December 26, 2013

Good riddance, b'day is gone

Phew! It's one minute since my birthday got over. To my joy and satisfaction, it turned out to be an uneventful day. As normal as it comes. Wait, it wasn't normal. For, today I did four spectacular things: washed my clothes, cleaned my room, took a bath and didn't skip a meal. I think it's for the first time in sooo many months that I pulled off such a feat. Wow! I give myself a pat on the back for the epic achievement. Managing to perform these many Herculean activities in a single day is no mean task for the uberlazy guy I've become of late. Lazy I've always been. Becoming uberlazy is a recent accomplishment.

So I turned 26. Hmmm... But I have no thoughts to offer. Nothing to philosophise. No awe and disbelief on turning this old. Ever since I ceased being a teen (and this was more than half a decade years ago), I've been shocked that I'm not a teen anymore. Got to think of something new to harp on in my birthday posts. But well, as I was listening to Bryan Adams's Anthology today, he says 18 Till I Die. And this indeed applies to me. Age certificate might say whatever, I'm still as stupid and naive—and phattu when it comes to girls—as I was at the age of 18.

One strange thing. Today evening when I came to office, I saw an e-card in my inbox. The sender did not identify himself/herself. The section of sender's name said "to hemant". I wonder who it was. Not that I care, just a mild curiosity. More so because when I clicked on the link of the e-card, it directed me to a page that said the card is no longer available. E-cards expire not before two or three months. Did the anonymous sender delete the card after sending it? Can they? Why? Was it because I've gone incommunicado? Let me ask ACP Pradyuman. Uh oh. What a boring joke.

But ok, I'm not in form these days. Yesterday (on 24th), office people dragged me to take part in salad-making competition. I've been dodging such time-waste things for more than two years here, but this time I couldn't wriggle out of the situation as the competition was to be in groups and a boy from the US who's interning with us wanted to soak in the experience. He needed a partner and the pretty girls in whose department he's interning talked me into going with him. I went only because it won't have seemed appropriate not to entertain a guest. I felt so stupid, embarrassed and awkward, standing on the terrace reluctantly with cucumbers, rotten tomatoes, radish, capsicum on a table, Gangam Style playing in the background. UGhhhh!! While that torture is over, I have another thing to tackle, two in fact: tomorrow, HR department is going to send 'Belated Happy Birthday' mails. Then towards month-end, there is cake-cutting thing in office.

I just hate all this drama. Avoiding cake-cutting thing is easy. I'll just came late to the office. Just that work will take a toll because these days, I'm the only one in my department. But hell with it. I had signed up here to work, not to slice tomatoes, dice cucumber and cut cake. I'll come late. Oh, but tomorrow I hope no one sees 'Belated Happy Birthday' mail. I hope they don't put my name in it. While I'll definitely convince them it's not my birthday and it's an error, still... Ah, I wish I could bunk tomorrow.

Ok, I can go on and on. But no time. I am writing from office and it's empty now. No editing this one. It comes straight from the heart. Hahahaha... A post coming straight from the heart seems so boring. But ok, I can't be that entertaining, jovial guy 365 days a year.

Just one thing. While I don't like celebrating my birthday, I'm glad I was born. I've so much to do.

More blogposts on my birthday:
My last b'day got overshadowed by the epic fail of Doomsday
Failure of 21 Dec prophecy made me write more in context to b'day/life

I tried celebrating the year before
The first and the lamest b'day blog post

P.S. Yeah, I wrote I won't edit this, but two weeks after posting it, I noticed a couple of mistakes and set them right. I'm a sub-editor, after all.

September 02, 2013

I'm great! People say so

YO YO YO YO YO! The Champ [pause] is [pause] HERE!! 

Hahaha... That used to be the opening line of WWE wrestler John Cena in his initial days. The crowd would go crazy when he'd say that. And that's how most of my emails to friends used to start. That was years ago. Why am I reminiscing the old stuff? I was looking at my pics of yore when an acquaintance sought to see my photos in which I look healthy. So I logged into Orkut, showed off my pics (I was such a looker during my graduation days!) and then drifted away to reading testimonials. Wow!

