Friday, June 23, 2006

Carol

June 2, 2006. Between 6:45 and 7:15 PM
After a typical day's work, I carried an extra dose of headache as I walked out of office. Before I walked home I stopped by at the nearest newsstand to look for the latest magazines. The newsstand is just a temporary erection by the road side, which actually used the bordering compound wall to hang most of the magazines like clothes drying over the balcony of a flat. Impulsively, I reached out to Frontline only to find hopelessly biased pro-reservation cover stories. India Today ran a cover story on how the Young and the Rich of India is getting addicted to drugs. "Yea, you need a Rahul Mahajan to hit the nail on your head!" I thought. Whatever happened to balanced, pro-active journalism? Actually, The Hindu Group does that from time to time with articles regularly highlighting problems like child-malnutrition and government inaction, contracting river and lake water resources because of bottling companies etc. But with the reservation issue, The Hindu Group, has shot itself in its foot big time. As the train of thoughts got slowed down a bit, I became conscious of a well groomed, good-looking girl in a nice copper sulphate salwar kameez with a white dupatta. Only when I looked up thoughtfully about the journalism in India did I notice that she is a foreigner. She was a blond with fairly big eyes, angular jaw-line, with enviably well aligned, white teeth. Funny how much you observe within a short span of time when you are interested in something. She spontaneously picked up a Business Line and reached towards me to pick up a Fronline. Looking at her spontaneity, I thought that she must have been here in India for a while.

"Excuse me". I blurted out.
"Yes". She looked up at me with a puzzling, but smiling face.
"You've picked up BusinessLine and Frontline. Both are from The Hindu Group..."
(I was wondering if she liked The Hindu Group's way of news presentation)
"Yeeaaaah" she said thoughtfully. "There should be more variety. Uuummm. So, what do you suggest"
(Oh! She must be from the UK. Soon I forgot that I meant to ask her if she liked the The Hindu way of journalism)
"What kind of news item are you looking for?"
"Economy, economic policies development...", she examined my face to see if I make some connection.
"I think The Economic Times is a good one", I started searching for it in the stands, but couldn't find it.
"Oh! Yes, I have seen it before." She started looking for it too!
"Its from the The Times of India Group", I said.
"And in magazines..?" she asked showing me the Frontline she held.
"Frontline, being a fortnightly, offers a good variety of news", I said running my hand of the its contents page. "But, off-late I am thoroughly disappointed with the way it has handled the reservation issue. Totally biased reporting."
"Yeaah! That is because The Hindu is based in Chennai where there is heavy support for reservation".
(Now that is really impressive, I thought)
"I am from Chennai", I grinned wondering if I just took the first step to mess up a good conversation.
"Oh! Really!" she gave a broad smile. "So, are you against reservation?"
"Yea. Atleast against reservation the way it is currently implemented. I guess the press can have its opinion, but the reporting should be balanced a bit....." I gestured a "Balance" moving both my hands up and down alternately, searching for a nod.
"Yea.." She agreed giving the nod and wearing a beautiful smile across her face!
"India Today is popularly read magazine, but its kind of reactive reporting." I said showing her the cover on which a guy was blissfully enjoying cocaine. At times it gets into the self-congratulatory stories like increasing number of malls or how women across India are more open to pre-marital sex (Oops!). They are interesting, but don't really address anything useful for the society.
She looked a little confused at what I said, as she looked at the guy-with-cocaine in IT cover.
"Yea, What's that guy's name...the guy who's in trouble for cocaine abuse? Rahul...mah.."
"Rahul Mahajan" (Amazing!)
"Yeah, this story is based on that right, I think I see what you are saying".
(Ye, I guess my opinions are not as crappy after-all!) I handed her the copy.
"So what are you doing here? I mean.... in India?"
"I am here for my Ph.D research"
"Oh, thats great! Ph.D in..."
"India's economic policies, development, etc.."
"Wow!". I paused letting the thought sink in. "Which University may I ask?"
"University of Bristol"
"Oh Cool". I wanted to say that I have a friend who has graduated from University of Luton. But didn't, since I somehow that it might sound like I am showing off.
"Anyway, I am Badhri, I work here at Synopsys, in Lifestyle Building"
"Carol", that smile again!
"Nice meeting you!"
"Nice meeting you too!"
We shook hands and parted in the opposite direction. I didn't really know why I ended the conversation right there. Here is a foreigner who has considered Indian Economy a worthy subject for her Ph.D and has bothered to travel all the way to India. As I walked towards the bus stop, I realised that the India she sees, is probably the India that the world sees. As a global player, for India, nothing else matters. I suddenly had so many questions to ask her like, what encouraged her to choose the topic and how much of value would it add to her. The obvious question comparing the economic policies of India and China and so on...After just a few paces from the newsstand, I realised that I didn't to get my copy of India Today. Honestly, I don't know if getting a copy of IT was just an excuse to talk to her for longer or if I had really decided on buying it. But when I went back to the news stand she was already gone. I have never missed anybody after such a brief introduction, like I miss her now.

9 comments:

Priya said...

hey
i have posted urs..
come to see at my spot...
will read this at leisure!!

Priya said...

hmmnnn.. thats nice..

carolnavudane i thought u r gonn atlk abt the lady for whom u bought elephant doll ( in handicapped people office in WSU.) btw, what is her name??

Badhri said...

Cathy! Read the post in your website too.

-Anand said...

Badri, I have many times wondered how many of us consider economics, a serious option, when we want to chose our career. Maybe the stereotypical thinking of our society and the craze towards an engg degree or MBBS is what driving everyone to shun economics. I seriously believe that, there will be lot of research thesis on India's economic policies in the UK or US than in our country. I wish I am wrong on this.

Badri, keep visiting that news stand and try to get that conversation done :D:)

Hamsa said...

I really liked that part where you said, its the way India is being looked at from the world. I do feel most of us in Inda just live with eyes wide shut. No inkling to what the world really thinks of us. You should have invited for a lunch later. Would have definitely provided you with more interests.
nyways good one

Badhri said...

Sure could have. I would have been a wonderful experience.

But, hey! Lets not be too hard on Indians! You and I have had no idea about what the world thought of us before we stepped outside into the US.

IMHO, in that respect, the more advanced countries such as the US fair much worse in that respect (not that it helps to us Indians)

Hamsa said...

hmm..nice one. But still..I do maintain that we still think of spent glories and imagined prospects for the future than concentrating on the matter at hand.
Yeah exactly. till we stepped out..Thats it. I want us to think outside the system. Move out more. opinions. Media in India..man everything has to change.The outlook.. We are too much into ourselves.

Badhri said...

A typical Indian dream of an NRI. I can relate to it since I was an NRI not too long ago. Keep your dreams alive. India needs people like you (and I).

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