Sunday, July 1, 2007

What's with the double profile anyway?

I almost collided with Rahul as I took three steps at a time.

I was unbelievably late for an assignment, my slippers have been in their death beds for last two weeks and are probably breathing their last right now and the last thing I needed was an idle chit chat with the friendly neighbourhood bore.

"Office jaa rahi ho?" he asked.
Ah the lure of sarcasm.... how it calls. but this morning I decided not to be my usual obnoxious self and give kindness a try. "Ya. And running awfully late." Loaded with hints.

"Did you see how West Indies beat India to a pulp yesterday?" Don't do this to me.
"You journalists always in hurry to go places no? No time for gossip?" Summoning what I hoped was my sweetest smile I told Rahul that indeed I was in a hurry now as I am normally not the one to pass on the chance to gossip.

The Varmas' dog treated the curb as its personal lavatory and I almost fell trying to sidestep a pile of dog crap. Ughh. Combining what i perceived was an all-time record for marathon, I hopped onto a passing autorickshaw. The driver with a keen sixth sense born out of tireless practice on Delhi roads perceived my predicament and charged me 20 bucks more than the normal rate.

"I was waiting for you. Perpetually late," declared Ashu from the Times of India. Thank god the press conference had not started yet. I nodded to my photographer who was frowning at the hall lighting and settled my tired feet on the chair in front of me.

I had a thing for Ashu when I worked with the Statesman. But that along with hobbies like bonsai and cutting out Laxman's common man cartoon strips from newspapers fizzled out with time.

The NGO droned on and on for two hours on their initiative in promoting safe sex and I began to panic. I had to be in office in time for my desk shift. Most newspapers and agencies have begun this new portfolio of a reporter-cum-sub-editor. It's neither here not there since you have to give time for both and get paid pretty much for one. My chief reporter brings the roof down for any stories I miss, which I do quite often I am ashamed to say, and threaten with dire consequences if I don't pull up my socks.

My News Editor on the other hand is at his sarcastic best when he points out the 16 mistakes (he actually counts!) I made in editing a copy a stringer sent from Hissar, during my desk shift.
In the tug of war lies the hope that someday i shall be taken off the desk and given full fledged reporting. And as I turn wherever the carrot turns, the financial adviser of the company is tickled pink at the money he is saving for agency.

"By what time will you release the story? I won't bother filing it then, just pick up the agency copy," Ashu said as a parting shot and a roguish grin.

Once back at office and having file the story I sat back with a cup of the dubious brew which the canteen insists is coffee when boss came running out his cabin. "Whenever I see you, you are either stuffing your face or lazing around. Quick, run a news flash."

My "Sir, thats so unfair" got buried under his impatience as I typed out the News Alert about a bomb blast in a Varanasi temple.

I am sorry to say that I'm totally de-sensitized to human suffering by now and all I care about is the damn leads that will start coming from the Lucknow bureau in half an hour, side stories, security situation all over the country, home minister's visit to Varanasi. Getaway looks slim.
Sigh... It promises to be another long day.

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