No doubt, Facebook is miles ahead of Orkut, but letting people's friends write testimonials for them is one good thing that Orkut did and Facebook hasn't. As I started reading my testimonials, I felt glum. I felt good. I'm so awesome! I'm great! Deeply satisfying when you have other people saying that for you. Hahahaha... So let's get down to the brass tacks and see just how highly my friends regard me. 

The first one: On April 8, 2007, I received my first testimonial. My bestest friend wrote it for me. I was 19 then. I guess that was for the first time I had tears of joy. Ahhhh... How great it all felt :)
  • Hemant! I was wondering 5 min before.. why I am writing testimonial for him. but hey now enough , people really need to know the real Hemant… if u think dat hemant is Idiot,stupid, mad ,carziii feella who is never ever serious 4 anything… :D ( jaisaa ki pehle mai sochti thi.. in my school days) den I am sorri to say . u all need to update the file in ur minds named hemant… and know the real new version of him… which is finally I got to know ! B-)
    A boy wid Awesome writing skills (gosh ! I got shocked wen I read his article) It was just superb.. he is a boy whom u can trust on… always ready to listen N yaa mind it… he is listening to u wid full sincerity, that’s wat is imp. a boy who wanna do something for poor people.grt thinking yaar… he is kool v friendly v intelligent.. :) wonderful person by heart….. he is v simple and pure…. :) :)
    And yaa I can’t dare to forget his singing talent helloo don’t get surprised… he has damn good voice…. B-)
    He really added new colours to my life…. As such a grt friend.. who ll let u know abt ur mistakes on face and’ll praise even a smallest improvement… B-) he is lovely frd I ever had ..alwayss be same hemant.. not u ppl around u need change now…. God bless u…. Thankss for being my friend…… :) :)
From an angel: I have known her since I was in class 9. She's three years younger and was my next-door neighbour for two years. Such a sweetheart. Everyone loves her. She saw the aforementioned testi and it spurred her to lavish praise on me. Good decision, I say! This came on May 7, 2007, btw.
  • hemant bhaiyya is da sweetest boy ive ever come across......friends like him r very rare.....and iam very lucky to be one of his frends......he is always ready to lend a helping hand.....very frank and open....can be very moody too at times.....lolz..hez very caring....loving and is always there fr u.....wonderful listener.....and alwaz gt new and exciting stories to tell.....u will never gt bored wid him....and also hez gt an amazin memory....remembers everything u tell him....and he alwaz makes otherz feel SPECIAL by remebering those little things.NEVER EVER CHANGE BAHIYYA!!!!!
Bestest friend again: She would keep deleting accounts and creating new ones. You know how it is with girls, right? So she wrote me another one from her new account on March 14, 2008. God is great. Hahaha ;)
  • Our friendship Is not a result of random chance fate or luck, there is a master plan of god behind it!! I know hemant will not believe in it. But I do :) .. he is sooo loving , caring n helpful person one can met in his life/her life….nobody can be more caring Than him. If u have any problem d first person on earth who is worried abt it it Hemant .. who will not sleep till he find out a solution fo it !!(but to enjoy dis service u have to be his frd naa :P
    He seems to be v funny, careless at the times..but guys beware dats not d real hemant! He is damn serious abt evrthing happening around him… not an easy person to understand even ur small act can pissed him off….he takes even d smallest thing u said to his heart,,, he have a Divine heart yup I mean it…a divine heart which onli think abt doing gud….he is a total harmless creature …. :)
    He is a bundle of incredible abilities …an amazing creation of god … well it’s a different thing that he has completely messed up with life..and god loves watching every detail of his life…….but god don’t want to help him out…coz he know hemant don’t need any help….he is organized wid all powers v well …..Just d problem is to realize how to use those powers :)
    keep rocking :)
Who wrote this one? This one is dated August 3, 2008. The person has deleted his/her account and I really don't remember who wrote this. I guess this person was one of those who were part of the online group where my anti-reservation articless were a rage. While I can't recall who you are, thanks for the kind words.
  • its a waste of tym to write ....its deep, grafted in my mind dat ur d fuel of future IINDIA, "SONE KI CHIDIYA" . . A KRANTIKARI IS BORN....

