How do kolu celebrations pan out in our house? We decorate and arrange the idols, dolls and sundry other figurines in traditional kolu formation and offer sundal to the guests, who, if they are women, sing traditional songs, and if they are men, involve themselves in the even more traditional activity of buttonholing me on Hillary Clinton or Sivakarthikeyan or any other news topic of the season.
Since I happen to be a journalist, people generally take me to be well informed of things happening around. Of course, this is a huge misconception. Not just me, most journos are generally clueless of most things. The primary source of print journalists is — you may want to write this down — television news. The primary source of television journalists is, well, they don’t need one.
The point is if we (journos) were any wiser of events, so many rumours won’t be spiralling on the various social media platforms. There was indeed a time when journalists used to be in possession of good deal of information. But now things are a bit different. A journalist is today a person whose primary skill is in having strong opinions on subjects that he/she has little or no knowledge of. Yes, you are right, Suhel Seth will make a wonderful journalist.
Anyway, this year, due to the death of a relative there is no kolu celebration in our household. But if we had had one, one of the conversations may well have transpired this way:
Me: Hello. Most welcome. Here have a seat. While your wife and my wife discuss — why not? — the bug in the latest ios update, we men can talk about TV serials.
Male Guest: Ha. Ha. Ha. Can we straightaway fast-forward to five-minutes later so that I need not have to hover uneasily on pointless pleasantries and the general observation that traffic in the city is getting worse and quickly get down to that part where I ask you some questions on news events?
Me: The better choice is we fast-forward to that part where I get to bid goodbye to you and your wife so that I can spend quality time with random strangers on twitter timeline.
Guest: Talking of timeline, my WhatsApp timeline is full of rumours on you know what. The public wants real clarity. We want to know what is absolutely true. You being a journalist must have your sources. So you tell me what is the real state of affairs?
Me: Of course we have our sources. It is just that they are more useless than us. Just kidding, I think we have to trust what the government tells us here. The issue, as you’d appreciate, is a pretty sensitive one.
Guest: Sensitive, yes. Trust the government on this? Don’t you think a photo or two would assuage all fears and set at rest all the irresponsible speculation?
Me: Sounds reasonable. But here too there will be people who will question the authenticity of the pictures. I mean what with softwares like Photoshop around, Lal Bahadur Shastri can be shown to be in a clinch with, I don’t know, Bipasha Basu.
Guest: The best thing for all concerned would be a simple and clean video with all the details…
Me: …of Bipasha Basu?
Guest: Arrey boss, don’t joke. Don’t you think video clips will help to stop all the rumour-mongering?
Me: But that would be a strategic mistake. My opinion is government shouldn’t give in to opposition demand. More importantly, to hell with Pakistan.
Guest: Yeah, exactly my opinion too. To hell with Pakistan. But why bring in Pakistan here?
Me: What do you mean, aren’t the Pakistanis asking for video evidence?
Guest: Video on Jayalalithaa’s health? Why would Pakistan want one?
Me: Agreed, Pakistan wouldn’t want Jayalalithaa’s video. But wait. Aren’t you talking of surgical strikes in Pakistan by Indian army? Isn’t the video evidence you were demanding for that?
Guest: Boss, Uri and surgical strikes are fine. Give the evidence to Kejriwal and Pakistan. Or even send Kejriwal to Pakistan with the evidence. Who cares. My question was on Jayalalithaa’s health. That is the subject entire Tamil Nadu is talking about (that is, when they are not talking about the box-office prospects of Remo). As a journo, what is the latest you have on it?
Me: As a journo, what I have latest on Jaya’s health is this: *Thrusts the mobile with yet another meme on Apollo hospitals*
Guest: *Eagerly* Can you forward that to my mobile?
From not getting the answers right to not getting the question itself right, well, I think I am making rapid progress as a journalist. Move over, Arnab!