For The Love Of Journalism

Once upon a time, there were two journalists – a boy and a girl – working in an over-crowded island that passed off for a city. The boy used to work in a newspaper, reporting on all the crimes that happened in the city and lived a dangerous life. For, the city had an abnormally high crime rate. The girl, on the other hand, was the editor of a magazine and reported on all the business dealings in the city. Unfortunately for her, the city was also the financial capital of the country, which kept her quite busy with no time for any fun. For the purposes of this story, let us call them the Reporter and the Editor.

One day, Editor was walking along the road, lost in her own thoughts, trying to avoid the speeding traffic and, at the same time, trying not to step into the potholes on the road. Trying to negotiate a particularly tricky pothole, she tripped on her high heels and fell on to the road. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a speeding truck rushing towards her and she closed her eyes, frozen with fear, thinking that everything was over. Just as the truck was about to run her over, strong hands grabbed her around the waist and pulled her out of harm’s way. The speeding truck, horns blaring and barely slowing down, rushed past her, splashing the muddy water all over back. For a second, she was confused. She wasn’t dead. She wasn’t roadkill. She looked up at her savior, the man who had pulled her to safety, and looked into the intelligent brown eyes of Reporter. He was covered in mud, just like her, but he was smiling.

“If you have a death wish, you can find better ways to kill yourself,” said Reporter with a smile. “Are you all right?”

“Ye- yes!” stammered Editor. “What happened? I’m.. I’m not dead?”

“Unfortunately, no,” he said. “Why did you fall over?”

“I.. I tripped,” she said. “You saved my life! Thank you!”

“I did nothing of that sort. I was walking a few paces behind  you on the road, and I saw you fall into the road, right in the path of that truck! I thought you were suicidal!”

She laughed, and gave him a tight hug. “Thanks for saving me!”

“Anytime,” he laughed. “What’s your name?”

“Editor,’ she said. “And you?”

“Reporter. Where do you live? You look like a truck just ran over you. You need to clean up. Let me take you home and make sure you don’t trip again.”

“I live just round the corner,” she said, laughing a little at his humor. “You can walk me home.”

So, arm in arm, they walked round the corner and he dropped her off at her house. “When do I see you again?” he asked, just as she turned to open her door.

She turned around and looked at him. He seemed cute enough. “Do you want to?” she asked with a smile.

He nodded.

*

Confused in Love

Two days after this incident, Editor was madly in love with Reporter. She didn’t know what to do about it and worse, she didn’t know how he felt about her. Meanwhile, Reporter was also badly smitten by the beautiful Editor, and wasn’t sure how to proceed. Both wanted things to move on and neither knew how to ask the other one out for an official date. They had met a couple of times over the past two days and had an absolutely wonderful time together. They enjoyed each others’ company and they jumped with joy when the other person called them. They were just too shy to ask each other out on a date. Or perhaps, they were afraid to make a move too soon and scare the other person away.

Love is such a fragile, fickle-minded thing.

So, one fine day, Editor couldn’t take it any more. She had to know. She contacted a friend of hers in another city and asked him to help her out in this dilemma. This friend of hers was known around the world as a famous Love Guru. He deliberated on her problem and came up with a foolproof, romantic way of bringing them together – a blog post. Though she was initially hesitant about the idea, she quickly realized the potential.

“Go ahead,” she said.

And the Love Guru started writing: “Once upon a time, there were two journalists…”

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Growing Up!

I’m halfway through my life and questioning my existence.

With my lifestyle, I’ll be a medical miracle if I live beyond 53 or 54 years of age. And on the twentieth of this month, barely ten days away, I will enter my twenty-eighth year. Almost half my life has gone by, and I’m sitting in the dark wondering what I’ve achieved so far and what I plan to do for the second half. I seem to be stuck at the intermission for the past few months.

Growing upWhen I look back on what I’ve done in my life so far, a lot of things stand out as being above average, but nothing stands out as being phenomenal. “Been there, done that,” seems to be motto I lived my life for the past twenty-eight years. Software programming, journalism, cancer research, authoring books, public relations, entrepreneur, serial dater and party freak. Now that I look back on those years, all I see is a lot of confusion. I have a goal in life and I am yet grappling with the tools needed to achieve that goal.

I think growing up sucks.

Image Courtesy: Afkaary

NewsCracked! :)

newscracked

Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the BNN ICN 9 o’ clock news! Today’s breaking stories:

1. Big Sobb Season 2 ends in dramatic fanfare!

2. Akshay Kumar wears pants inside-out!

3. Madhuri Dixit misses a gray hair while combing!

4. IT company employee sneezes!

5. Aviation minister is high. Literally.

… and other important, earth-shattering, life-changing news stories! Only on BNN ICN. Stay tuned!