Yeah! That's my boy: Now this is what I call manufactured consent. Anna, 24 ghante chaukanna, the brainiest, multitalented kid. This maha-phodu aadmi was my classmate in school. In fact, we traded testis. No, not the organ. I meant plural of "testi", the slang for "testimonial". It was his idea. He said you write for me, I'll write for you. We sent each other his testi by mail and then posted it after obtaining consent. The first draft of what he wrote for me was far too nice, so I asked him to add some masala, which you'll see as his closing remarks. Hahahah... Oh, the date is January 22, 2009, btw. I was in the second sem of journalism college.
  • HEMANT... hmmm HEMU... hmmm TINNY...hmmm bas enuf with the nick names... lets get going
    one of the coolest guy i (or rather anybody else who has come in contact with him) have ever met in my whole life. GOD he has got brains and that too a versatile one which he puts to use in a MYRIAD of situations except studies. there are some guys who can't be judged by the silly paramaters set by today's mundane world and i assure u HEMANT is one of them. he is just above all these things. as they say "SOME THINGS ARE JUST MEANT TO BE.... " never change man!!! u rock. who said nobody is perfect !!! you already are !!!
    and ya one thing that is the rarest in the meanest of breeds (humans of course ) is ALTRUISM b'liv me this guy has cultivated this to the fullest. a nice company, the best guy. kudos to u my pal... but saala aajkal kutte type bhaagne laga hai ladkiyon ke peechey haalaki vishesh sutron (SHUKLA) se pata chala hai ki darne ki koi baat nahi hai "HE WILL BE WITH US ONLY KYUNKI BAHUT PHATTU HAI ".

Shhh! The Secret: Nah, sorry. Nothing secretive about the one who wrote this. He/she too has deleted his/her profile and I can't recall who it was. What I remember is that he/she was part of the Orkut community about The Secret. It was this docu-movie and these people whose support bailed me out of the toughest time I had in my life. Thank you so much! (I've got a feeling I recall who wrote this. Was a girl, I think.) Sent on August 3, 2009.
  • haha.............hez of d most talkative prani of r hez nice n helpful person...........n i'll pray to God.....bhagwan balak ke sapne Bhut badeeeeeeeeeee hain......jaldi se pura kar do.....nai toh ye VAAchal Prani aapko b nai Bakshega..lolA Frn is an Appreciator, A critic, alwayz stay by ur side in goOd n Bad times, showS u d rite Path, ScOlds u,
    Lvs u, plAys every possible Role in ur Life.............just fr u.........bla bla bla..list goes on n oNNNN.....but u r a LuCky Star fr Me whIch SECRET has given to me
    HaPpy ManiFesting
    Khush reyon
Yeah, this is all. I mean this is all besides the silly ones like "Cute tweety for a cute friend", roses, teddy bears made out of special characters. I mercilessly declined such spam-ish stuff.

Orkut became a digital cemetery long ago. That doesn't mean I don't get any compliments now. I got an email earlier this year from a fan, saying I'm a jackass and I should get an Oscar for acting like a good guy. Oscar, man! That's some compliment.

August 28, 2013

Here's what lack of journalism training does

An article on media watchdog website The Hoot raises some pertinent questions about the Indian press. It says: "There are guidelines (see here) governing coverage of sexual offences, war, communal riots or conflict. Are journalists not aware of these guidelines? Do they get any kind of training or orientation when they do go out into the field? Don't they have editorial gatekeepers who vet copy?"

Here's what I think the answer to her questions is. No, many journalists—if not most—are not aware of these guidelines. About training, highly unlikely that the organisation they are working with trains them. I'm three-and-a-half years old in the newspaper industry and have friends in all the major newspapers. Nowhere will you find any formal training to sensitise the recruits. I'll respond to the third question (editorial gatekeepers) later and elaborate on the training part first.

Broadly speaking, there are three types of journalists:
1. Those with a specialised course in journalism, like the ones IIJNM and ACJ offer;
2. Graduates of mass communication courses; and
3. Other professionals-turned-journalists. With no training either in journalism or mass communication.

