.. why cant i ever figure out when to keeep my mouth shut n when not to???????? i said something that i shouldn't have ages ago... n didnt say something i should have.. today that comes back to haunt me.. n its taken on a much much larger meaning and importance than it could ever have..if only i'd done something different..

'if only'... thats a phrase that'll rule my life for as long as i live right?? things i've done that cant be undone, unsaid.. things that i've left unsaid that cant come out now.. decisions that i sometimes regret but sometimes think its better to have things as they are....

saying something that i didn't think mattered much.. brings up a terrifying spectre of broken promises and lack of trust.. a little thing as far as i was concerned.. something that really couldnt matter to me.. n today its shaken the ground under my feet..
as the theory sez... a ball being rolled down a hill can roll into any valleys.. so can one sentence be interpreted in different manners and elicit varied responses.. some expected, some unexpected...
i thought saying something tonight would be okay... but its only opened a pandora's box....
n i havent quite managed to keep the insect of foreboding from escaping...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008



A couple of months back I was moderating a TV discussion between writer Amitav Ghosh, and a perky, outspoken bunch of university students. One of them popped up with the invariable, but clich├ęd question: Did Ghosh believe there was a ‘Stephanian school of literature’, given how many famous authors seem to walk off its shining green lawns?
Amitav and I, both from ‘College’ (if you want to spot a St Stephen’s alumnus, that’s the surefire sign — there’s no article or pronoun when we talk of our campus years; it’s just ‘college’ — cringed slightly at the presumptuous tag. But then he went on to say, what many others — bureaucrats, businessmen, journalists and artistes — have said before.
“College,” he said, was where he met the most extraordinarily bright and, perhaps, the nicest people he has ever known and its diversity and ideas shaped him in an indelible way. This, from someone who has also studied at Oxford, taught at Harvard and lived in New York.
I knew exactly what he meant in the implicit bonding that only a shared experience can create. But, if usually, meeting someone from College evokes a quiet pride, this time I felt a mild panic and deep sadness. Was this going to be the last time someone would describe those deliciously textured and passionate years in a way that was immediately identifiable across generations? Was the St Stephen’s ethos — built assiduously over 127 years — now terminally ill? Would College ever be the same again? The Church, you see, is killing our alma mater. The monstrous culture of quotas is all set to swallow its soul.
First, the (ominous sounding) Supreme Council that controls St Stephen’s, increased the reserved seats for Christian students from 40 per cent to 50 per cent.
Then, finding that many of these blocked seats went empty over the years because of a lack of qualified candidates among minority students, it drastically pulled down the cut-off marks needed for admission to 60 per cent. So, while, every other student passing out of high school needs anywhere in the range of an 85-90 per cent score in the board exams to even eye three years at St Stephen’s, being Christian means you can walk in with a much lower grade.
These were decisions that ripped through the heart of college, pushing its faculty, students and alumni onto different sides of ugly battlelines. Soon, the contentious principal who began the process had to exit, but the college was left headless and steeped in petty politics and volatile internal divisions. It’s so ironic for an institution that was always accused of being elitist because it did not even participate in the Delhi University students’ elections, preferring instead to create its own student body.
Those days, our defence used to be that we didn’t care to be soiled by the muck and dirt of campus politics. Who would have thought then that the same institution would end up being mired in controversy? Two ministers in the present union cabinet — India’s foreign secretary and the head of the country’s Planning Commission — are all Stephanians. How ironic then, that at this point, the College doesn’t even have a principal — it has been orphaned by an appalling lack of leadership.
But unmindful of the storm raging all around it — a storm that could bring more than the building down — the powerful mafia of Bishops that control St Stephen’s (supported by others within the college) are going ahead with another outrage.
Now they want to reserve faculty seats for Christian teachers. The administrative body that controls the college has quietly instructed heads of department to fill vacant posts with Christian candidates.
Just recently, a former gold medalist student, who wanted to come back and teach at College, was rejected for the job in favour of a Christian alternative. Teachers have protested, argued, dashed off angry letters — even gone on TV to make their point — but the stern men in the purple robes have the ruthlessness of the old Crusaders. They really couldn’t give a toss.
And why should they? They have an inspiring role model in the Human Resource Development Minister who just this month ordered India’s IITs to reserve teachers’ seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs. Not one of the IIT directors was consulted before the dictatorial memo was circulated asking that the faculty quotas be implemented with ‘immediate effect’. The IIT teachers have attempted a few, feeble street protests, but they all know the die has been cast and there is no looking back now. When Brand IIT can be mauled beyond recognition by subversive politics, why would anyone care about a small island of excellence called St Stephen’s College?
For very long now those who oppose reservations have been branded as ‘casteist’ and ‘elitist’ by the quota-pushers. But actually, the debate engulfing my old college has precious little to do with caste, class or egalitarianism. In the name of religion and Christianity, St Stephen’s is being pummelled by bigots and autocrats into the very opposite of its essence.
Yes, St Stephen’s is a ‘Christian’ college. But back in the day, what that used to mean was that the choir and the cross, and the little chapel at the back would be the setting for an ensemble cast of hundreds of people from different faiths, backgrounds and castes, to make a home for three years; a home that we never wanted to leave. And its Latin motto — ad dei gloriam — ‘For the greater glory of God’ — always made perfect sense. It was hopeful, inspirational and filled with the grand possibilities of Life.
Now, we can just sit back and watch another institute that India was proud of being destroyed in the name of God. And we can’t even turn to faith and ask that they be forgiven, for “they know not what they do”. The tragedy is they know exactly what they are doing. And you and I can do nothing to change it.
(Barkha Dutt is the Group Editor, English News, NDTV)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Life seems so like a bollywood movie sometimes.. but its not...