For God’s sake, give me a break! Some punk winning a reality TV show is prime time news? To be aired again and again? To be repeated in nauseating detail? To call up that punk’s uncle over the phone and talk to him on National TV?

I thought these news channels were a bit sane. Apparently not. Absurdly enough, this piece of ridiculous ‘news’ was aired right after a brilliant coverage of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. Talk about losing the plot. 😀

I should start my own news channel, and air only news that I think is important or worth airing. I wonder how long that channel will take to become famous. I’d call it ‘NewsCracked’… 😀

Heads Up: The True Story Of Why I Quit Journalism

Finally, I am strong enough to reveal the truth. This incident took place in the offices of a leading newspaper in the city. None of what follows in fiction. Unfortunately, and gruesomely, every word of it is true. This is definitely not for the faint of heart.

I am a little apprehensive about sharing this incident with you all, but then, it’s about time I set the record straight and confess to everyone why I left journalism.

I’ll try to report exactly what happened, objectively and without any emotional bias. Oh, who am I fooling? I’m going to tell you exactly what happened. Trust me, this is scary…

It was 2 in the morning, and the office was deserted. I was on the night shift, and had just finished a satisfying smoke and was walking up the old staircase to my workplace. There wasn’t a soul anywhere in the huge office. The only sounds I could hear were those of the air conditioner clanking up a notch and the occasional roar of a speed devil out on the road. There was a chill in the night air, and I hugged myself for warmth and entered the office. If I stood still and strained my ear, I could hear the footfalls of the people walking on the pavement outside. I glanced at my watch and decided it was high time I packed up and went home for the day. Being on the Internet/technology desk of a newspaper isn’t a comfort. More than anything, it’s a hindrance. Unfortunately for me, this newspaper was widely read, and so I had to stay back till two in the morning to give those insomniac readers the latest update of who killed whom in the world.

I returned to my desk and started to close all my open windows in the computer, switching off the AC and the muted television, where the cricket match of the day was being shown again. As I heard the satiating jingle of windows being turned off, I switched the monitor off and picked up my bag, and stopped…

My bag seemed exceptionally heavy. I didn’t remember bringing any books to work and I distinctly remember the bag being very light. Now, I noticed that there was a slight bulge in the bag’s midsection also. My bag is one of those horizontal zipper bags that require to be slung across the shoulder. These kinds of bags are great for carrying books, but are woefully inadequate for anything slightly bulky like water bottles and tiffin boxes. They stand out like a pregnant belly. There was a similar bulge in my bag. I was confused.

I looked down at the bag again and placed it back on the desk. Frowning, I opened the zipper and looked inside. I almost screamed out…

There, lying in a pool of dirty papers was the most hideous looking head I’ve ever seen. And the fact that there was a HEAD in my bag almost made me faint. It looked up at me with this horrendous expression fixed on it. I couldn’t speak, my mouth was dry. I wiped the sweat off my head and looked around to see if there was anyone who was watching me. There wasn’t a soul…

Now, I’m a pretty rational guy, and my mind quickly switched on the rationale. I started thinking of how this head could’ve gotten in my bag. Obviously, someone must’ve placed it there when I wasn’t at my desk. Now, there were only two instances when I was out of my desk – once for dinner and once for my habitual two a.m. smoke. I could rule out dinner, because the office was packed more tightly than a circus at eight.

So, obviously, someone had put the head in my bag at two, when I was out smoking. This made me feel a bit frightened, as I was sure that there wasn’t anyone in the office!

Or was there…?

I felt goose bumps rising on my arms all over. A streak ran down my spine. “Relax,” I told myself. “There’s no such thing as ghosts!”

“Yeah,” replied my brain. “But there’re serial killers and murderer and psychos!”

Now, I felt really scared. I am a well-built guy, and I could hold my own against anyone looking for a fight, but the thought of defending myself against a crazed lunatic who’d just dumped a frikking head in my bag?
Well, I frankly preferred the quiet life…

The phone rang on my desk, suddenly and shrilly, making me jump put of my skin. The sound of the phone seemed unnaturally loud in the quiet office, and scarier with a head in my bag! I approached it gingerly and picked it up. I could hear my heart beating against my chest.

“H-hello…?” I said.

“Nikhil?” came a gruff voice that I couldn’t recognize.

“Yeah, who’s this?” I demanded, slightly strung out, hoping that the person, whoever it was, wouldn’t notice the tension in it.