I'm an alumnus of Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media and, therefore, know that it teaches students about media ethics and the legal aspect of journalism. That media should not give away any identifying detail of a victim of sexual assault—and legal nitty-gritty of other things like libel, plagiarism, copyright etc—were taught to us every week in the first class of the first day of the week. I presume Asian College of Journalism too imparts this knowledge.

But what about mass communication colleges? I don't know if they tell their students about the boundaries of a journalist and dos and don'ts of the trade. I don't know, so I won't make any sweeping statement. But going by the appalling ignorance of such colleges' graduates I've worked with, I presume that not much attention, if any, is given to media ethics and the profession's nuances, which are vital to not-incorrect journalism.

Ill-equipped recruits
Many students of BA in mass communication land jobs as trainee reporters or trainee sub-editors. Journalism is just not the focus of their course, but a mere part of it. Just like public relations, advertising, literature and/or some other subjects. Most often, they land the job because of their decent knowledge of English. And most often, that's the be all and end all of they know. And it reflects in their performance.

Such 'journalists' don't even know the rules, which is why they nonchalantly violate them. Journalists ought to treat information with a healthy scepticism, instead of blindly believing a 'source'. They need to understand that news is not what the PR agent is nagging them to publish, but what someone is trying to hide. Good news is not found in the AC halls of star hotels hosting press conferences of corporates, whose PR agencies welcome you with folders, some gift, a notepad and a pen. Good news is found by sifting through volumes of tiring, boring government records. It is found in the hostility of a babu, reluctance of a politician and rage of the oppressed. Good news is found in hard work, definitely not in hotel press conferences.

But much of the stuff you read in today's newspapers is a stenographer's report of what happened.  On the occasion of XYZ, Tom said blah blah blah. Dick added yappa yappa yappa and Harry seconded him. This brand of 'journalism', which is the bread and butter of most 'journalists', is most prevalent. Events, press conferences. Period. Even a high-schooler can do this.

Routine embarrassments

And if you think journalists are required to ask the right questions, I want to tell you about this press meet I had covered more than four years ago. (Covering them is an unavoidable part of a reporter's life.) Infosys chief NR Narayana Murthy was a speaker at the event. After it got over and he sought to leave, mediapersons (print and TV) approached him for a byte. I don't recall the questions, but I remember I was horrified upon listening to the downright dumb and pointless questions of media 'professionals'. I was still in my J-school and that assignment was my first brush with the stupidity of 'journalists'.

NRN found their questions so funny that he broke into a laughter when questions as different as chalk is from cheese were randomly being thrown at him. Laughing, he told the mediapersons, "You people are very intelligent! I want to make even my daughter a journalist."

That was my first brush with the inane, mundane, 'brain drain' 'journalists'. Then I got a job in a newspaper and realised that it is such people who are in the majority in the print media (can't say about broadcast, as have no experience there). These disinterested fellows cause embarrassment to the profession. The good news is that there have always been sincere, intelligent and sharp journalists, albeit in minority.

People with the right training/knowledge are few in the industry, I think. This brings me to the third question the article raises: "Don't they have editorial gatekeepers who vet copy?" Of course, sub-editors are there to vet the stories. Alas, many don't even know their job is to vet the copy instead of just turning it into English from inglis. Their college did not tell them. The company—presuming that they are supposed to know so they know—does not tell them. Isn't a chain as strong as its weakest link? This is why media draw so much flak. ("Medium" is singular. "Media" is plural. It's incorrect to say: "Media draws...")

If Press Council of India chairperson Justice (retd) Markandey Katju castigates journalists, he has a reason.

July 16, 2013

Something about sloppy journalijam

When it comes to the highest standards of journalism, The Hindu doesn't spare even itself. P Sainath's followers must surely be remembering his brilliant criticism of Times of India over the latter's news-cum-advertisement about the company selling Bt Cotton seeds. The Hindu Readers' Editor AS Panneerselvan is being just as intolerant in his columns about his paper's sometimes shoddy approach.