The title is a comment Noor made while i was gushing about the movie 'Jane tu ya jane na' today... i FINALLY watched it today , the 1230 show with noor.. i'd been hankering for a movie for what seems like aeons.. the last movie i'd watched in a hall was Spiderman3 last year with ankit..

so.. i got to Plaza at CP at 12 in the sweltering heat to get tickets.. coz the last time we tried(last wednesday to be very exact) we couldnt get tickets.. noor got there by bout 1230 n we went in for the show..

1st of all.. an overall opinion- it was SO CUTE!!!!!! it was the cliched, cheesy,- best friendsrealise they've always been in love- story but its been made so well... i mean.. it uses ALL possible cliches- the college buddies who are as alike as chalk n cheese but cant be without each other, the two sidekick frenz who're in love with the guy n girl respectively, the supportive all seeing friend who keeps her mouth shut, the possessive boyfriend, the trying-to be understanding girlfriend, even the rather done to death sequence where the guy finally shows up at the airport in the nick of time..there are lame jokes n weird dialogue.. BUT the actors and the overall look of the movie make up for it all... plus, Imran khan is really hot.. he may look slightly silly from some angles but he's too damned good looking for a few angles to matter.. the last sequence where he's riding a horse to the airport is like... wow... and the chemistry between all the actors is palpable.. u can SEE them as frenz, not just actors playing frenz.. made me wish i had that dedicated a group of frenz... n thankful that i DO have frenz i can call up at 5 AM my pet died n i needed solace...
and the songs are so sweet... the pappu cant dance song is really hilarious, and rather meaningles... i mean, the stopry goes like someone's college life.. full of random snippets and silly things that a group does together...
i missed Ankit SOOOO much during the movie.. the lead pair were best buddies who kept squabbling ALL the time.. n were rather oblivious to everyone else.. noor said ankit n i are like that whenever we're together.. it was like this movie was made for us... wish i could've watched it with him.. its the kind of movie u watch with a whole bunch of friends, and the love of your life holding your hand while ure there....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

nightmare in rainbow hues...