“Are you alone?” the voice asked.

“What?” I asked, now scared. “Who is this?”

“Do you have the head?” the voice said.

I was terrified, and a bit angry. “Who the hell is this? And what’s the meaning of this sick joke? Whose head is this?”

“Joke? Mr. Nikhil, I assure you this is no joke. Didn’t you find my note?”

“What note? Who the fuck are you?

“You don’t recognize me, do you?” he asked.

“Obviously not, asshole!”

“Check the note next to your computer. That head is mine,” he said, and the line got cut.

I held the dead receiver next to my ear for a long time with sweat running down my face, and finally put it down. I looked next to my computer and found a yellow post-it stuck on the side of the monitor. Why hadn’t I noticed it earlier? Curiously, I pulled it out and read what was written on it. And I almost fell down…

I looked at the head in my bag and back to the note I was holding in my hand, and vowed never to do night shifts again. I couldn’t take it anymore.

“Nikhil,” the note began, “please find the head of cabbage in your bag. Keep it in a fridge and bring it tomorrow. I don’t have a fridge at home. How was dinner? Thanks. Ranjit.”

That asshole colleague of mine didn’t even tell me! Imagine finding a head of cabbage in your bag when you least expect it! I am freaked out…

I resigned the next day. I prefer the quiet life. Without heads.

The Day I Almost Died…

Well, not exactly. But I came dangerously close to losing my life. 😀

I live a dangerous life. My job takes me all the remote corners of the city and more often that not, I end up rubbing the wrong people the wrong way. No, I don’t give back rubs for a living, but something close. Whenever I fail to make my clients look like God’s gifts to mankind, and end up looking bad in public, they scream bloody murder and run behind me with guns, knifes and swords, baying for my blood. A few days ago, I almost regretted being in this business. 😀

Everyone would probably agree that the word “jobs” does not mean “people”, literally speaking. This schism between the two words is enhanced if they are used in a sentence like this: “We’re offering jobs…” and “We’re offering people…” 😀

Journalism is losing its charm in this country and when this happens, the quality of people entering the field drastically comes down. Exceptions aside, all the new kids in journalism are very green, with loads to learn, starting with the difference in meaning between the two sentences above! When a multinational company’s CEO is quoted as saying, “We’re offering people…” I tend to get a bit nervous and fear for my life. The moment I read this quote in the paper that morning, I gulped and crouched under the table, and sure enough, ten minutes later, the hits started pouring in. 😀

“Whom do we offer PEOPLE to??”
“We offer PEOPLE??”
“What sort of a joke is this??”
“Where do you stay??”

and so on…

The CEO wanted me killed. The mafia had a gleam in their eye, wondering about who it was that encroached on their human trafficking business. The MD of the company wanted me killed. My friend, whom I was doing a favor by promising him a quote by the CEO of the company (it was technically his client) wanted me killed, fired and then shot. The bloody journalist was “not reachable” on his phone. 😀

This is the last time, I thought to myself, that I help out people outside my clientèle. I’ll stick to my own circle and face the music on my own, with the number of people baying for my blood reduced by half, well under the panic limit. 😀

Blog Talk!!

Yaake in Bangalore Mirror!My blog was featured in Bangalore Mirror, an English daily, yesterday!!

There’s a column called “Blog Talk,” where geeky posts that deal with “All Things Bangalore” are published! And mine got picked up and printed!! All thanks to Balu, who’s a journalist with Bangalore Mirror. I was surprised and shocked when he told me he wants to use my blog for that column. In a daze, I said Yes, and the next day, there it was – in black-and-white and a few other colors – my blog, specifically my post about being cursed again and again!

Thanks so much, Balu! I owe you one, macha! 😀

I scanned it and sent it to all my friends! Apart from people calling me up out of the blue to tell me that it’s been published, my biggest shock was when Dad read the article, looked at me and said, “Tell me the truth – was that incident with the mother and her kid an accident or did you do smack your lips intentionally?”

“Dad!” I protested, “you must be kidding me, right?”

He looked at me strangely and said, “No, I’m not.”

Now, I don’t really know what to say in situations like this. The whole thing was one big misunderstanding and when people don’t trust me, I really don’t know what to say or do. I can’t deny anything too vehemently, because it may appear fake, and for obvious reasons I can’t accept any charges.

On the other hand, it seems my life is a constant punching bag of abuses. Some guy called me a “Loafer!” today because I drove my bike over his laptop bag and heard a distinctive crunch as I did it and roared away from the scene… 😀