His comments in today's 'Corrections & Clarifications' section made me get up and write this. Totally worth a read:
"A note from the Readers' Editor: On July 11, 2013 there was a report in the Vijayawada edition titled 'Promoting girl child rights' that failed to meet the basic journalistic principles. An insensitive quote was attributed to 'Ms. Carol Fifon,' founder of Care and Share Trust because the reporter did not cover the event, and used a third party source to file the story. There was no attempt to check with a second source. This was very unprofessional behaviour on the part of the reporter, and the Editor expresses his regret to Ms. Carol Faison (even her name was misspelt in the report) for any damage the article would have caused her. I consider this a failure of both the reporter in particular, and the Vijayawada bureau in general." (sic)

Glad and relieved that the paper does not hesitate to acknowledge its mistake and offers no excuse. This inspires faith that principles of journalism matter to this institution. The Readers' Editor has, rightly, indicted not just the lazy, insincere reporter, but also the unsuspecting bureau for carrying the story as it is. My editor once told me that we (sub-editors) don't have to second guess the reporters all the time. But we need to, given how low they are stooping. We need to cross-check every spelling, every fact, every factoid. Need to. Or else we run the risk of looking like idiots. Sub-editor are the gatekeepers of the news. We need to know how to separate true from false. For this, we need to question the reporter. And this is where things might get dirty.

Dirty? (Before I proceed, I assert that I'm talking about the bad apples, aka pseudo-reporters-cum-stenographers. By God's grace, sincere reporters too exist.) I personally know reporters who have a reputation of not attending events. They either file a story on the basis of press release sent to them, or they ask their fellow reporters in other papers to pass on the information to them. Change the wording, send it across. No one would know. Live happily ever after. Well, just a matter of time before you end up being guilty of something as big as the error made by The Hindu reporter, who must have got it nicely from his/her superiors.

Ideally, reporters should be sincere and honest. But—as my journalism college's vice-dean would often say—we don't live in an ideal world. Reporters (again, not all, but many) are failing us, which is why we need to be extra cautious and approach each story with suspicion. Sub-editors should have the confidence to question the reporter and tell them what seems wrong when it seems wrong.

I have worked only in two newspapers and neither place had the culture of promoting interaction (and harmony) between the two departments. Desk and reporting is like Tom and Jerry. Even at best, a cold war is always there. Both sides look down upon each other. (Disclaimer: This doesn't apply to all the people, but most people. I've had a reporter abusing me, throwing a fit when I removed byline from a single-source story and told him/her, upon being asked, that such stories lack credibility.)

When a sub-editor gets a gobbledygook story from a reporter who has given him a piece of her mind earlier, the sub-editor concerned chooses not to be a concerned sub-editor for the sake of the peace of his mind. He doesn't seek clarification from the reporter, goes by the dictum of 'when in doubt, leave it out', and maybe that's how we lose on what the reporter thought was crucial to the story. This is how mistakes too happen. This is why The Hindu Readers' Editor has blamed the Vijayawada bureau too for carrying the story.

Anonymous sources
Another vice of reporters that the desk has come to accept is anonymous sources. I just loved the way Mr Panneerselvan disapproved of this "notorious practice" in his July 1 column. Allow me to quote a few lines from the piece: "...many journalists do not recognise that it undermines their own standing." "...a diligent reporter would have strived to find an attributable source even five years ago." "...anonymous sources are an easy way for rather lazy journalism."

I get sooo many stories that have a single source and even that person is not identified. I vividly remember that when we were learning the tricks of the trade in our journalism college, our professors just did not accept any story with anonymous or a single source. We would give excuses, justifications about why the source wouldn't speak, doesn't want to be identified and blah. Our teachers won't have any of it. They would sit on our head until we got that quote, with the name and designation of the person concerned. And it just so happened that most of the time we got someone in the thick of things to speak. You work hard, you'll get that quote. Period.

Journalists today, whether they are on desk or on the field, need to be more diligent. Journalism students learn about the platinum standards of the profession in their college, and then look at newspapers and say: "These national dailies are doing the kind of stuff our teachers say is anathema. The papers must be right, maybe our teachers are being pedantic, unnecessarily fussy." It will be sad if newspapers' 'chalta hai' approach becomes an excuse for aspiring journalists to relax their standards. Newspapers were supposed to be the benchmark, right?