don't expect poetry or any ethereal discussions on the phenomenon of nightmares or anything remotely intellectual... not that any of my posts are ever that... this thing is a straightforward rant at the lack of taste and elegance in ANYTHING u might expect to see in a market full of clothes...
A short backgrounder first... those who already know me intimately.. u've heard this before... so u may skip to the next para.. if, that is, u really want to read the same thing i've been moaning about for quite a while now... i dont go shopping all that often... my shopping is usually limited to a coupla new tshirts/kurtis/dressy tops every season.. or a pair of jeans roughly once a year coz thats just about how long it takes for me to either get bored with it or ruin it somehow.. For the last coupla months..every time that i've bothered to haul myself to the market, i've come back empty handed with aching eyes at the sheer number of BRIGHT sequinned things with weird colours and funny stones all over the place... WHAT is the world coming to????? that people think dressing up means draping what seems like the entire rainbow(and then some..) of colours on yourself n putting a few bright sparkly things in even weirder colours on top of it..??????

why i rant today?? ah yes... i just spent 3 hours looking for a sari to wear for my sister's wedding.. n now i have a pounding headache.. n NOT because its sunny in delhi.. oh NO... but coz there was just SO MANY SHINY THINGS!!! today is not the first i've gone on a sari hunt... the last 2 weekends were spent in a similarly futile search for pretty things.. except that THOSE were for my beloved Sis n i didnt really have to spend time analysing every sari that was spread out, like i had to today... from South Extn mkt to chandni chowk to kamla nagar n every mall we could find... we've been scouring every place we can think of for more than a month now.. n its been really hard to scrape together enough saris for the family and the bride.. WHY is every sari one can find in the market covered with stones?? or sequins, or worse, BOTH?? dont people make simple elegant WEARABLE saris anymore?? the only stone free saris were the heavy kanjivarams and assorted silks that befit ONLY the bride.. what of the rest of the women in the family?? either we look like badly designed chandeliers or dig into mom's old clothes chest.. which ofcourse contains things she would NEVER let me wear coz they're too heavy/old-style = inappropriate for an unmarried little girl like me to wear.. WTF!!!!!
sample this... i walk into this old renowned shop in Kamla nagar, say hello to the aged uncleji sitting there n ask to see simple yet wedding- appropriate saris in a particular price range.. in his infinite wisdom he dispatches an underling to get the "achchi wali, modern saris".. well and good.. mom, dad, me and kid bro(who tagged along for some unknown reason) sit waiting in anticipation, looking around at the rather exorbitantly decorated saris that adorn the mannenquins around us.. i point to one of those.. but its deemed too heavy for the kid sis of the bride.. dont wanna upstage my sister now do i??
meanwhile.. the assistants come back with an assortment of materials and colours perched on their shoulders..(i'm using rather flowery language aren't i?) n proudly spread out the wares.. soft chiffons and flowing georgettes and even a coupla silks n stuff... lovely shades of blue and green and pink and orange.. ON EVERY ^#& *#!*^#!ONE OF THEM!!!!!!!! there was a chiffon sari in a gorgeous shade of blue.. flowing into a palla of pink... WITH YELLOW AND RED STONEWORK on it!!! i mean.. REALLYYYYY!!!!!!!!! then there were the so called 'designer' saris.. a red n black with red flowers on it.. AND the flowers were bigger than my entire HEAD! and there were black sequins outlining the flowers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! n that wasn't the worst of them... the ABSOLUTE WORST i saw was a brown n orange chiffon sari... all flowy and lovely to touch.. with a geometrical parallel line pattern on it... and there were HUGE BLACK SQUARE STONES on it!!! I wanted to throw up right there!!!!!!!!!!! n my kid brother seemed to delight in pointing out the weirdest shades and designs n telling me to get those... n it was practically the same thing at 3 other shops we went to... the humid n hot weather, plus my age makes it rather impractical to wear heavy silks which seem to be practically the only things that are NOT full of stones..
3 hours, four shops, and countless thoughts of murder later, i found ONE sari that i loved at first sight... thank god...
the only problem is.. the wedding is 3 DAYS of ceremonies.... siiiiiiggghhhhhh.....