“Accuracy is to a newspaper what virtue is to a lady, but a newspaper can always print a retraction.” —Adlai E Stevenson

July 15, 2013

5 yrs since it all began for me at IIJNM

Generally, I do not write a blog post during my office time. But today is not a general/usual day. On this date, five years ago, my batch at Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) had its inaugural day. Never mind that I joined the batch after two days, on July 17. Been five years since we started our journey into the world of journalism! Five years. Half a decade. Quite some time.
Do you guys (my batchmates) remember the saplings we had planted in the hostel? You should see them. They are mini-trees now! The mango tree has started bearing fruits!

Does it feel like five years? No way. Seems like only yesterday. I vividly remember everything that happened. Vividly. The laughters, the tears, the joy, the disappointment, the admonishing, the (fill in the blanks). Even as I write this, I can see all of it unfold in front of my eyes.

Like I do every year, I went to attend the inaugural day ceremony of this batch too. I have been going to college whenever there is an opportunity. And I do not know why. I did not have a great time at IIJNM. In fact, that was the toughest time I faced in my life. I was putting too much, undue, pressure on myself to do well and I was doing a miserable job. Have always been sentimental, but my stint at IIJNM coincided with me being senti-cum-mental. Letters were sent to my home in both the semesters, telling my parents that I won't be able to complete the course until I pull up my socks. I had my thing going on and I could never really pull up my socks. I think it's the word I did on The Softcopy, the college's website, that saved me.

I let my teachers down and ended up becoming just a disappointment. IIJNM is the only place where I did not make any friends. (Not that I deliberately did not make; I'll rather avoid this topic) I was such a wreck that I had almost quit the college, not sure if I wanted to return. Now, I can't help but return. I don't know what draws me. For the first few visits to the college after my graduation, it was about nostalgia, memories and all. Nostalgia wears off. I don't know what it is that still draws me to the college. Don't know what makes me get up early automatically on days I have to visit the college, despite sleeping late, after hours of tossing and turning in the bed.

And yeah, I think I have redeemed myself. I had this guilty conscience about my pathetic stint at IIJNM. At the college, I could never focus on work as I was (whatever, that's not important). I was so whatever that didn't even take up a job immediately after work. Our convocation was on May 2. I took up a job the next year, February 26. Quite a delay. But I think I've done well. No, not a mere opinion. It's a matter of fact that I am doing well. I've done well to make up for the time I spent being jobless.

Just wondering if my IIJNM batchmates remember today is the fifth anniversary of our inaugural day. Hahaha... Too inconsequential a day to remember :) I don't even know why I'm writing this. There's nothing interesting here. Just that maybe I want to note that it's been five years! I had told myself that I'd post only important/funny stuff on my blog. This is bland. Diary-like self-talk. But it's ok. Funny posts are for the readers. This one is for myself. Way to go, boy :)

Oh no. I have this habit of playing to the gallery. Let me, for your pleasure, write down some of the questions the students of the new batch asked:
> Can we give a fake story? (This question came after alumni spoke extensively about the perils of plagiarism)

> What's the starting salary range? (This girl thought maybe it's in six figures)
> You said about 500 copies of your first book were printed, no? How many of them were sold? (The first question a student asked the executive editor of a national daily; he was the chief guest)
> "Make contacts" is the most cliched statement we hear. How do we make "contacts"? (The person said this with the quote-unquote gesture)

April 10, 2013

My jhakkaaasss moment B-)

If you ask me to spell "charisma" and I start with "K..A..", don't interrupt me to tell I'm wrong. I'm not. For me, the word is spelled as "K-A-P-O-O-R". Anil Kapoor—charisma personified.

Yesterday afternoon, I was feeling like a silly teenage girl would. I was so starstruck that no lightning could have struck me harder. I was thrilled. I was nervous. Excited. Trembling. Hadn't had any food but was supercharged. I was in a state of disbelief.

I came office early yesterday to do research for a story. As I stepped in, I learnt that John Abraham was to come to our office shortly. "What! John Abraham! WOW!" I rushed to the 4th floor and sat in the meeting room where the hunk was to come. OHHH GODDDDD!! He was already there. And know what? He wasn't the first one to catch my attention. Sitting with him were Tusshar Kapoor and—oh yeah, baby—Anil Kapoor! Anil Kapoor. The Anil Kapoor. He was the one who caught my eye first when I walked into the room. There he was, with his dark sunglasses, trademark moustache, reclining in the chair, sitting cross-legged, fully at ease. Glowing like a bulb. Basking in the glory of being himself. What a personality!

And that was when I turned into a girl. My heartbeat! It stopped. ——————————. Then it started racing. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^. My eyes widened, jaw dropped and I was overwhelmed by the personality of Mr India. John and Tusshar were sitting straight in their chair, but Munna was at ease, reclining araam se, legs crossed sometime, sometime stretched in front, a hint of a smile on his face. Whoa! He was sitting in the centre, flanked by John and Tusshar on each side. Majestic. Regal. Respect. Authority. Commanding. These were the words that came to my mind upon seeing him.

Ok. The talk started. They spoke about their movie they are promoting. When it ended and they were about to leave, I somehow mustered the courage to tell Anil how I'm so in love with Tashan and just loved his character, Bhaiyya ji. "Bhaiyya ji," he said, nodding. And I went weak in the knees. I vivdly remember how he said "Bhaiyya ji". Wow! My God! Kya personality hai! I told him I'm in awe of him. He extended his hand and I, feeling fully privileged, shook it as he asked my name and what I do. Whoa! I mean, I don't know what to say. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.....!! I just wanted to shout out of joy! Even now. I want to shout. As I'm visualising that handshake, his saying "Bhaiyya ji", I am on cloud number 9.

He pointed out how John kept aside the plate of potato chips and how he (Mr India) had now qualms in having one crisp. Never mind that he picked one, broke it into half and had only that much :) He roared a "jhakkaaasss" and listening to that was like seeing Sachin Tendulkar hit 100 centuries all at once! This is an experience that cannot be described in words. You had to be there to believe it.

It was when he said 'jhakkaaasss' that I realised that it's not the dialogue that makes the man an icon, but the man that makes the dialogue iconic.

From the way he spoke to the way he sat to the way he reached out for the plate of chips that John had stoically swept aside on the table... Even when he wasn't doing anything, you could feel it that there's something special about him. What a pull his persona has! What charisma! What traction! Regal. When he spoke to me after the interview thingy was over, it occurred to me that the Anil Kapoor you see on screen walks and talks just like the Anil Kapoor you'll get to see off screen. He has got that swagger. That charm. Sooo impressive. Whoa!

The entire experience, sitting and interviewing these guys, was such an... such an... well, experience! My colleague who was sitting next to me had apparently made some extra efforts that day to get decked up. Another female colleague sitting on the opposite side of the table... I could read her thought bubbles (there was smitten writ large on her face) when John kept aside the plate of chips, when he flashed his dimpled smile at someone, when any of the three did anything cute.

What a day! My handshake pic with Anil Kapoor has already got 100 likes and counting. I'm so in awe. If I ever make a movie, he's gonna be in it. Ok, let me be a silly, starstruck teenage girl again. "Anil Kapoor, I love you! Jhakkaaaassss" B-)

January 05, 2013

Reality checkmate: Nothing's changed despite Delhi

Given the uproar of the political and the middle class since the Delhi gang rape, I was thinking that police would adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards sexual abuse of women. That we, as a society, would be more sensitive towards the issue. Accompanying a female friend to a New Year party proved how wrong I was.

It was as if all the hoodlums and ruffians of the city had thronged the Brigade Road-MG Road area to have some 'fun' (read passing lewd comments and groping women). My friend and I realised this no sooner than we came out of the party venue, near Brigade Road. Negotiating the thoroughly pervert-infested place was akin to treading on a minefield: there was danger all around and we didn't know what to do to be safe.

Sleazy men with unwanted "Happy New Years" came a dime a dozen. They were on footpaths, on two-wheelers, sticking their neck out of cars... Shouting, screaming, gesturing. Often, in your face. Avoiding roving eyes, blocking ambitious, straying hands and dodging I'll-jump-in-front-of-you-out-of-nowhere 'revellers', we moved ahead.

Our vehicle was parked about a kilometre away and I was worried for my friend's safety, looking over my shoulder, sometimes succeeding in deterring approaching hooligans by giving them a steely gaze. And then it happened. A guy groped her, in the middle of the street, and took to his feet. Aghast, I gave him a chase, but had to give it up soon because I couldn't have left my friend alone. 

Shocked, we decided to travel the 1-km distance in an auto, hoping it would be safe. And we were proved wrong again. When the auto was waiting for the signal to turn green, two guys coming from opposite direction stretched their hand and groped my friend again. This time too I went after the miscreants, but had to quit the chase after 200-300 metres for the same reason.

Sad truth
I'm not the pessimist kind, but these incidents scream that nothing has changed despite Delhi. Many of the 'revellers' seemed to be students or job-goers. For the members of the fairer sex, there was no security despite the presence of 16,000-odd policemen in and around MG Road and Brigade Road. Perverts had a free run. So much for all the talk about dealing with the culprits with an iron fist.  

A stern, loud warning from the police to the ones passing comments when 'revelry' started would/could have deterred the potential troublemakers from bothering the women. Maybe the police found nothing wrong with 'mild' sexual abuse. Condoning a small offence gives birth to a bigger offence.

My every female friend who went outside either experienced for herself or witnessed the horror. And we are talking about reclaiming the night! Dear women, the law enforcement agency does not seem to be on your side.

Slap 'em young
When I narrated the incident to my roommate, he told me how a friend of his once proudly showed him how to grope a woman. This was when they were in class VI, mind you. It was during Dasara celebration in our small town in Chhattisgarh. The venue was crowded. My roommate's friend put his hand on a woman's behind and gleefully asked my roommate to see what he was doing. The woman turned back in disgust, only to find a grinning 11-year-old pervert. Confused, she just walked away. 

That 11-year-old pervert is a 25-year-old man now and I bet he must have groped many since that day. Had that young woman slapped him hard and made a scene, I'm sure he must have given up his perverted pursuits. Impunity emboldens.

So, women, don't spare anyone. And men, stop being mute spectators. And police, well... God, do something about it.

January 04, 2013

Happy Eww Year, courtesy molesters

Following are the words of a female friend of mine who paid the price for daring to go out to celebrate New Year in Bangalore:

I wanted to have fun and yeah i had fun.
I hadn't planned much,so last minute decision to go to this place on MG road.Bollywood night.
I decked up.I wanted to look good and hopefully i was.
The party was great.I had company a school friend.A very old friend ...we met after ages.He doesn't drink, so i drank.i danced as if no one was watching. Hadn't done that in ages.Yeah so i was having a great time.
The countdown was coming to an end. we decided to leave. i was feeling happy and light.

His bike was parked at a distance of hardly a k.m. So we had o walk .
we came down from the disc.The streets were crowded.Closing time, every one, i thought trying to go back.
So we started against the mob.I call it a mob because that's what it turned out to be. A mob of shameless pathetic sick men.

We were walking. He trying to protect also trying to protect myself.But still a guy misbehaved groped me.My friend actually went after him, He was angry and sorry.
I was angry too.but i didnt run after that guy.I was angry and shocked.
we took an auto- yeah for half a km.i was extra careful. still some other guy came and tried doing the same.

i realized i have accepted it.the fact that i have accepted such behavior amazes me!It is not the first time.Im sure in todays India every girl has been through a similar incident in her life.

After the delhi incident i was actually thinking that it was just this and nothing else!
i can say a lot against this is bad not acceptable, but still can i do anything?!
Dont go in crowded will misbehave!In India how can i avoid crwowd?!!!
Dont go in lonely dark will rape!

Whats the solution? Acceptance. I hope not:/
but then should i live an unhappy sad life because of others?
i was happy should i let some sick pathetic guy take that away from me.
I decided it should not!